Are Tootsie Rolls vegan? Don’t worry, there are many alternatives

are Tootsie Rolls vegan?

Tootsie Rolls can easily be called everyone’s favourite candy from childhood. These nostalgic taffy-like candies started being manufactured in the US around 1907 and it is popularly known how they were once amongst the first candies in America to be individually wrapped. Most of us grew up eating Tootsie Rolls, but are Tootsie Rolls vegan? 

Probably not. 

Tasting like both taffy and caramel, quite a number of animal based ingredients make up the proportions of this apparently simple oldie. The presence of milk based products makes it clearly non vegan. Tootsie Rolls amongst its derivative candies like Tootsie Fruit Rolls and Tootsie Pops are not vegan. 

This doesn’t mean you do not get to eat Tootsie Rolls. There are numerous vegan options that taste just the same while being vegan friendly.

There are several problematic ingredients in Tootsie Rolls in the US: sugar, palm oil, condensed skim milk, whey, artificial and natural flavours. Tootsie fruit rolls contain malic acid and artificial colors like F, D, and C Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 1 in addition. 

Tootsie Roll

Condensed Skim Milk being a milk based product is not vegan

Condensed milk is basically evaporated cow milk in which the water is removed. The popularly presented sweetened condensed milk is fundamentally just condensed milk with some added sugar. It is possible to use either term for either one of these although they are slightly different. 

So are Tootsie Rolls vegan if they contain condensed skim milk? The sweetened condensed milk used in food production comprises 28% milk solids and 8% milk fat in which 15% sugar or dextrose is additionally added. 

This high concentration of sugar makes condensed skim milk perfect for utilization in making desserts like cheesecake, candies, and pies. Chocolate manufacturers consider this an ideal for good quality chocolate preparation. 

No wonder it is essentially used in the preparation of Tootsie Rolls. If you’ve noticed, Tootsie Rolls do not have additional artificial coloration as their characteristic brown color is achieved by Maillard reaction. The added sugar and the lactose combine with milk proteins at a high temperature to impart a dark brown coloration to the candy. 

This process of obtaining the peculiar brown color of these candies is one reason why it is not easy to find vegan taffys and caramels.

Whey is totally out of the vegan way

The producers of your favourite candy add whey and casein in them to enhance their texture and soften their feel when you bite and indulge. It is not uncommon to find milk and milk derivatives in food products. One must always be on a lookout at the back of the package and the bottom as well as within the several uncommon ingredient names. 

Addition of whey is also a cheap method of enhancing the nutritional value of food products. It is tiring for a vegan to find these ingredients in every other product that could have easily been made vegan with vegan substitutes. Whey is not the only ingredient that disqualifies Tootsie Rolls from the vegan walk of fame. There are several ethically challenging products employed to make simple harmless looking candies.

You should be aware of the dangerous unethical cultivation of palms for producing the very popular palm oil

Amongst the many other non vegan constituents of Tootsie Rolls stands palm oil. Technically, palm oil is derived from plants and is supposed to be a plant based product. This is true. But the horrible consequence of the reckless and vast cultivation of palm oil poses many dangerous environmental, ethical, social challenges and impacts. 

The worst affected are the rainforest habitats which have been entirely uprooted for these plantations. This has severely endangered the survival of many wild animals who find it extremely difficult to find food and shelter amidst rapidly blooming capitalism. Many many well known species of animals are numbering less and less day by day. They have literally made animals homeless by rapidly overtaking their generational grooves and homes in the heart of the forest.

Not only this, the fast and rapid deforestation has led to an unprecedented high rise in global warming. These plantations dry out to fill their underlying soil with a product called peat. Peat accumulation in the soil is responsible for the release of very large amounts of greenhouse gas methane. Methane is twenty three times more dangerous and responsible than carbon dioxide in the rising global temperature. There is more to palm oil than just oil. It is an unethical and hazardous choice for the sustainability of mankind. 

White sugar may not be considered vegan by some

It is known that the cane derived naturally brown sugar is filtered using bone char to produce the filtered pristine white sugar we find in the market. 

Bone char is a product obtained by heating the bones of animals at a very high temperature so they convert into carbon and attain highly absorptive abilities.

You may not choose this variety of sugar for yourself. But the manufacturers commonly add this filtered sugar to many common food products and probably in Tootsie Rolls too. 

There are, without doubt, alternatives to white sugar which include the natural white sugar derived from coconut and beet. Some mills are reported to use granular activated charcoal in the process of filtering sugar as a replacement for bone char. So you cannot be sure how to classify the presence of sugar in food products.

The Tootsie Rolls candies do not contain artificial colors but Tootsie Fruit Rolls contain artificial colors like F, D, and C Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 1. 

Unethical and corrupt animal testing discourages the consumption of artificial colors by vegans

Red 4 food coloring agent is non vegan and is derived from beetles. Red 40, on the other hand, is derived from petroleum or even strawberries. A large number of artificial colours are obtained from animal sources, also from insect secretions and crushed bodies of insects. The animal source of these substances is not the only thing to worry about.

The use and consumption of artificial food colors poses serious health risks. It has been established that artificial colours are amongst the prominent causative agents of cancer. They have also been traced in the etiology of ADHD in children.

Food coloring agents require trials and testing on animals from time to time. Thousands of innocent animals are mercilessly killed in testing these substances. Any disease or malfunction created in the animal due to the agent is not cured and the animals are disposed of after the trials are done. It is not uncommon for these animals to die due to the toxicity of these products. Mice, monkeys, dogs, rabbits have to go through tough ordeals to prove the safety of these substances in humans.

Mono and Di-glycerides in Tootsie Rolls could be or could not be vegan

Tootsie Rolls contain mono and di-glycerides which are obtained by reacting triglycerides with glycerol and are usually totally vegan friendly. It is just not known where the triglyceride precursors are obtained from, which creates suspicion of animal derivation.

This suspicion is a problem for strict vegans but it is not yet proven if these ingredients have any relation to animal sources. It is rare for manufacturers to list the sources of these ingredients because taffys and caramels aren’t essentially a healthy food item.

Although, PETA’s website lists them in animal derived products. 

Don’t you worry. This is a big world and it is entirely possible to find similar or even better options for vegans than Tootsie Rolls. 

Manhattan chocolates dark chocolate leather bar

This delicious chocolate snack is meant to satisfy your cravings for chocolate while imparting very less calories. The crunchy rice brown texture of this delicious bar is complemented by nibbles of cocoa and chewy sweet chocolate. This is not just an alternative, it is way better.

Laffy Taffy chocolate candy

Laffy Taffy chocolate candy does contain palm oil as an ingredient but hardly any other. You’ll find the chocolate flavour in packs that contain both chocolate and strawberry flavoured candies.

To conclude, Tootsie Rolls are not vegan.

You have had abundant Tootsie Rolls as a kid, probably your grandfather also did. It is good to see that times have changed and we have begun making tough choices way out of our comfort zone just in order to heal the planet.

No wonder there is a phase in adult life, especially with children, when we begin trying out our old beloved candies again. We promise that the substitute products we have mentioned could replace Tootsie Rolls at your home. Dairy is amongst the prominent non vegan food items which should not be included in a vegan’s diet. Added to that, the numerous other additives make it impossible to consider Tootsie Rolls even slightly vegan. Try and indulge in other vegan options if you have to. You will not be disappointed.