Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Candies are probably one of the most complicated things for vegans to understand. Working out whether you can eat a certain kind of candy often involves a lot of research, as you try to check out the colors, flavorings, and stabilizers to make sure the product is okay.

Jolly Rancher produces popular sweets that many people enjoy every day, but unfortunately, many of this company’s products are not suitable for vegans to eat. There may be a few you can have, but on the whole, you need to steer clear of all these candies.

In this article, we’re going to look at why vegans can’t eat most Jolly Rancher candies, as well as the options that may be okay.

Are Jolly Ranchers Okay For Vegans?

jolly ranchers

This popular American brand makes a whole range of sweets and candies that are popular throughout America. You have probably heard of and eaten many of these before, as they offer an enormous variety. From sodas to lollipops to ice cream to gummies, there are options made by Jolly Rancher.

That makes it difficult to know whether the brand is safe for vegans because some of the products might be. However, it is worth noting that Jolly Rancher makes no claims about producing vegan products, and on the whole, the products should be treated as not vegan unless you can prove otherwise.

The ingredients will vary significantly between products, but many will contain unsuitable ingredients, such as:

  • Sugar
  • Gelatin
  • Lecithin
  • Beeswax
  • Confectioner’s glaze

It should be noted that even if you find Jolly Rancher products that appear to be vegan based on the label, this company specifically does not make any claims to having vegan products, and none of the products are certified as vegan. If you are a strict vegan, you may therefore wish to avoid them to be safe.

Why Do Vegans Need To Be Wary Of Sugar?

You may already know that sugar can be a problematic ingredient for vegans. Despite being derived from plant sources only, it is not necessarily vegan friendly, because some sugar is processed with charred cattle bones. 

These are used in the whitening stage, and although no bone particles are contained in the final product, many vegans are still uncomfortable with the idea. Purchasing white sugar that has been processed in this way indirectly supports the meat industry, which most vegans object to.

Sugar cane is the only white sugar processed in this way, and some sugar cane is processed using vegan-friendly methods. However, there is no way of knowing whether the sugar in Jolly Rancher candies is vegan or not.

The parent company purchases sugar from many different sources and uses both cane sugar and beet sugar without any claims to it being vegan. Unless the packaging specifically says that beet sugar has been used, you should therefore be cautious when you see sugar in the ingredients list.

Gelatin

Almost all vegans are familiar with gelatin as a problematic substance, and unfortunately, it is often present in candy. A lot of the soft candies that Jolly Rancher produces, such as gummies and fruit chews, will contain gelatin.

Gelatin is used because it gives candies a distinctive, chewy texture that many people find satisfying. Unfortunately, however, it is a product that is made using the hooves of cows, so it is not suitable for vegans to consume.

Gelatin is one of the commonest ingredients that vegans run into when looking for suitable candy, so if you are inspecting the packaging of any of the Jolly Rancher products, this is a key one to look out for. It isn’t present in all of the products by any means, but it’s certainly commonly used.

Lecithin

This is a trickier ingredient because it can be derived from both plant and animal sources. Although many manufacturers are getting better about labeling how they have acquired this ingredient, Jolly Rancher has not yet done so.

That means you have no way of determining whether the lecithin has been taken from animals or not. Most lecithin comes from soy, which is listed as an allergen on many of the Jolly Rancher labels, but this isn’t always guaranteed as its primary source.

If you are a strict vegan, it is best to be cautious. You should either contact Jolly Rancher directly to clarify where they source their lecithin from, or avoid products that contain it. Otherwise, you may be contributing to animal suffering.

Beeswax

You might be surprised to see beeswax in foods, but this is a common ingredient in candies, because it has some unique properties. It can be used to add shine and smoothness to products, so if you purchase something glossy, it may contain beeswax.

It is also used as the basis for some gums, because it is food safe but helps with the chewy, lasting texture. You should check carefully for this ingredient in a range of different places if you want to purchase Jolly Rancher candy.

Not all vegans avoid beeswax, since no bees are harmed when this wax is produced. However, it is not a product that is made for humans, so bees are being exploited when we harvest it from them.

Each individual will have to make decisions on this accordingly, and you may feel that beeswax doesn’t concern you. Alternatively, you might strongly object to this product. Either way, look out for it on labels so you can make an informed decision.

Confectioner’s Glaze

This ingredient sounds innocent, but unfortunately, it is usually made using resin that is produced by a kind of insect. The lac insect makes resin that can be used to produce shellac, a shiny product that makes foods glossy and smooth. You may have seen this in a variety of candies.

Although the insect is not hurt by producing the resin, the harvesting process sadly kills thousands of them each year. Vegans should avoid confectioner’s glaze, which is used in mane Jolly Rancher candies.

Other Ingredients

There are a few other things that may raise concerns among vegans. For example, some of the Jolly Rancher candies contain carnauba wax. Like sugar, this is derived from plant crops, so it is technically vegan, but it isn’t that simple.

Carnauba wax is taken from palms, and the deforestation of land to produce palm crops has caused major problems and resulted in mass habitat loss on a vast scale. It is also thought to wreak havoc on the natural biodiversity in the area.

If you choose to avoid things like palm oil, you may wish to avoid carnauba wax too. It can be difficult to eliminate every problematic ingredient when choosing what foods to eat, but carnauba wax is worth taking note of when you are weighing up these sorts of decisions.

What Jolly Rancher Products Can Vegans Eat?

If you want to find a few products that you can consume, you’re in luck, because there are some. Jolly Rancher candies may not be certified as vegan, but many do not contain animal products, and so can be consumed by vegans. Keep an eye on things like sugar, however, and decide where you stand before purchasing.

It is also crucial to remember that companies often change their recipes, and this is particularly true when a product is not certified as vegan. Jolly Rancher can add or remove ingredients as it suits the company, without having to change the packaging or draw your attention to the alteration.

You should therefore check the ingredients lists thoroughly before purchasing products, in case there have been any alterations. However, you can now eat some of the Jolly Rancher candies.

Jelly Beans

The Jolly Rancher jelly beans are generally considered safe for vegans. They do not contain any confectioner’s glaze, gelatin, beeswax, or other problematic ingredients. However, they do contain sugar, and this is not verified as coming from vegan sources. 

It is also important to note that if you are a strict vegan, you might choose to avoid the coloring known as Red 40, which does appear in these jelly beans. This is another technically vegan product, but some vegans avoid it. It has been tested on animals, so if you object to that industry, you may not be able to consume these jelly beans.

Many vegans, though, will be happy to eat the jelly beans, so a lot of people count them as vegan-friendly.

Lollipops

Again, the company’s lollipops contain Red 40, but they are generally considered okay for vegans. The flavorings are natural, and the other ingredients should be suitable for a vegan to eat. The product contains lecithin, so you may want to contact Jolly Rancher and ask how this is sourced.

If the lecithin was sourced from animal products, you will have to give the lollipops a miss. However, it seems likely that soy lecithin has been used, in which case, you can eat the lollipops if you don’t mind the Red 40.

Jolly Rancher has not got these lollipops certified as vegan friendly, so be aware of that before you buy them. They may contain controversial ingredients or have been cross-contaminated by other products. However, most vegans count these as a safe product to eat.

Hard Candies

If you are a big fan of the hard candies this company produces, you are in luck, because these are another option that is generally considered vegan. You should check the ingredients list of each product, however, as you are likely to see artificial colors like Red 40, and possibly ingredients like shellac.

Which hard candies you can eat will depend heavily on how dedicated you are to your veganism, and how strict you wish to be. Very strict vegans are safer not buying or consuming any of the Jolly Rancher hard candies.

Why Doesn’t Jolly Rancher Make More Vegan Products?

It is difficult to say why the company isn’t creating vegan-friendly products, particularly given how fast this section of the market is growing. However, it is likely because this company is so big and has such a wide range of products, it’s very difficult to certify products as vegan.

To do so, Jolly Rancher would have to assess the origin of all its ingredients, which is a vast list. The company would need to research the sources, inspect their claims, and consider any controversial ingredients (like sugar or food coloring). It might also have to make big changes to some of its recipes.

Hopefully, this company will start offering more vegan products in the future. However, it is currently easier for the company to list products as non-certified and allow individuals to determine whether they are happy to eat the product or not.

Are There Vegan Alternatives?

You should be able to find vegan alternatives for almost all kinds of Jolly Rancher products. Some will be trickier than others, but on the whole, most candies will have a vegan imitation somewhere.

Dum Dums

dum dums

If you love the Jolly Rancher lollipops but you aren’t happy with the ingredients, you might find that Dum Dums are the perfect solution. These lollies are vegan-friendly, free from most major allergens, and very delicious.

GoOrganic Hard Candy

go organic hard candies

To replace the hard candy that is produced by Jolly Rancher, you might want to check out the GoOrganic hard candy, which comes in a whole range of flavors and makes a great substitute. These are gluten-free, allergen-free, and very delicious.

You should look out for your favorite flavors so you can replace your craving for Jolly Rancher hard candy with a craving for this delicious, ethical treat instead.

Conclusion

Jolly Rancher does manufacture some vegan-friendly products, but it is important to note that not all of their products are. You may be able to pick up a few snacks, especially if you take a more flexible approach to veganism. However, it is generally best to find a company that has certified vegan products and is deliberately sourcing ethical ingredients.