As per other people’s preconceived idea that plant-based eaters only gobble up veggies and fruits, they tend to think that vegans are desperately obsessed with all the healthy, no-junk, and organic foods. Though for some vegans there is a shred of truth to that, this doesn’t mean that vegans can’t enjoy the sweet, little things found by the convenience store cashier.
Lollipops are originally made with sugar and water heated until a viscous, amorphous solid is made, then mixed with flavoring, and cooled to make the hard candy.
Today, there are more than a few hundred flavors from different brands, and thus each recipe comes with a few new additives, giving way to the existence of non-vegan flavors.
What Are They Commonly Made Of?
There are a lot of lollipop brands, each with its own set of flavors and ingredients that may slightly vary from one another, but since most lollipops are already vegan, this article is meant to explain the vegan-friendliness of general lollipops without getting too deep into the brands and exclusive flavors. We will also go through the most-controversial ingredients linked to lollipops that are concerning for both vegans and commoners.
White sugar is the most commonly used type in making confectionary. This is because white sugar is usually very fine, easily manageable, and temperately sweet, making it the ideal sugar to create various candies. Most white sugar is processed from sugar cane, rarer ones are from beets. This sugar is originally vegan, but may not always be vegan-friendly due to its processing.
Most refined white sugar achieves its clear, white colorization due to bone char filtration. Bone char is ash achieved by burning down the bones of slaughtered cattle. Due to this, a strict vegan would usually have to purchase organic white sugar that isn’t filtered by bone char.
However, even if we can escape the use of common table sugars and resort to cleaner versions, the daunting predicament is that most candy and lollipop manufacturers tend to use common white sugar that is probably processed via bone char filtration. The good news is there are vegan lollipops that don’t.
Yum Earth prides itself in its 100% organic, allergen-free suckers that contain the simplest ingredients for example:
- Organic cane sugar
- Organic brown rice syrup
- Citric acid
- Ascorbic acid
- Natural flavors
- Organic concentrate colors (carrot, apple, blackcurrant, radish)
- Turmeric (for color)
Organic cane sugar is always vegan-friendly and doesn’t use bone char due to the heavy regulation imputed by the USDA on bone char. However, since the ingredient and processes are only regulated, the possibility of a tiny spectrum using bone char is not absolute zero.
Depending on your level of veganism, this may or may not be a pressing concern, but PETA gives us insight that we shouldn’t be too hooked up on products that are 99.9% vegan as long as we do the best we could in our part in saving the planet.
Lollipop brands use different syrups based on their preferences, uniqueness, and innovations. A syrup is basically what adds extra sweetness and binds the candy together. The most common syrup used in lollipops is corn syrup or glucose syrup, but others include brown rice syrup, maltitol syrup, or isomaltose syrup.
To help you out, here’s a quick list of vegan-friendly lollipops and which syrups they contain:
- Yum Earth Organic Lollipops – organic brown rice syrup
- Juicy Pops Organic Lollipops – organic brown rice syrup
- Lovely Organic Lollipops -organic brown rice syrup
- Zollipops Clean Teeth Pops – isomaltose syrup
- Chupa Chups Original Lollipops – glucose corn syrup
- Chupa Chups Sugar-Free Lollipops – isomaltose and maltitol syrup
- Dum Dums Lollipops – corn syrup
- Charms Lollipops – corn syrup
- Jolly Rancher Lollipops – corn syrup
On a safe note, organic brown rice syrup is not the healthiest substitute to high fructose corn syrup nor other glucose syrups, it’s still a sugar carbohydrate that has little to no benefits. Consuming too much of this sugar just because it’s “organic” won’t do you any good either, and would only lead to relatable consequences as overconsumption of high glucose syrups; diabetes, and heart diseases to say the least. It’s best to keep all types of sugars in moderation. Honey and stevia are better options as sweeteners in your sweet recipes or perhaps personalized recipes of lollipops.
Isomaltose is a sweetener derived from beets, a 100% sugar-free additive that is half the sweetness and calories of standard white sugar. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol naturally extracted from fruits and vegetables, but the body is slow to absorb this carbohydrate and it may cause bowel discomfort when taken excessively.
The most common acid that lollipops contain is citric acid, which is a substance predominantly derived from citrus fruits and possesses a tangy taste. Like other acids, citric acid is used as a pH and taste balancer in most candy and also a preservative. Citric acid doesn’t have any other nutritional benefits in candy, but natural citric acid found in fruits does have significant values to offer according to Healthline.
The other acids that are sometimes added into lollipops are malic, ascorbic, and lactic acids. Manufactured malic acids come from apples, but we also have them in our bodies as a vital catalyst in the Krebs energy cycle. Ascorbic acid is more commonly known as vitamin C that strengthens the immune system in fighting against bacterial infections. Finally, lactic acid is a byproduct of the fermentation of sugar carbs such as beetroot and sugar cane. Lactic acid isn’t always interchangeable with lactate since the latter always comes from dairy, in the food sense. Our bodies also produce lactic acid during oxygen-depriving physical activities as extra energy, but that’s on another article. In candies, lactic acid is used as a preservative and acidifier.
What Are The Non-Vegan Additives?
This is actually a very easy question since everything that is connected to milk in the ingredient list of a lollipop wrapper instantly makes it non-vegan. Caramel, vanilla, cream, and whey all scream milk in lollipops and therefore should be thoroughly avoided. If you see a lollipop flavor that says any of those stated above, it’s an immediate “no”.
A few good examples would be the Strawberry Cream and Raspberry Vanilla flavors from Chupa Chups which contain whey permeate and whole milk powder. Other good examples are the Caramel Apple Pops and Tootsie Pops which contain condensed milk.
More thumbs-down ingredients in common candies that you should be aware of are carmine red (red 4) from cochineal insects, and gelatin and glycerin, both of which can be derived from animal bones and skins. Chewy, gelatinous candies usually contain gelatin while soft, creamy candies contain glycerin. Obviously, deep red candies are prone to having carmine red ingredients. Always check the labels, perhaps you’re already an expert on that.
Glycerin isn’t always a big deal though since it can be derived from either plant or animal-based sources, and the only way we can know for sure is if the manufacturer indicates. Charms Blow Pops for example are lollipops that contain a soft, chewy gum inside the hard shell candy. They contain glycerin, don’t go yet! They are considered vegan thanks to the amazing article presented by PETA assuring vegans that they can still enjoy these gummy suckers. They may contain dairy and soy though due to cross-contamination with shared equipment.
What Other Candies Are Vegan?
However, to save you from all your worries, and thanks to PETA, again and again, we’ve listed a few great candies that would surely find their way into your vegan diet, as an indulgence of course.
- Atomic Fireballs
- Brach’s Root Bear Barrels
- Cry Baby
- Fun Dip
- Hubba Bubba
- Jolly Rancher Hard Candy
- Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
- Now & Later
- Pixy Stix
- Red Vines
- Surf Sweets Gummies
Wrapping things up, most lollipops out in the market are already vegan, and apparently, due to a few restrictions, I can’t simply go over all of the available brands and flavors out there. However, I do hope this quick article has done you good. Keep in mind that even though we can’t really be 100% sure all the time that the processed foods we eat are vegan-friendly, you don’t have to be depressed by that since just keeping your healthy vegan lifestyle already contributes largely to the care of the animals and our environment. We make a change in this world, one step at a time, one food at a time. Your personal discipline in what you take into your body ultimately depends on you, and these articles only serve as your guidelines.
Yummy and sweet candies will always be available to people of all diets and lifestyles, and so you shouldn’t hold back your sweet tooth when itching for a craving because you have a myriad of healthy, vegan choices before you. Be reminded though those sweets are still sweets no matter their ingredients and consuming too much of anything isn’t always best. Be sure to eat in moderation and always look into the food labels.
Finally, no matter which brand of lollipop you prefer as a vegan, go for it if you enjoy it that much. Whether they contain organic ingredients or not, it doesn’t really make much of a difference since they’re still candied carbohydrates and sugars. Eat what you enjoy, and enjoy what you eat.