Jolly Ranchers have time and again proven to be our favorite American candy brand. Owned by Hershey’s, Jolly Ranchers produce hard candy, lollipops, jelly beans, bites, chews, and gummies. Their tangy and juicy taste is nowhere else to be found, but are Jolly Ranchers vegan?
The parent company Hershey’s does not certify that Jolly Ranchers are vegan. But we have found numerous clues to suggest otherwise. Some of the Jolly Ranchers candies have no non-vegan ingredients. It is speculated that they are undoubtedly vegan.
If Jolly Ranchers ingredients are vegan, where do the doubts arise?
There is always enough room for doubt in veganism. However, there are valid controversial ingredients in Jolly Ranchers. All varieties of Jolly Ranchers candies, be it lollipops or hard candies, contain processed sugar, artificial colors, and natural flavors. These are controversial ingredients that strict vegans tend to avoid.
It is important to note that not all Jolly Ranchers bites, chews, and gummies are vegan. Some of them contain gelatin.
Gelatin is a proteinaceous substance produced by boiling animal skin, bones, ligaments, and cartilage in water. These animal substances are derived from cows, pigs, and fish.
Gelatin is the substance used to provide a chewy texture to common fruit-based candies. Many concerned producers now use plant-based pectin instead of gelatin for the same purpose. But not Jolly Ranchers.
Some Jolly Ranchers soft candies contain gelatin
- Jolly Ranchers Crunch ‘n Chew
- Jolly Ranchers Original soft candy
- Jolly Ranchers Filled Gummies Bites
- Jolly Ranchers Gummies Original
Vegans must be cautious and avoid gelatin containing Jolly Ranchers. Apart from this, Jolly Ranchers Sour Bites contain lactic acid as an ingredient. Lactic acid may have been derived from dairy milk. Because dairy consumption is forbidden in veganism, Jolly Ranchers Sour Bites are not vegan.
The ingredients in the other considerable vegan Jolly Ranchers do not suggest any non-vegan additive or source. But of course, there are controversial ingredients in all of them that you might want to note.
- Jolly Ranchers Hard Candy contains artificial sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1). The lecithin in these candies is said to be derived from soy but still remains controversial because of possible animal origin.
- Jolly Ranchers Lollipops contain processed sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6). Lecithin, again, is a controversial ingredient.
- Jolly Ranchers Jelly Beans also contain processed sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial colors ( Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6).
- While some of the Jolly Ranchers Bites, Chews, and Gummies are known to contain gelatin, some are definitely vegan. These are; Awesome Twosome Chews, Misfits- 2 in 1 Gummy Candies, and Soft Bites.
Many vegans assume that all Jolly Ranchers contain confectioner’s glaze. This is not true. Unlike most candies, confectioner’s glaze is absent in all varieties of Jolly Ranchers.
Why are the controversial ingredients controversial?
Processed sugar, artificial colors, and natural flavors are considered problematic in the vegan community for understandable reasons.
Sugar is often processed using bone char
Vegans consider sugar a problematic ingredient and most of them avoid it. This is because sugar is oftentimes processed using bone char in factories. More than half of sugar factories in North America use bone char to refine and filter sugar.
Bone char is an absorptive carbon obtained after burning animal skulls and bones in combustion chambers. This particular cruelty laden process drives away vegans and makes them suspicious of all sugar.
Consumers all over the world desire pristine white sugar which isn’t the natural appearance of cane sugar. Original cane sugar is brown in coloration. Although organic unfiltered brown cane sugar is also available in the market, it is unknown which sugar goes into your factory-made food. It could be brown, it could be the one filtered by bone char.
Manufacturers are never able to record which batch of sugar goes into which product because there are so many producers they acquire it from.
It is also possible that the sugar in your Jolly Ranchers candy was obtained from a producer that uses granular activated carbon instead of bone char.
Maybe cane sugar is not present in your candy at all. Instead, there could be naturally white sugar derived from coconut or beetroot. The problem is, you never know which is which.
We personally recommend you to never worry about processed sugar in your food because it is impossible to track down the source. The sugar in your favorite Jolly Ranchers candy might even be vegan. It probably is.
Natural flavors could be derived from animal sources too
The FDA has time and again specified that natural flavors can be obtained from both animal and plant-based sources. All flavors of Jolly Ranchers suggest that they are possibly derived from fruits, but this is where things get tricky.
Hershey’s has exclaimed that companies are only required to specify the possible allergens in their foods. The company was questioned by a customer about the vegan status of their products a few years ago.
The company said that they cannot guarantee if a product is definitely vegan because they obtain their natural flavors from a third party and there is no way to find out if there is any animal origin.
Many consumers speculate that the natural flavors in Jolly Ranchers are probably vegan because of the fruitplant based taste. This confusion drives stricter vegans away from Jolly Ranchers.
All Jolly Ranchers candies employ food colors
Food coloring agents stand a tough ground in the vegan community. This is because they are often derived from animal sources. Vegans may be happy to know that there are no animal-derived food coloring agents in Jolly Ranchers. Which means all food colorants in these candies are artificially made.
The Red 40 used in Jolly Ranchers is derived from petroleum. Vegans often confuse Red 40 with Red 4 which is derived from crushed insects. Red 4 or carminic acid is not only obtained after killing insects, it’s production also involves the use of egg white, fish glue, or even gelatin.
Red 40, on the other hand, is derived from petroleum or strawberries and is completely vegan-friendly. It is a dark red azo dye commonly used in food products. Although, its use has been recently discouraged because of related health concerns.
Another food colorant used in Jolly Ranchers is Blue 1. This color is produced artificially in the laboratory and is commonly found in medications and cosmetics. Blue 1 has no animal-based source and is considered vegan.
Just like Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are derived from petroleum. It was initially manufactured using coal tar but has since been produced from petroleum as well as strawberries. Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are used in a lot of edible and non-edible everyday products.
There have been concerns regarding the health issues caused by these colorants which is why they have been banned in Austria and Norway.
Artificial colors may be considered vegan owing to their source, but they aren’t cruelty-free.
Artificial colors have been tested on animals for many generations. Scientists test the safety of these substances by administering them to animals in the lab and determining their safe dosage. This means, the animals are subjected to toxic doses that often result in their death.
Animals like rabbits, rats, dogs, and even monkeys are periodically subjected to extreme pain owing to these tests. Most animals die from the adverse effects of these chemicals, the ones that survive with complications are killed. This procedure inevitably results in the death of a large number of innocent animals.
It is ridiculous how humans would kill animals for the sake of a few colors in their meal.
Jolly Ranchers contain Soy Lecithin
PETA lists lecithin amongst animals-derived and potentially animal-derived ingredients. Lecithin is a product used in food substances for its emulsifying properties.
While this is not a certainly non-vegan ingredient, Lecithin is definitely controversial. This is because it can be derived from animals unless specified otherwise.
Jolly Ranchers state that their lecithin is derived from soy, so their lecithin is probably vegan.
So Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan?
All Jolly Ranchers are not vegan. But most of them are. Jolly Ranchers Hard Candy, Lollipops, and Jelly Beans are considered vegan. This is because they contain no animal-based ingredients. There are a few problematic ingredients in Jolly Ranchers which some vegans choose to avoid.
Processed sugar may or may not be filtered using bone char. Likewise, natural flavors may not even be derived from animal-based sources. We personally advise you to not refrain from the consumption of any food substance unless it is definitely vegan.
This is because you’ll end up avoiding a lot of otherwise vegan foods while not making as much impact. Your avoidance of such minute ingredients will not hit the manufacturers hard the way your avoidance of meat, dairy, and the egg does.
Avoiding Jolly Ranchers for the sake of possible animal testing of the food colorants is yet understandable. The cruel practice of testing chemicals on innocent animals needs to stop.