Are Pixy Stix Suitable For Vegans?

Pixy Stix is a sweet and sour colored candy that resembles a drinking straw. It was invented back in 1940, but the straws we know today weren’t launched until 1950, exactly 10 years later.

They were originally designed to be a drink mix, but that eventually changed into today’s version, an artificially colored sugar tube that children absolutely love.

The Pixy Stix are technically considered vegan, but some stricter vegans may not agree with this conclusion. To better understand why we must look at the ingredients.

Pixy Stix Ingredients

Akin to many fizzy powdered products like Sherbet, Starburst, Fun Dip— the Pixy Stix are a combination of artificial flavors and colors.

Ingredients: Dextrose, Citric Acid, and less than 2% of Maltodextrin, Artificial/Natural Flavors, and Artificial Colors (Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake).

From a technical standpoint, the Pixy Stix do not contain any animal ingredients. So, for most vegans, this is a product they’re allowed to consume.

However, the picture changes when we include more strict vegans.

For vegans that take animal rights seriously, they know that natural flavors and added colors have serious implications when it comes to animal wellbeing.

Natural Flavors

To better illustrate the issue with natural flavors, allow me to bring up the FDA’s definition of natural flavors:

“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means 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.”

This means that the flavor can be extracted from any natural source, including animals.

Now, I might be jumping the gun here, but there may be a connection between two of the Pixy Stix flavors and a natural animal source called “Castoreum”.

Castoreum is essentially a liquid obtained from beavers in order to produce vanilla flavorings.

However, it can also be used to enhance strawberry and raspberry flavors in foods. Both of which are Pixy Stix flavors. If this is the case, the Pixy Stix wouldn’t be considered vegan.

Added Colors

Every old-school rainbow-colored candy contains colors.

Pixy Stix, according to its ingredient label, contains a wide range of colors that include Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake.

All of which have been tested on animals before being approved by the FDA.

Sadly, in most tests conducted on animals, you are bound to find some casualties. Mice, in particular, are used in a wide range of experiments. But dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits are also among some of the animals used in these experiments.

More importantly, what I found recently, is that even though artificial colors have been around for a long time, there is still a need to conduct periodic testing due to their association with health risks.

In fact, here are tests conducted in 2017 and 2018 to assess the effects of Red 40 on rats.


In the end, it all comes down to you as a vegan.

Are you okay with consuming artificial colors, knowing that these are periodically tested on animals? Are you okay with natural flavors that may (or not) be derived from an animal source?

Frankly, this all comes down to the individual and his or her own definition of veganism.

I personally try to avoid both ingredients, but I also consume them sporadically on very rare occasions. I don’t believe that makes me less vegan than the strictest of vegans.

What matters is that we’re all making a conscious effort towards a kinder future.

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!

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