Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan?

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Vegan jolly rancher
Willis Lam | "Follow Jolly Rancher bag" | December 19th is National Hard Candy Day

Jolly Ranchers are sour and sweet hard candies that are popular with young and old. But are they vegan-friendly?

In this guide, we answer the question: “Are jolly ranchers vegan?”

What’s Inside?

Jolly Ranchers are made from a mixture of sugar and corn syrup boiled at a high temperature and cooled rapidly to make a glass-looking candy.

The preparation starts with a solution of corn, glucose, fructose, and sucrose syrups boiled at a temperature of 160 °C and cooled immediately after. The artificial coloring and flavoring are added as the mixture cools.

According to the candy’s ingredients panel, Jolly Ranchers contain:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Artificial Colors: Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1
  • Lecithin
  • Malic Acid
  • Natural & Artificial Flavors
  • Mineral Oil

These ingredients are at the center of the debate on whether Jolly Ranchers are or are not vegan friendly.

Are They Vegan?

No, probably not.

The main contention with jolly ranchers is the fact that some ingredients can be derived from both animals and plants.

One such ingredient is lecithin, which can be obtained from corn, rice, sunflower, and other plants. However, it can also be acquired from eggs and fish, which will make products made out of it, not vegan.

Also, natural flavor is an ambiguous term that could mean flavor derived from animals or plants. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for vegans to conclude on the candy’s status.

There is no way to be 100 percent certain that lecithin and natural flavor in jolly ranchers are vegan.

The debate or confusion doesn’t end there. The food colors used in making jolly ranchers raise some eyebrows.

Red 40 is an artificial food color with a similar wording to Red 4, which can be derived from battles. On this issue, the answer is clear: jolly ranchers use Red 40, an artificial color with a chemical structure that cannot be identified in nature.

The other food colorings: Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Yellow 6 are vegan.

Considering how difficult it is to be sure that your next Jolly Rancher is vegan friendly due to the opaque nature of the source of some ingredients, most vegans stay away from Jolly Ranchers.

Vegan Alternatives

There are several hard candy brands that contain ingredients that are vegan friendly.

Here are some of the top vegan candy brands:

  • Airheads
  • Dum Dums
  • GoOrganic Hard Candies

Jolly Ranchers are a tough call. Since it is unclear where the candy’s ingredients come from, most vegans avoid it to be on the safe side. Fundamentally, though, it comes down to your personal choice.

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