Jolly Ranchers are mostly defined by its assortment of bold flavors. The original flavors were watermelon, apple and blue raspberry. Soon after that they added cherry, orange tangerine, lemon, grape, peach, black licorice, and sour apple.
Over the years they continued to successfully launch a wide range of variations for everyone to enjoy such as the Jolly Rancher Lollipop, the Jolly Rancher Chews and the Jolly Rancher jelly Beans.
Now being vegan and having a sweet tooth for candy specifically can be a hard aspect to navigate as your choices tend to become slim when changing to or following a plant based diet. Most candy contains animal products such as dairy for chocolate and gelatin for chewy candy. But if you search hard enough, there are the odd and what we in the vegan community like to call “accidentally vegan” products that exist out there for us to indulge in and enjoy.
When you first glance at the ingredients list on the back of a Jolly Rancher wrapper or packet you will find that there are no animal products highlighted in bold. So at first glance, the Jolly Rancher is in fact one of those accidentally vegan products, right? Well some plant based eaters may disagree with you on that.
In the vegan community there are a list of products that have been debated on for years on whether or not they are classed as vegan or non vegan. This is due to either the way the product is processed and manufactured or whether it is tested on animals before being classed as safe to release to the general public.
Here is the whole list of the basic ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, malic acid, contains 2% or less of: sodium lactate, natural and artificial flavor, artificial color (red 40, yellow 4, blue 1, yellow 6), sulfur dioxide, to maintain freshness, soy lecithin, BHT, to maintain freshness.
Are Jolly Ranchers vegan? Just like in the case of Sour Patch Kids, the answer is not that simple. Let’s talk about a couple controversial vegan ingredients. First off is a big one:
How vegan is Sugar?
Some class processed sugar as a non vegan product because of the processing method that is used. There is a filtration step that is followed using bone char to bring out the strong white color we are so used to seeing. Sugars such as demerara, muscovado and non-white golden caster sugar all skip the filtration process which makes them vegan-friendly options when it comes to baking and cooking.
The Vegan issue with Artificial Colorants
Most natural food coloring is vegan as they are plant derived But the most commonly used colorants in foods are artificial. There is of course the obvious non vegan dye called carmine which is made from bugs but aside from that, because these colorants have shown to produce many bad side effects they have in the past and continue to be tested on animals before being released to us to consume.
There is also the subject of lecithin which is listed as an ingredient for the Jolly Rancher. Lecithin is produced by the soybean plant but is another controversial product as it can sometimes be derived from animal products if not stated as coming from soy.
If all this information is new to you and you’re an avid candy eater you may be asking yourself if other Jolly rancher products outside of the hard candy range are vegan too, like are chewy Jolly Ranchers vegan? Are the jelly beans? How about the lollipops?
But even if you put the controversial ingredients list aside, the other aspect to consider to help conclude your opinion on whether this beloved hard candy is vegan is that the parent company of Jolly Ranchers (Hershey’s) has stated after much speculation from the vegan community that Jolly Ranchers are not vegan. They state that they cannot guarantee that one of the natural flavor ingredients that is supplied by a third party is not suitable for a vegan diet therefore they cannot be 100% sure if all Jolly Ranchers are vegan.
So are Jolly Ranchers Vegan?
The answer is that some (not all) of them are considered to be vegan but only if you are willing to look over the controversial ingredients, then yes you can continue to enjoy America’s favorite hard candy. Otherwise, maybe you should take a look at some truly vegan Candy Cane brands.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are a strict-vegan, Jolly Ranchers are not vegan. If you turn a blind eye to controversial ingredients (such as Blue 1) then you can indulge in a bit of Jolly Rancher goodness.
Unfortunately not. The Jolly Ranchers gummies contain gelatin which is made from animal bones and also dairy milk. This also applies to the Jolly Rancher Crunch.
Although the blue Jolly Ranchers contain blue 1 artificial colorants which are entirely made without any animal products, it is continuously tested on animals in the labs to ensure no side effects occur in humans. So it is vegan, but not cruelty-free.
If you follow a strict vegan diet and want to avoid consuming the controversial ingredients (like Blue 1, that is tested on animals) Blue Raspberry Jolly Ranchers aren’t for you. They are vegan, but not cruelty-free.
Even though Cherry Jolly Ranchers don’t contain any animal by-product, their official website states that Jolly Ranchers in general are not vegan.
Even though Cinnamon Jolly Ranchers don’t contain animal by-products, the official website states that Jolly Ranchers in general are not vegan. We would advise for strict-vegans to steer clear of this candy.
The original hard candy Jolly Ranchers are considered vegan if you don’t follow a strict vegan diet and class ingredients like refined sugar, artificial colorants as non vegan.
The company cannot guarantee the candy’s processing meets certified vegan standards. But because they are not animal based, some consider them vegan – friendly.