First coming to the market around 50 years ago, Sour Patch Kids has become one of the most beloved candies in America and outside America. The candies come in several different flavors, but they all have one thing in common – the slightly sour kick that turns sugary sweet.
As much as we might have loved them while growing up, vegans might want to steer clear of them. While there aren’t any obvious animal-based ingredients in the candy, there are quite a few ingredients that could possibly not be vegan-friendly. However, Peta considers Sour Patch Kids vegan. So, let’s dive more into it, and let you decide for yourself.
What are Sour Patch Kids made of?
When it comes to gummy candies, a common component found in them is gelatin. Gelatin is used as a gelling agent to give the candy a chewy and jelly-like texture. As it’s extracted from animal collagen, bones or connective tissues, or fish – it’s a well-known ingredient for vegans to avoid. Surprisingly, you don’t see gelatin listed on the Sour Patch Kids package. So are they vegan-friendly?
To answer that question, let’s first look at the ingredient list of the original Sour Patch Kids.
We cannot see anything listed in there that screams non-vegan. However, quite a few of those components are questionable – and cannot be labeled either as vegan or non-vegan without any further information from the manufacturer.
Questionable ingredients in Sour Patch Kids
So, what are those components in Sour Patch Kids that could potentially not be suitable for vegans? Let’s break them down, and you can decide whether they are an issue for you or not.
- Sugar – Sugar is a tricky subject for vegans living in the United States. While it’s not an issue in most of the world, the sugar industry heavily relies on bone char in the USA. Bone char is used as a decolorizing filter, to allow cane sugar to achieve its white color. Mondelez International, the parent company of Sour Patch Kids, has said that they have several sugar suppliers, and some of them do use animal-derived natural charcoal (aka bone char) in their cane sugar refining process. They also stated that they cannot give a definite answer as to whether or not bone char was used in the sugar refining process of a particular product.
- Natural and artificial flavors – Natural flavors could potentially be derived from animal-based sources such as meat, fish, or dairy. When it comes to artificial flavors, the issue lies in animal testing.
- Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, Blue 1 – All these are artificial food colorings. Red 40 was originally produced from coal tar but is now commonly from petroleum. The yellow dyes are also made from byproducts of petroleum. And Blue 1 is no different. While those dyes do not sound healthy in any way, they are free from any animal-based ingredients. However, as we mentioned above, artificial ingredients are heavily tested on animals. The dyes are fed to animals to monitor them and see if any health issues arise. If the animals don’t die from that, they are killed after.
Other than those components found in the ingredient list, Sour Patch Kids seems to also have a secret formula. Some people believe that gelatin is a part of that, but we have no way of knowing whether that’s the case or not.
So are Sour Patch Kids vegan?
It’s hard to give a definite answer to this. The sour candy contains no ingredients directly sourced from animals – but quite a few of the components are not very animal friendly. You can find Sour Patch kids listed on Peta’s accidentally vegan page under the snacks category.
However, I don’t think we can label them vegan simply because of the use of bone char in their sugar. We have no way of knowing what kind of natural flavors are used in the candy, and that’s another thing for vegans to worry about. For strict vegans, the artificial colors and flavors also pose an issue.
Sour Patch Kids is one of those snacks that technically are vegan, but at the same time, are not. At the end of the day, it comes down to your ethics and what you feel comfortable with consuming. If you have just switched to a vegan diet, and don’t want to give Sour Patch Kids up just yet – that’s okay. But if you don’t find them suitable for a vegan diet, there are many alternatives to try instead.
100% vegan alternatives to Sour Patch Kids
I have never been a huge fan of Sour Patch Kids, don’t judge me. I’d enjoy them maybe once or twice a year when growing up, but that’s about it. So for me, it hasn’t been an issue to completely stop consuming them. But are you someone who has always loved the candy, yet no longer feels comfortable eating it on a vegan diet? There are candies similar to Sour Patch Kids that are entirely vegan-friendly!
- YumEarth Organic Sour Beans– Sweet and sour like Sour Patch Kids are. But these are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. The sugar used here is organic cane sugar, and the candy is free from any artificial dyes. As it carries the vegan label, you don’t have to worry about the natural flavoring. The Sour Beans is only one of the vegan-friendly candy options that the brand offers.
- Candy People Sour Viking – This sour candy features strawberry, pear, cherry, black currant, lemon, and orange flavors. Like the Yum Earth candy, Sour Viking is non-GMO, gluten-free, and carries the vegan logo. There are no artificial colors or flavors to worry about.
- Dare Foods Co RealFruit Sours – This is another tasty alternative to Sour Patch Kids. The sour gummies have a sugar coating and are absolutely delicious. There are several candies to choose from – Sour Citrus Burst, Summerfruit Burst, Tropical, Superfruits, and Medley.
- Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears – These gummies don’t have that sour kick, but they are tasty and definitely worth a taste. As the name suggests, the candy is organic, and there are no controversial ingredients found in them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sour Patch Kids is one of those snacks that technically are vegan, but at the same time, are not. The use of bone char in their sugar is the biggest issue.
Just like the original Sour Patch Kids, they contain sugar and other questionable ingredients that some vegans choose to avoid.
It depends on whether you feel comfortable with consuming sugar, and artificial food additives that have been tested on animals.
They don’t contain any ingredients directly derived from animals. However, the sugar has been filtered through bone char.