Jolly Ranchers have been around since the 1950's, and are an extremely popular hard candy. However, anyone trying to follow a vegan diet should know whether Jolly Ranchers are compatible with a plant-based lifestyle.
Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan?
Jolly Ranchers vegan? Jolly Ranchers are often assumed to be a vegan treat. Some websites will claim that they are, in fact, vegan. But, upon further analysis, you will see that Jolly Ranchers are not technically safe for vegan diets. However, it really depends on how strict you are about it.
Jolly Ranchers contain a couple of ingredients that can be derived from animals. One of these is lecithin, which can be derived from sunflower, corn, rice, and other plants. However, it can also be derived from eggs and fish, in which case it wouldn't be a vegan ingredient.
The other quasi-vegan ingredient is natural flavor. Food manufacturers aren't required to list exactly what the "natural flavor" is. Natural flavor could be anything, derived from either plants or animals.
There's no way to know if the lecithin and natural flavor in Jolly Ranchers is derived from animals. Manufacturers aren't required to give this information. Because of the possibility of animal products, those who want to adhere very strictly to a vegan diet should instead opt for a hard candy that is 100% certain to be vegan.
Jolly Ranchers Ingredients
- Corn syrup.
- Malic acid. This is an acid derived from apples used to impart a tart flavor.
- Natural flavor*
- Artificial flavor.
- Artificial color.
- Mineral oil. This is a very refined oil, distilled from petroleum. Mineral oil is mostly made as a by-product of gasoline production. When used in candy, it serves the role of a protective coating.
Jolly Ranchers Vegan Alternatives
GoOrganic Hard Candies
GoOrganic hard candies are similar to Jolly Ranchers, as they are hard candies with a variety of fruit flavors. These candies contain only organic cane juice, organic brown rice syrup, natural plant-based flavorings, and occasionally citric acid. Some of the available flavors include:
- Blood Orange
- Ginger Xtreme
- Iced Mint Mango
Although Dum Dums come on a stick, they're still tasty hard candies with fruit flavors. An upside is that you can buy them virtually anywhere you would otherwise be buying Jolly Ranchers. Packages of Dum Dums come in an assortment of 16 flavors, plus a mystery flavor. Dum Dums are free of virtually all allergens, save for a very small amount of soy oil that has been de-natured to reduce or even eliminate any harmful effects.
If what you like about jolly ranchers is the tartness, a great vegan alternative is Airheads. Although they aren't a hard candy, they're nice and sour with different fruit flavors including:
- White Mystery
One of the only downsides of Airheads is that they do contain partially hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fat. Eating more than a tiny bit of trans fat can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It's best to limit these candies. Airheads are most appropriate if you only eat a piece of candy every once in a while.
Jolly Ranchers Conclusion
The main question: Jolly Ranchers vegan? Jolly Ranchers contain ingredients that can be derived from either plants or animals. There's no way to know which version your bag of Jolly Ranchers is made with. Strict vegans should stay on the safe side and opt for a different hard candy that is known to be vegan.
Being vegan doesn't mean having a boring diet! With a little research you can become well-versed in vegan alternatives to your favorite foods. This way, you'll never feel restricted or deprived. Do you have any other favorite vegan hard candies? Share in the comments!
*Images of single Jolly Ranchers taken from Hershey's.