Hematogen: Bloody delicious

It looks like a chocolate bar, but it isn’t candy. It’s sold in pharmacies, but kids love it. What is it?

Child eating hematogen

I’m talking about gematogen—a preventive medicinal product loved equally by children and their parents, sold almost exclusively in the CIS countries, and made of… wait for it… cow’s blood!

If you thought that peculiar delicacies are reserved for France and Asia, think again. The primary ingredient of hematogen—from Greek αἷμα (blood) and γενος (giving birth)—is bovine blood, dehydrated and defibrinated to prevent infections.

Additionally, these tasty bars can include condensed milk, honey, and other secondary ingredients meant but to adapt the product to the tastes of the customers.

Hematogen bar

The story of of hematogen begins around the end of the 19th century, when scientists have proven once and for all that iron is a primary constituent of blood. Soon after, iron and blood-based products became widely available in pharmacies across Europe.

The first product to adapt the present name was Hämatogen des Dr. Hommel, produced in 1890 Switzerland and sold as a liquid mixture based on ox blood (not to be confused with another name for amphetamine).

Hämatogen des Dr. Hommel

The mixture was also sold in Russia, but it is not until 1917 that the hematogen we know today appeared on store shelves.

Hematogen—primarily consumed by children, anemics or during pregnancy—is available without prescription and is used to prevent low blood levels and other deficiencies, treat problems with vision, improve skin, hair and nails.

It is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and vitamin A, as well as protein, fats, carbohydrates and minerals, all present in quantities similar to the composition of human blood.

Does anything similar exist where you’re from? Would you ever dare to taste this bloody delicacy?

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+Philip Seyfi is a Russian new media developer, designer, and entrepreneur. He is the author of NihongoUp and co-founder of EduLift.

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  • Universeathand

    Hi Philip,

    Is there any chocolate/candy/energy bars that has exactly same taste albeit without any animal ingredients such as defibrinated blood?

    • http://divita.eu/ seifip

      @986f03137ccec8a9d1c8cade1e53821d:disqus: I’ve heard that hematogen without animal ingredients exists, but I’ve never seen or tasted it in my life, and I’m fairly certain that it is not only deprived of its medicinal qualities, but could even be relatively unhealthy, as is any other candy bar.

  • http://twitter.com/miezeljotschek miezeljotschek

    Да теперь в России только Гематоген без всякой крови и продаётся! Одна химия теперь. С кровью уже нигде нету и поэтому вкус как у обычной шоколадки и нету этого типичного привкуса железа к которому я привык с детсва :-(

    • redhotborscht

      Я из Литвы. Сегодня купил в обычном сетевом ритэйл-магазине MAXIMA “HEMAtoGEN klasika”, производства “EKZON”, Drogichin, Lenina 202, Baltarusija(Белоруссия). На батончике 50г над названием есть надпись, как
      на фарм. препаратах — Haematogenum. В составе есть džiovintas maistinis
      kraujas(дословно с литовского — сушеная пищевая кровь). В 25г есть 1.25
      мг железа. Какого-то особенного привкуса железа не заметил, хотя не помню тот вкус с детства как вы.

    • Sergey Ozeriansky

      вот тут настоящий! с кровью, 5% можно онлайн заказать)

  • http://twitter.com/jseb_92 Seb


  • Rocollaron

    Когда узнал давно, то пожалел, что его ел: дали почувствовать себя демоном X)

  • DavidB737

    I tasted two different flavors of these, they’re not bad!

    • Gay737

      get out of here!

  • Sergey Ozeriansky

    this is a real blood candy!!)))) you can buy it online)) halloween special

    • http://divita.eu/ seifip

      I must say that your website is pretty cool :) Thanks for sharing it with us!

      By the way, “iron grip” is a set expression in English so “You grip will be as hard as steel, your blood will be as steel as well. Or just “Iron Curtain” if you like.” could be better rephrased as “You’ll be a superman with an iron grip, and an iron blood. You could even call yourself the ‘Iron Curtain’, if you wish.” or something along those lines :)

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