Teddy Grahams are bear-shaped graham crackers that belong to Nabisco, a brand under the multinational company Mondelez International. Teddy Grahams come in two different shapes: bears with arms up and legs closed, and bears with arms down and legs open.
Originally, Teddy Grahams were available in honey, cinnamon, and chocolate flavors. Over time, they launched the vanilla flavor, a chocolate-chip birthday cake flavor, and the discontinued oatmeal variety which had been introduced as a cereal.
Needless to say, Nabisco has tested different varieties under the Teddy Grahams brand over the years, but in this short blog post, we’re going to cover the graham crackers, which are by far the most popular product.
Some Teddy Grahams’ flavors are vegan, with some obvious exceptions.
In addition, there are some ingredients present in vegan-friendly Teddy Grahams that may not be vegan — depending on your point of view as well as factors inherent to each ingredient.
Which Teddy Grahams Flavors Are Vegan?
Teddy Grahams is currently available in 4 flavors:
- Chocolate Chip
- And Cinnamon
Out of these four flavors, one of them is suitable for vegans.
Teddy Grahams Honey Snacks
There is an ingredient in this variation that poses a grave concern to vegans worldwide.
That ingredient is honey, and through the lenses of vegans, it is associated with animal exploitation for several reasons we’ll mention below.
Honey aside, the other ingredients are vegan-friendly. Akin to the majority of graham crackers, Teddy Grahams make use of graham flour, vegetable oil, and salt. It was common in the past to use shortening or lard (pig fat), but that is no longer a common practice, especially in mass-produced graham crackers.
Why are vegans against honey?
There are several reasons why vegans don’t consume honey. Besides being an ingredient that is designed for bees, it’s also associated with some degree of cruelty:
- When commercial beekeepers take away the honey, they often replace it with sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. These are, unfortunately, ingredients that don’t provide bees the beneficial nutrients honey possesses. As a result, it makes it harder for bees to make it through the winter season because they have a weakened immune system.
- Also, it’s also known that queen bees have their wings clipped in an attempt to prevent swarming. In other words, because the queen bee is unable to fly, the worker bees are forced to stay in the beehive, being unable to fly off and create a new colony. This practice ensures there isn’t a decline in production and profit.
Bottom line: Large-scale bee farming is detrimental to bees’ health, which is why vegans, in general, choose to not consume honey. That, quite frankly, makes sense.
Teddy Grahams Chocolate & Chocolate Chip Snacks
Although the chocolate-flavored Teddy Grahams do not contain obvious animal ingredients, there is an ingredient called Confectioner’s Glazed made from shellac or “beetle juice” that is inconspicuously listed near the end.
What is shellac?
Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes and dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac. In this particular case, it is being used as a food glaze, but it can also be used as a colorant or wood finish.
Shellac is scraped from the bark of the tree where the female lac bug secretes a tunnel-like substance (shellac) that acts as a “cocoon” (see image above). However, scrapping off the shellac from trees actually ends up killing lac bugs and eggs, which is why vegans are against its use.
Bottom line: The chocolate-flavored Teddy Grahams are NOT vegan because they contain confectioner’s glaze, which is made from shellac, an insect-derived ingredient.
Teddy Grahams Cinnamon Snacks
The cinnamon-flavored Teddy Grahams is the only variation without animal ingredients.
However, even this vegan-friendly option may have ingredients that NOT all vegans may immediately consume. For example, the cinnamon-flavored Teddy Grahams contain two often controversial ingredients: sugar and natural flavor.
Sugar, in particular, is deeply concerning because of Mondelez International, the multinational that owns Nabisco. I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts but I’ll do it again.
Sugar can come from two sources: beets or sugar canes.
The two are used in similar amounts, but they have different processing methods. Cane sugar, while not always, can be filtered and bleached using bone char, a property also known as natural carbon. It’s a decolorizing and deashing agent used to remove inorganic impurities, but it also provides sugar with its white and stainless appearance.
Unfortunately, sugar companies acquire bone char by carbonizing the bones of cattle. And that’s where the problem lies. While this practice is banned in some European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, it still takes place in the United States.
Mondelez International, the company behind Nabisco uses bone char, as we can see from this email:
However, not all their suppliers rely on bone char, which is why the majority of vegans still consume sugar despite the potential for bone char. It’s not like every product contains bone char, which is extremely hard to trace, if not impossible.
Bottom line: Unfortunately, some cane sugar may be refined using carbonized bones. Mondelez International, the company that owns Nabisco, has several sugar suppliers, including ones that use bone char to refine sugar. Depending on what type of vegan you are, you may or not consume Teddy Grahams based on this fact.
The problem with natural flavors is that it can come from both plant and animal sources. However, because it’s stated as “natural flavors”, you have no way of knowing which one is it, unless you actually contact the company.
Some vegans are against it because companies may sometimes hide animal ingredients under the “natural flavors” umbrella even though the other ingredients are fully plant-based.
Furthermore, companies are not required to reveal what these natural flavors are because it’s often a way for companies to hide their “secret sauce”.
Take a beverage like ginger ale, for instance.
While it may seem 100% plant-based, it turns out the natural flavors may be derived from honey, even though that’s not always the case.
Because of this, some vegans find themselves hesitating a bit, and avoid natural flavors.
That being said, I can confidently say that the majority of natural flavors in foods are actually plant-based, so I doubt that any action you take will have a drastic impact on animal cruelty.
Bottom line: Teddy Grahams contain natural flavors, which may or may not come from an animal source. Based on this fact, you may or not consume Teddy Grahams.
Summary: Not All Teddy Grahams Are Vegan.
In fact, according to what I’ve investigated, only one variation is vegan.
That variation is the cinnamon-flavor Teddy Grahams, which you can easily find on Amazon, or in any other online platform able to sell food.
Unfortunately, the honey and chocolate-flavored variations contain honey and confectioner’s glaze, both ingredients that are associated with the fatality of insects like bees and the Kerrie Lacca, or the lady lac bug.
The vegan-friendly variation contains ingredients like sugar or natural flavor, which are regarded as controversial ingredients, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consume them.
In the end, a product that only contains plant-based ingredients is considered to be vegan.
Thank you for reading! I hope this blog post has helped.