Atomic Fireballs are a popular jawbreaker candy invented by Nello Ferrara in 1954 using the hot panned candy process.
Today, it is owned and manufactured by the Ferrara Candy Company, and it is estimated that 15 million people consume atomic fireballs every week, all across the world. Figures that I don’t entirely doubt, taking into account their popularity on Amazon.
They’re known for their intense cinnamon flavor and mouth-burning sensation that exhilarates the taste buds with fiery, but addicting sweetness.
If you’ve recently turned vegan but are wondering if this childhood favorite is free from animal ingredients, then let me tell you that the Atomic Fireballs are technically vegan.
Even so, there are some things you may take issue with.
Atomic Fireballs: Ingredients
To further understand why some vegans may take issue with Atomic Fireballs being considered vegan, we need to have a closer look at the ingredients.
Here are Atomic Fireballs’s ingredients taken from Ferrara Candy Company’s website:
- Modified Food Starch (Corn)
- Artificial Flavor
- Carnauba Wax
- Acacia (Gum Arabic)
- Titanium Dioxide (Color)
- Red 40 Lake
When I first turned vegan, I didn’t know what happened behind the scenes before some of these ingredients came into existence and were introduced into products.
In fact, when the vegan movement was simply an inaudible voice, most people didn’t read too much into the label, and so people were okay with it.
This being said, I’ve got to reference some of the questionable ingredients present in the Atomic Fireballs, and I’d like to invite you to pay attention to this.
Why not all sugar is vegan.
At its core, sugar is an ingredient extracted from plant-based sources like sugarcane and beets.
However, the issue is what happens to sugar when it’s extracted. Before sugar hits the shelves, most of it is filtered and processed using different ingredients and methods.
Refined sugar extracted from sugar beets is filtered via a diffuser, and it’s mixed with additives in order to crystallize. Through this method, no animal ingredients are used.
But refined sugar extracted from sugarcane follows a slightly different method.
For this type of sugar to attain its white and pristine color, sugar companies may use a property called bone char, which is literally used to bleach or decolorize sugar, removing its impurities.
The good news is that some companies now use activated charcoal to achieve the same result, and some companies use beet sugar instead of cane sugar. (Red Bull is one such company)
However, the scenario for most companies is a mix of both. For instance, Oreos relies on several suppliers to obtain sugar, so what you get is a mix of sugars and subsequently, methods. As a result, some Oreos tubes may be vegan and others aren’t.
It’s also worth mentioning that some countries which include a number of European countries, Australia and New Zealand have banned the use of bone char. Therefore, if you know where the sugar comes from, you may know whether or not it’s vegan.
At the same time, bone char is a practice that is still common in the United States and the Ferrara Candy Company is an American candy manufacturer, so there is a possibility they use bone char.
Artificial flavors are anything that is inedible (i.e: petroleum) that is processed in order to create chemicals of flavorings. In fact, let’s take a look at the FDA’s definition:
“The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.”
In other words, it cannot be derived from natural sources, including animals.
However, since artificial flavors are basically chemical components scientists called “flavorists” mix up to create flavors that are added to food, they must be regulated.
In fact, that is why regulators like the U.S Food and Drug Administration have the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). The CFSAN has a manual, Redbook 2000, that details the tests to be used for new food additives or ingredients.
Unfortunately, these tests include experiments on dogs, as well as other animals.
Many tests in America and other countries are performed on rodents, but may also include guinea pigs and rabbits. These tests can vary from animals eating the food or ingredients, or put them against the skin or eyes as scientists oversee the short and long-term effects.
In conclusion, not every vegan is cool with eating products due to these tests.
Red 40 Lake (Artificial Color)
The same reasoning is applied to artificial colors like the Red 40 Lake.
Artificial colors have been around for quite some time but they are still periodically tested due to their association with harmful health effects.
While I can’t say for sure that most vegans avoid artificial colors, what I can say is that a large number of vegans are actually vocal against them for this reason.
Summary: Technically, Atomic Fireballs Are Vegan.
Yes, Atomic Fireballs do not have animal ingredients.
This being said, they still have questionable ingredients such as sugar, artificial flavors, and colors.
These ingredients aren’t exactly popular among vegans due to obvious reasons I’ve mentioned above, so whether you consume Atomic Fireballs or not really depends on your own definition of veganism.
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