Are Airheads Vegan? Here’s What I Found Out!

Airheads have been a favorite among kids and adults since it’s inception in 1986.

With a variety of fruity flavors, Airheads are a tangy, taffy-like, chewy candy manufactured by a Dutch-Italian company Perfetti Van Melle.

Airheads are available all across the United States, and they are available in a variety of different flavors including cheery, blue raspberry, watermelon, green apple, strawberry, white mystery, orange, grape, strawberry-watermelon, mango-chile, blue raspberry-cherry, and fourteen more flavors. Furthermore, Airheads are also available in different variations.

You have the original Airheads Bars, Airheads Bites, Airheads Soft Filled Bites, Airheads Gummies, Airheads Gum, Airheads Xtremes, Airheads Xtremes Biters & Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls.

Among these variations, you have both vegan and non-vegan Airheads. 

Therefore, if you wish to know which ones are vegan, and which ones aren’t, feel free to continue reading this blog post to learn about it.

Airheads: Are These Fruity Candies Vegan?

Given the number of Airheads varieties, we need to look individually into each one to figure out whether vegans may or not consume them. This being said, let’s start this out by looking at the ingredients present within the original Airheads Bars.

Airheads Bars

airheads bars
Taking into account the list of ingredients at the bottom, which was provided by the website, we can see that technically, the Airheads Bars are suitable for vegans.

You have no sign of animal-based ingredients, even though you can point out a few questionable ingredients — all of which stricter vegans actively avoid.

Also, feel free to order them through Amazon, as it seems to be a safe place to order them from, at least according to the thousands of reviews listed there.

Ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Modified Food Starch (Corn), Palm Oil; contains less than 2% of: Citric Acid, Water, Artificial Flavors, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Yellow 5.

Airheads Bites

airheads bites

Airheads Bites are not vegan. 

They contain two non-vegan ingredients: Beeswax & Shellac. Beeswax is, as the name indicates, wax produced by worker bees within beehives.

Shellac, on the other hand, is a resin secreted by the female lac bug in the forests of India and Thailand. It’s often used as a food coloring, food glaze, and wood finish.

In addition, Airheads Bites also contain questionable ingredients such as sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial colors.

Ingredients: Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil; Contains Less Than 2% Of: Citric Acid, Modified Corn Starch, Sorbitol, Artificial Flavors, Glycerine, Rice Starch, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax, Shellac, Gellan Gum, Sucrose Esters Of Fatty Acids, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Yellow 5

Airheads Soft Filled Bites

airheads soft filled bites
While Airheads Soft Filled Bites do not contain beeswax or shellac, they’re not vegan.

Unfortunately, instead of those ingredients, these Airheads contain gelatin.

If you don’t know what gelatin is, it’s essentially a protein obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of cows or pigs. Gelatin is also used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as well as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings.

Other than gelatin, these Airheads Soft Filled Bites also contain questionable ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, and palm oil.

Ingredients: Sugar, Glucose Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Food Starch – Modified (Corn), Food Starch – Modified (Potato), Contains Less Than 2 Percent Of: Malic Acid, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Coconut Oil, Lactic Acid, Gelatin, Artificial Flavors, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Sorbitol Syrup, Glycerin, Salt, Fumaric Acid, Trisodium Citrate, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6.

Airheads Gummies

airheads gummies
Airheads Gummies are yet another product that isn’t vegan.

For everyone’s dismay— it contains ingredients such as gelatin and beeswax.

That’s not everything. These gummies also have questionable ingredients such as sugar, artificial flavors, and a series of artificial colors, which we’ll cover later on in this blog post.

Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Gelatin, Sorbitol; Contains Less Than 2 Percent Of: Citric Acid, Pectin, Artificial Flavors, Coconut Oil, Sodium Citrate, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6.

Airheads Gum

airheads gum
The Airheads Gum has four different flavors: blue raspberry, cherry, watermelon, and white mystery. Among these four flavors, only one is considered vegan.

The Airheads Gum “White Mystery” is the only flavor that is vegan. The remaining flavors, although they do not contain blatant animal-based ingredients, have carmine.

Carmine is a red food color obtained by drying, crushing, and then boiling the bodies of cochineal beetles.

Other than carmine, Airheads Gum also contains a few questionable ingredients such as artificial flavors, as well as other artificial colors.

Ingredients: Xylitol, Sorbitol, Chewing Gum Base, Glycerol, Maltitol Syrup; Contains Less Than 2 Percent Of: Malic Acid, Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Aspartame, Carrageenan, Coconut Fat, Sucralose, Lecithin (Soy), Acesulfame K, Sucrose Fatty Acid Esters, BHT to Maintain Freshness, Blue 1 Lake, Color (Carmines).

Airheads Xtremes

airheads xtremes
Other than some of the “questionable” ingredients listed on the label, Airheads Xtremes do not contain any animal-based ingredients.

Therefore, they are technically considered vegan. You are free to buy Airheads Xtremes in one of the stores near you, or you can easily get them through Amazon.

Ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Wheat Flour, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Food Starch – Modified (Corn), Food Starch, Modified (Potato), Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Contains Less than 2% of: Glycerine, Artificial Flavors, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5.

Airheads Xtremes Bites

xtremes bites
Akin to the Airheads Xtremes, the Xtremes Bites are only available in one flavor: Rainbow Berry.

However, unlike Airheads Xtremes, the Xtremes Bites are not vegan.

Unfortunately, the Xtremes Bites contain carmine, which, as mentioned, is a red food color obtained by drying, crushing, and boiling the carcass of cochineal beetles.

And as always, it also contains other questionable ingredients I’ll mention later on in this blog post.

Ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Food Starch – Modified (Corn), Contains Less Than 2 Percent Of: Food Starch, Modified (Potato), Wheat Starch, Malic Acid, Palm Oil, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavors, Salt, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Potassium Citrate, Colors Added, Carmine, Blue 1

Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls

xtremes sourfuls

So far the only vegan Airheads Xtremes is the first I’ve mentioned. Quite sadly, it will remain so.

The Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls have gelatin, and thus cannot be considered vegan.

It also has a bunch of other questionable ingredients such as artificial flavors, palm oil, as well as added colors. All ingredients associated with animal cruelty.

Ingredients: Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Food Starch – Modified (Corn), Malic Acid, Food Starch – Modified (Potato); Contains Less Than 2 Percent Of: Dextrose, Wheat Starch, Citric Acid, Coconut Oil, Lactic Acid, Gelatin, Artificial Flavors, Sodium Malates, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Salt, Glycerol, Fumaric Acid, Sorbitol Syrup, Trisodium Citrate, Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5.

Questionable Ingredients.

Questionable ingredients are ingredients considered controversial within the vegan community.

Even though they are vegan (i.e: they’re not a byproduct of animals or animals themselves), there is a degree of association between their consumption and the impact such consumption has on animal lives and the environment.

Unfortunately, every “Airheads” product has those ingredients.


Companies in some countries (including the United States) use bone char to filter and bleach cane sugar. Unfortunately, bone char is obtained by carbonizing the bones of cattle and is used specifically to give sugar its distinctive white, pristine color.

Not every sugar supplier/company uses bone char. In fact, some suppliers rely on granular activated charcoal to achieve the same result. There are also companies that use sugar extracted from sugar beets, a type of sugar that does not require bone char. Instead, it is put through a diffuser and mixed with additives in order to crystallize.

Both cane and beet sugar are used in equal amounts in the United States. And although bone char is banned in some countries, it is not banned in the United States. Sadly, there’s a possibility Airheads may contain sugar refined with bone char because Airheads (both Xtremes and Bars) are manufactured in the United States.

And unless you contact the company, you will never know because that information is not disclosed in any product label.

Palm Oil

Why is palm oil a questionable ingredient? Well, conventional palm oil farming is responsible for the massive destruction of rainforests and natural habitats. As a result, animal species end up losing their homes and die because they’re unable to adapt.

Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. It’s also in those two countries where a population of orangutangs (and more) is being pushed to extinction.

If we don’t do anything to curb the demand for palm oil, not only are we going to destroy the amazing rainforests in those two countries, but we’ll also be responsible for the extinction of unique species such as the Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, the Sumatran tigers, the Bornean Pygmy elephants, the Sumatran rhinoceros, and the Malayan sun bears.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of an orangutan fighting for his home:

Aside from the animals living in Indonesia and Malaysia, you also have locals that were evicted from their lands and impoverished as a result.

A saddening outcome caused by the insatiable consumption of the western world.

Artificial Colors & Flavors

When you choose to eat a favorite candy, you’re probably eating something that contains both artificial flavors and colors.

Airheads, to be more precise, contain a wide range of colorings. They have Red 40, Blue 1, carmine, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and perhaps more depending on the flavor you choose.

Unfortunately for animals, those ingredients have been tested on them.

More importantly, it should be mentioned that animal tests are still conducted on a regular basis because most of the colorings in food (and other products) are associated with health risks.

These are tests recently conducted in 2017 and 2018. As you see, not that long ago.

(Some) Natural Flavors

Most natural flavors are considered vegan because most are extracted from plant-based sources and not animal sources.

This being said, here’s what the FDA has to say about natural flavors:

“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

One popular natural flavor is castoreum.

Castoreum is a liquid extracted from beavers in the United States and Europe. In fact, it is generally used to produce vanilla flavorings but it can also be used to enhance both strawberry and raspberry flavorings.

“Airheads” is available in both strawberry and raspberry flavor, so there’s a possibility castoreum may have been used. However, it is also irresponsible of me to assume they’re using castoreum for both those flavors.

Therefore, the best course of action is to contact the company before confirming it.

*No response as of yet.

Summary: Some Airheads Are Vegan.

To be more precise, both the Airheads Bars and the Airheads Xtremes are vegan.

However, they both still contain some of the questionable ingredients we’ve mentioned earlier in this blog post. In other words, they still contain ingredients associated with animal cruelty.

Stricter vegans may ultimately decide to avoid those “vegan” products, but at the same time, if you’re like most vegans, this is something you might still eat because it’s technically considered vegan.

Thanks for being vegan!

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

Are Smarties Vegan? Here’s What You Need To Know!
Previous Post Are Smarties Vegan? Here’s What You Need To Know!
Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Suitable For Vegans?
Next Post Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Suitable For Vegans?