Are Jolly Rancher Vegan? the Answer Is Not What You Expect

Are Jolly Rancher Vegan?

Jolly Rancher has time and again proven to be our favorite American candy brand. Owned by Hershey’s, Jolly Rancher produces hard candy, lollipops, jelly beans, bites, chews, and gummies. Their tangy and juicy taste is nowhere else to be found, but are Jolly Rancher vegan? 

The parent company Hershey’s does not certify that Jolly Rancher are vegan. But we have found numerous clues to suggest otherwise. Some of the Jolly Rancher candies have no non-vegan ingredients. It is speculated that they are undoubtedly vegan. 

Can Vegans eat Jolly Ranchers?

The answer is not as simple as a yes or no. Some vegans consume Jolly Ranchers while others avoid them because of the processed sugar, artificial colors, and natural flavors. However, not all Jolly Rancher bites, chews, and gummies are vegan as some contain gelatin.

If Jolly Rancher ingredients are vegan, where do the doubts arise? 

photo of lollipops

There is always enough room for doubt in veganism. However, there are valid controversial ingredients in Jolly Rancher. All varieties of Jolly Rancher candies, be it lollipops or hard candies, contain processed sugar, artificial colors, and natural flavors. These are controversial ingredients that strict vegans tend to avoid. 

It is important to note that not all Jolly Rancher bites, chews, and gummies are vegan. Some of them contain gelatin

Gelatin is a proteinaceous substance produced by boiling animal skin, bones, ligaments, and cartilage in water. These animal substances are derived from cows, pigs, and fish. 

Gelatin is the substance used to provide a chewy texture to common fruit-based candies. Many concerned producers now use plant-based pectin instead of gelatin for the same purpose. But not Jolly Rancher. 

Some Jolly Rancher soft candies contain gelatin 

  • Jolly Rancher Crunch ‘n Chew
  • Jolly Rancher Original soft candy
  • Jolly Rancher Filled Gummies Bites 
  • Jolly Rancher Gummies Original 

Vegans must be cautious and avoid gelatin containing Jolly Rancher. Apart from this, Jolly Rancher Sour Bites contain lactic acid as an ingredient. Lactic acid may have been derived from dairy milk. Because dairy consumption is forbidden in veganism, Jolly Rancher Sour Bites are not vegan. 

The ingredients in the other considerable vegan Jolly Rancher do not suggest any non-vegan additive or source. But of course, there are controversial ingredients in all of them that you might want to note. 

  • Jolly Rancher Hard Candy contains artificial sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1). The lecithin in these candies is said to be derived from soy but still remains controversial because of possible animal origin. 
Jolly Rancher Hard Candy
  • Jolly Rancher Lollipops contain processed sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6). Lecithin, again, is a controversial ingredient.
Jolly Rancher Lollipops
  • Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans also contain processed sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and artificial colors ( Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6). 
Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans
  • While some of the Jolly Rancher Bites, Chews, and Gummies are known to contain gelatin, some are definitely vegan. These are; Awesome Twosome Chews, Misfits- 2 in 1 Gummy Candies, and Soft Bites.  
Jolly Rancher Bites

Many vegans assume that all Jolly Rancher contain confectioner’s glaze. This is not true. Unlike most candies, confectioner’s glaze is absent in all varieties of Jolly Rancher.

Why are the controversial ingredients controversial? 

Jolly Rancher Nutritional Information

Processed sugar, artificial colors, and natural flavors are considered problematic in the vegan community for understandable reasons. 

Sugar is often processed using bone char

Vegans consider sugar a problematic ingredient and most of them avoid it. This is because sugar is oftentimes processed using bone char in factories. More than half of sugar factories in North America use bone char to refine and filter sugar. 

Bone char is an absorptive carbon obtained after burning animal skulls and bones in combustion chambers. This particular cruelty laden process drives away vegans and makes them suspicious of all sugar.

Consumers all over the world desire pristine white sugar which isn’t the natural appearance of cane sugar. Original cane sugar is brown in coloration. Although organic unfiltered brown cane sugar is also available in the market, it is unknown which sugar goes into your factory-made food. It could be brown, it could be the one filtered by bone char. 

Manufacturers are never able to record which batch of sugar goes into which product because there are so many producers they acquire it from. 

It is also possible that the sugar in your Jolly Rancher candy was obtained from a producer that uses granular activated carbon instead of bone char. 

Maybe cane sugar is not present in your candy at all. Instead, there could be naturally white sugar derived from coconut or beetroot. The problem is, you never know which is which.

We personally recommend you to never worry about processed sugar in your food because it is impossible to track down the source. The sugar in your favorite Jolly Rancher candy might even be vegan. It probably is.

Natural flavors could be derived from animal sources too

The FDA has time and again specified that natural flavors can be obtained from both animal and plant-based sources. All flavors of Jolly Rancher suggest that they are possibly derived from fruits, but this is where things get tricky. 

Hershey’s has exclaimed that companies are only required to specify the possible allergens in their foods. The company was questioned by a customer about the vegan status of their products a few years ago. 

The company said that they cannot guarantee if a product is definitely vegan because they obtain their natural flavors from a third party and there is no way to find out if there is any animal origin. 

Many consumers speculate that the natural flavors in Jolly Rancher are probably vegan because of the fruitplant based taste. This confusion drives stricter vegans away from Jolly Rancher. 

All Jolly Rancher candies employ food colors 

Jolly Rancher Candies

Food coloring agents stand a tough ground in the vegan community. This is because they are often derived from animal sources. Vegans may be happy to know that there are no animal-derived food coloring agents in Jolly Rancher. Which means all food colorants in these candies are artificially made. 

The Red 40 used in Jolly Rancher is derived from petroleum. Vegans often confuse Red 40 with Red 4 which is derived from crushed insects. Red 4 or carminic acid is not only obtained after killing insects, it’s production also involves the use of egg white, fish glue, or even gelatin. 

Red 40, on the other hand, is derived from petroleum or strawberries and is completely vegan-friendly. It is a dark red azo dye commonly used in food products. Although, its use has been recently discouraged because of related health concerns. 

Another food colorant used in Jolly Rancher is Blue 1. This color is produced artificially in the laboratory and is commonly found in medications and cosmetics. Blue 1 has no animal-based source and is considered vegan. 

Just like Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are derived from petroleum. It was initially manufactured using coal tar but has since been produced from petroleum as well as strawberries. Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are used in a lot of edible and non-edible everyday products. 

There have been concerns regarding the health issues caused by these colorants which is why they have been banned in Austria and Norway. 

Artificial colors may be considered vegan owing to their source, but they aren’t cruelty-free. 

Artificial colors have been tested on animals for many generations. Scientists test the safety of these substances by administering them to animals in the lab and determining their safe dosage. This means, the animals are subjected to toxic doses that often result in their death. 

Animals like rabbits, rats, dogs, and even monkeys are periodically subjected to extreme pain owing to these tests. Most animals die from the adverse effects of these chemicals, the ones that survive with complications are killed. This procedure inevitably results in the death of a large number of innocent animals. 

It is ridiculous how humans would kill animals for the sake of a few colors in their meal. 

Jolly Rancher contain Soy Lecithin

PETA lists lecithin amongst animals-derived and potentially animal-derived ingredients. Lecithin is a product used in food substances for its emulsifying properties. 

While this is not a certainly non-vegan ingredient, Lecithin is definitely controversial. This is because it can be derived from animals unless specified otherwise. 

Jolly Rancher state that their lecithin is derived from soy, so their lecithin is probably vegan. 

So Are Jolly Rancher Vegan?

photo of cupcakes

All Jolly Rancher are not vegan. But most of them are. Jolly Rancher Hard Candy, Lollipops, and Jelly Beans are considered vegan. This is because they contain no animal-based ingredients. There are a few problematic ingredients in Jolly Rancher which some vegans choose to avoid. 

Processed sugar may or may not be filtered using bone char. Likewise, natural flavors may not even be derived from animal-based sources. We personally advise you to not refrain from the consumption of any food substance unless it is definitely vegan. 

This is because you’ll end up avoiding a lot of otherwise vegan foods while not making as much impact. Your avoidance of such minute ingredients will not hit the manufacturers hard the way your avoidance of meat, dairy, and the egg does. 

Avoiding Jolly Rancher for the sake of possible animal testing of the food colorants is yet understandable. The cruel practice of testing chemicals on innocent animals needs to stop.

Joe became a vegan after watching Cowspiracy. He always knew something was off with the way we consume animal products, but watching the documentary made him realized how bad it actually is. Joe is now making sure that every product he buys is 100% vegan!