There can be nothing more disappointing than getting to the final lick of your lollipop candy as a kid, and tasting the bland, plastic stick that you’d be throwing away. Lollipops were candies invented for consumers who wanted to eat something sweet while holding it up as they went.
This was envisioned by the inventor of Chupa Chups, Enric Bernat, when he wanted to introduce to people a dessert that they can enjoy as if “eating a sweet with a fork.” Today, many lollipop variants have been created such as those of different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, and some even made the treats more exciting.
Blow pops are lollipops that have chewable gum inside that you will find after you’ve licked off the hard, outer shell. This gum isn’t edible and mustn’t be swallowed since it’s usually indigestible too. So you simply spit it out once it loses flavor and texture.
Some blow pops have elastic gums that you can chew and blow into a plastic bubble. Other consumers would even place the chewed gum on one end of the hollow stick and blow from the other, creating a bubble through the stick.
Charms Blow Pops are vegan and approved by PETA. They’re a brand of blow pops with petroleum-based gum, glycerin, and coloring. However, while all of their flavors are artificial, they may contain traces of milk and soy due to shared processing equipment.
Charms Blow Pops are the original blow pops, early patented in 1969 and released in 1973, and were owned by the Charms Candy Company. In 1988, Charms was bought by Tootsie Roll Industries, and thus the latter company became the largest manufacturer of lollipops in the world.
Today, Charms have become synonymous with the hard-shelled candy with gum inside, the blow pops that continue to be a favorite among children and adults alike. Tootsie Charms also produce other confectionaries such as Charms Mini Pops, Charms Blow Pop Minis, Charms Sweet Pops, Charms Candy Sour Balls, Charms Sweet n’ Sour Pops, and Assorted Charms with the square-shaped candies.
Here, we will review the key ingredients of Charms Blow Pops, what vegans should be aware of, and what are other vegan varieties of lollipops. Your health should also be a primary concern when we’re talking about sweets, so we’ll get to that too.
Some of the ingredients listed on their website can be quite vague such as gum base, starch, and artificial flavors. Tootsie doesn’t give much detail about the ingredients of their Charms Blow Pops flavors either, so most of the reviews here will be based on what they’ve openly shared. If you have more concerns about their products, then contacting the manufacturers would be a good option.
Charms Blow Pops are free of nuts, gluten, and peanuts, but may contain soy and milk. They are kosher certified and considered vegan by PETA.
Sugar is the largest component of candies, including lollipops which are originally made with sugar and water. White sugar is mostly used in making confectionery, both from the factory and homemade. This is because this type of sugar has the ideal grind size and sweetness that gives hard candy their glossy, crystal structure and stickiness.
Although bleached white sugar may be processed from bone char, this practice is slowly dying out, thankfully, due to the continuous advancement of modern technology. On the other hand, beet sugar and raw cane sugar aren’t usually processed through bone char filtration. Other lollipop brands use organic sugars that are 100% vegan-friendly such as Yum Earth.
Also known as glucose syrup, corn syrup is derived from a type of corn starch called maize. Corn syrup mustn’t be confused with high fructose corn syrup which may be notorious for being many times sweeter than regular sugar or corn syrup. While corn syrup mostly contains glucose, HFCS had its glucose content converted into fructose, which is what gives food a sweeter and slightly fruity taste compared to other syrups.
Corn syrup is commonly used as a texturizer, flavor enhancer, thickener, and anti-crystallizing agent for sugars. In other words, corn syrup allows candies to maintain an ideal texture and flavor.
So while corn syrup is okay, you might want to think twice about high fructose corn syrup which evidence does show that it’s not good for you.
The ingredient gum base is a very broad scope, and since Tootsie hasn’t disclosed what’s in their gum base, we would have to assume that it’s petroleum-based. This means that their gum base may not be from plants since plant-derived gum bases are labeled guar, chicle, or spruce.
There isn’t much of a difference between petroleum- and plant-based gums since both of them are indigestible and so shouldn’t be swallowed. So whether a gum base is synthetic like plastic or plant-derived, they’re only meant for chewing and not eating.
Healthline suggests that chewing gums contain ingredients that are safe in trace consumption, and that the act of chewing gum may be beneficial for our mental and physical health.
Citric acid is an organic ingredient mainly derived from citrus fruits. In candy, it’s used as a pH balancer and flavor enhancer. This weak acid is what develops the tart taste of confectioneries. It also assists in the conversion of food into energy, which is why candies with citric acid were once included in military rations for an extra boost of energy.
Citric acid is also known to improve the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium in the human body.
The starch in Charms Blow Pops may arguably be corn starch, since corn starch is gluten-free and commonly used as a thickener, texturizer, and flavor enhancer, much like its product, corn syrup. Other starches such as potato, tapioca, and arrowroot may also be used and would perform identically.
Artificial flavors are substances that aren’t natural or naturally occurring within the mixture, and may have been isolated from other synthetic ingredients and later added into the mixture.
These flavors could be derived from anything except natural, flavor-inducing subjects such as fruits, vegetables, and animal-derived ingredients. They’re commonly made inside labs and are formulated to taste like the real thing.
Charms Blow Pops flavors include:
- Sour Apple
- Blue Razz Berry
- Cherry Ice
- Black Cherry
- What a Melon
- Kiwi Berry Blast
- Black Ice
- Tropical Berry
All of these flavors are artificial, most of them are produced using controlled mixtures of sugars, starches, and chemical esters.
Glycerin is a grey area substance in the products we use and eat today, and this is because glycerin can be derived from animal oils such as pig fat or vegetable oils. Glycerin was originally discovered from fossil fuels and was once sourced from petroleum, but today, most manufactured products use vegetable glycerin which is more accessible and sustainable than other forms of glycerin.
In the ingredients list of Charms Blow Pops, it’s unspecified whether vegetable glycerin is used or not, but according to PETA, Charms Blow Pops are vegan-friendly candies. Still, it’s the individual’s personal decision whether to avoid products containing unspecified glycerin or not.
Glycerin is a sweet-tasting liquid and is a sugar alcohol isolate of fatty acids. It’s commonly used as an emulsifier, sweetener, and moistener in confectionary and even cosmetic products. According to Healthline, glycerin may reduce constipation and boost hydration and athletic performance. Another reason why candies may be used as bite-sized energizers.
Unlike their artificial flavors, Tootsie specified the artificial colors infused into their candy, FD&C Red 40 and FD&C Blue 1. Red 40 mustn’t be confused with the notorious Red 4 which is derived from cochineal beetles. Red 40 is sourced from petroleum substances, while Blue 1 is derived from coal tar. Both of which are safe for human consumption.
A natural coloring derived from powdered turmeric and is a strong dye. People claim that turmeric helps even the colors mixed into candy and other products.
Butylated hydroxytoluene is an artificial food preservative. Due to their powerful antioxidant properties, they’re effective at helping candy and food last longer. It’s also used as a medicine for treating genital herpes and AIDS.
Are Charms Blow Pops Healthy?
Looking into the nutrition facts of Charms Blow Pops, 1 pop contains 70 cal and 17 g carbs, of which 13 g are total sugars. The candy is also rich in calcium worth 10% of the average person’s recommended daily intake.
While the product itself doesn’t contain any hazardous or unhealthy ingredients, it doesn’t contain many essential nutrients either. This is okay since blow pops are simply candied snacks that aren’t meant to provide any significant nourishment for our bodies. They’re made for the sake of pleasing your taste buds.
How many pops you eat each day entirely depends on you, but remember that the daily recommended intake of added sugars is only 100 to 150 cal, around 24 to 36 grams of sugar or up to 2 pops. There aren’t any significant nutritional benefits of eating added sugars every day, and the only known, possibly anecdotal benefits are:
- Pleases the sense of taste; a dessert or snack
- Help you stay active when you’re feeling tired or sleepy by licking, sucking, or chewing
- Gives a short energy boost or “sugar rush”
Other Vegan Candies
Lollipops that are clean, healthy, and 100% vegan include:
- Yum Earth Organic Lollipops – Non-GMO, allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan
- Juicy Pops Organic Lollipops – Nut-free, gluten-free, fat-free, vegan
- Lovely Organic Lollipops – HFCS-free, gluten-free, vegan, kosher
- Koochiko Organic Lollipops – Sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan
- Zollipops Clean Teeth Pops – With xylitol, vegan, keto
Charms Blow Pops by Tootsie are vegan and recommended by PETA, but you may take that statement with a pinch of salt. The pops may still contain traces of milk due to shared processing equipment, therefore, Charms Blow Pops are labeled “contains milk” because there’s no 100% guarantee that the candies are dairy-free.
Lollipops aren’t a necessary component of a healthy diet, but you don’t need to restrain yourself from taking a pop or two, especially if you prefer to stay active throughout the day while chewing on something sweet.
Blow pops and gums are fun candies too, but some of them may contain gelatin. Always check the labels.