Are Ring Pops Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Ring Pop(s) is a brand of fruit-flavored lollipops manufactured by Topps, an American company that produces chewing gum, candy, and also collectibles such as sport and non-sport-themed trading cards.  

Their lollipops come in the form of a wearable plastic ring with a large hard candy jewel and a variety of flavors, including strawberry, blue raspberry, watermelon, berry blast, and more. 

So, are Ring Pops vegan? Ring Pops do not contain animal ingredients so by definition they are suitable for vegans. However, they still contain controversial ingredients such as sugar and artificial colors, which some vegans might regard as non-vegan.

Let’s dive further into what’s inside Ring Pops.

Ring Pops Ingredients

Ring Pops are available in different flavors, so some ingredients may slightly vary, however, the core ingredients are pretty much the same.

Ring Pop
Photo by Mike Mozart, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Here are the ingredients that are present in Ring Pops:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Lactic Acid
  • Sodium Lactate
  • Natural & Artificial Flavors
  • Artificial Colors

These ingredients are generally vegan. That’s because they are derived from plant-based sources, even ones such as lactic acid and sodium lactate (which have suspicious names)

Lactic acid is a byproduct of the bacterial fermentation of sugar. It may come from sources like dairy and meat but it is usually vegan. Lactic acid is primarily found in or made using fermented vegetables, cereals, and legumes, which makes it a vegan substance. 

Sodium lactate is also a byproduct of the bacterial fermentation of sugar, but it usually comes from natural sources such as corn or beets. It might not always be vegan but that’s rare. 

These ingredients tend to be compliant with a vegan diet, so you shouldn’t worry about them too much, though you’re also free to question the companies if you want to play it safe. 

Are Ring Pops Vegan?

Ring Pops don’t have any flagrant animal ingredients, whether it’s gelatin, carmine, or beeswax, which are ingredients one can find in products of similar nature. 

Because it doesn’t have these animal-derived ingredients, Ring Pops are regarded as being vegan-friendly, however, some vegans will claim that that is not the case. 

Ring Pops contain what we tend to call “controversial” ingredients, which are ingredients whose vegan status is hard to pinpoint. Those ingredients in Ring Pops are sugar and artificial colors.

Feel free to continue reading as we’ll elaborate on that below. 

Why Is Sugar Controversial?

Sugar generally comes from two sources: sugarcane and beets.

Both sugars are similar in taste and texture, but their refining processes differ. On one hand, we have beet sugar that is extracted using a diffuser and mixed with additives to crystallize. It’s always vegan.

On the other hand, we got cane sugar which is made by crushing sugarcane stalks to separate the pulp from the juice and then filtering the juice with bone char – which is a problem. 

What is Bone Char?

According to PETA, bone char is made from the bones of cattle from countries like Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan. The bones are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then re-sell them to sugar companies in the United States.

cattle bones

Bone char, also known as natural carbon, is used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which is what gives refined sugar its white, pristine color. Bone char can also be added to other forms of sugar. 

For instance, brown sugar is created by adding molasses to refined sugar, so companies that use bone char in regular, refined sugar, also include bone char in brown sugar production.

For this reason, the more cautious and stringent vegans might avoid products that contain regularly refined sugar, especially if they know that the company sources from suppliers that rely on bone char. 

Additional Note:
Companies tend to source their sugar from a mixed pool of suppliers, so it’s difficult to trace the sugar back to its source – or in other words, it’s difficult to know whether it’s 100% vegan or not.

Why Are Artificial Colors Controversial?

Red 40 is generally derived from either petroleum or coal, while Blue 1 and Yellow 5, 6 come from petroleum.

These are non-animal sources, but there’s an issue. 

Artificial colors, in general, are tested on animals (mice, rats, and occasionally dogs).

Dyes are fed to these animals to monitor the emergence of potential health issues, which may occur from time to time in the form of tumors. In any case, even if they do not die from the collateral effects caused by these dyes, they’re killed when the testing is done as they’re deemed no longer necessary. 

While I’m not sure whether or not tests on artificial flavors are conducted on a very frequent basis, I’ve learned that artificial colors are periodically tested to assess potential health risks. Tests conducted in 2017 and 2018 are available online for everyone to see. 

This is something that most vegans (or all vegans) do not agree with, and whilst it may be considered a necessary evil, some vegans just prefer to avoid ingredients (and products) that may have been tested on animals before getting commercialized.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, Ring Pops are considered vegan because of the lack of blatant animal ingredients, however, I do understand the reasons why some people may want to avoid them. 

The use of bone char is still an ongoing practice, particularly in the United States, so there is a probability that Ring Pops may contain bone-char bleached sugar.

However, that might also not be the case for every single product, which is hard to tell because companies tend to source from different suppliers, including ones that use vegan-friendly alternatives. That is the case with the ever-so-popular Oreo cookies. 

Artificial colors are also a tough subject because of animal testing, and how it’s an ongoing thing. 

Ring Pops FAQs

Are Ring Pops Gluten-Free?

Yes, Ring Pops are indeed gluten-free as they do not contain any ingredients that might be unsafe for a person who is gluten intolerant or who may have been diagnosed with celiac disease. 

Are Ring Pops Peanut-Free?

Yes, Ring Pops do not contain any nuts, nor are they manufactured in a facility that may also handle nuts, which means they’re suitable for people with a nut allergy. 

Are Ring Pops Halal?

Unlike many other sweets, Ring Pops do not contain gelatin or carmine, which makes them halal. 

Do Ring Pops Still Exist?

Yes, Ring Pops still exist and they still remain quite popular. Even websites like Amazon successfully sell Ring Pops, as one can verify as per the thousands of customer reviews written on a daily basis. 

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!