Answer: No. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not considered a vegan product because of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12.
With Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the internet has a mind of its own. Let me also share my two cents on this.
It’s a love affair that with this food rings a lot of nostalgia for many people here in the United States. It is a delicious cereal with a strong cinnamon aroma and is somehow not overpowering, which hits your taste buds just right.
The childhood memories associated with this breakfast cereal are still unforgettable for many people, including me. It has a considerable consumer base even now, making it the fifth best-selling cereal in the United States. Decade after decade, Americans have savored Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and it continues to be the favorite for many upcoming millennials even after all these years.
Let’s continue to know more about this nostalgic flavor that has captivated Americans for so many decades.
What Is A Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch is typically a square-shaped breakfast cereal coated in cinnamon flavor. Cinnamon Toast Crunch contains wheat and rice. It is covered with cinnamon and sugar to make the taste complete; no wonder it has shot to fame since its release.
A Brief History of Cinnamon Toast Crunch
The history of how breakfast cereal went mainstream is a contribution of science and marketing. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a breakfast cereal created by General Mills company and Nestle. The grain first debuted in 1984.
The original version debuted as a plane square without any cinnamon swirls. The cinnamon swirl pattern was later added to the squares. The cereal is well-known for its taste replicates the flavor of cinnamon sugar toast and the ever-prominent square visual look of the product. It appealed to the people with its unique design, quite unlike those days.
The cereal has initially been an invention of Elisabeth Trach, the then-product manager of General Mills. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch is also known for its chubby animated mascot Chef Wendell, also known as the Cinnamon Toast Baker. The mascot of the brand initially included the famous and most recognized animated three bakers.
Initially, the brand didn’t have any slogan; its official motto came out in 1995 with “The taste you can see.” In 2007, it was “It’s That Intense.” Finally, in 2009, the slogan became “Crave those crazy squares”, which has stuck on until today.
The mascots first appeared in telemarketing advertisements and slowly made their way to the product boxes due to customers’ demands. The mascot is still very much a part of what the brand is remembered for by its customers.
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch goes by a different name in many countries, Croque-Cannelle in French Canada and Curiously Cinnamon in the UK (previously Cinnamon Grahams), and Cini Minis in Latin American countries.
A great breakfast cereal ought to taste amazing, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch does just that. It has created a niche for itself in this cereal industry with no fancy ingredients.
What Makes the Cinnamon Toast Crunch So Irresistible?
I’ll get the basics correct from the start. What is Cinnamon? Cinnamon is a spice derived from the dried inner bark of the tree species Cinnamomum. The cinnamon taste is mainly used as an aromatic and flavoring substance in food products. It is well known for its blood-sugar-lowering properties and powerful anti-diabetic effect; undoubtedly, it is the second most popular spice in the United States.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ingredients:
It is no surprise that there’s a lot of conflicting information regarding cereal and its vegan status. Cinnamon Toast Crunch claims to be a vegan product, while others say it is not. In such a situation, the best solution is to have a look at the ingredients and determine for me whether the product is vegan or not.
A complete list of the ingredients is below:
- Whole Grain Wheat
- Rice Flour
- Caramel Color
- Soy Lecithin
- Canola Oil
- BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a preservative
- Trisodium Phosphate
Minerals & Vitamins:
- A B Vitamin (folic acid)
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate)
- Iron and Zinc (nutrients)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)
- A B Vitamin (niacinamide)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin A (palmitate)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate)
- Calcium Carbonate
Make sure to understand more complex ingredients for further clarity:
- Maltodextrin is a food additive. We obtain it from vegetable starch with the help of partial hydrolysis. Maltodextrin is digestible as glucose and may be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless.
- Trisodium Phosphate is an inorganic compound used in food products as an additive. The trisodium phosphate levels are deficient in this product. High trisodium phosphate levels may cause heart conditions, intestinal inflammation, kidney disease, and decreased bone density.
- Canola oil is made from crushed canola seeds. It contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Dextrose is the name of simple sugar that comes from corn. We use it in baking products as a sweetener.
- Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple ketonic monosaccharide found in many plants, fruit juices, certain vegetables, and honey.
- What is Soy Lecithin? Lecithin is a food additive that comes from several sources, one of them being soy. It’s generally used as an emulsifier or lubricant when added to food.
- Caramel color is a water-soluble food coloring. It comes from natural sources (sugar or corn).
- BHT is a lab-made chemical that serves as a preservative.
- Calcium Carbonate is an inorganic salt authorized as a food additive.
- Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate) is a water-soluble vitamin, a food antioxidant, and a flour treatment agent. Adequate Vitamin C sources include citrus, red and green peppers, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in many foods. We obtain it from potatoes and other starchy vegetables and fruit.
- Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is a vitamin found in food and used as a dietary supplement. Sources include eggs, green vegetables, milk, other dairy product, meat, mushrooms, and almonds.
- Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is a vitamin found in food and manufactured as a dietary supplement and medication.
- Vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal products, including poultry, fish, milk, eggs, meat, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods.
At first glance of the ingredients, it may seem like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal is a 100 % vegan product, as there is no non-vegan source. There is nothing that stands out as blatantly non-vegan such as milk or dairy, or eggs—none of the usually non-vegan red flags such as whey and casein, and no allergy statement.
However, there is this popular misconception that Cinnamon Toast Crunch contains milk. Although, the company General Mills had clarified that there are no milk-based products in their ingredients.
Ultimately, is Cinnamon Toast Crunch vegan? And the answer to that is, unfortunately, no.
Why Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Not Considered Vegan?
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not considered a vegan product because of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 in its list of ingredients.
I understand it’s a bit perplexing and confusing, so let me explain. In this case, the reason lies in Vitamin D3 that’s added to the cereal. You must be wondering how something like Vitamin C comes from an animal source or by-product.
If you aren’t aware, we derive Vitamin D3 from lanolin, a greasy substance, and a by-product of sheep’s wool. Cinnamon Toast Crunch uses Vitamin D3 as a fortification additive, which is where our connection with vegan-friendly products gets tangled.
The best sources of Vitamin D3 are the flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oil; smaller amounts are present in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.
Since there is Vitamin D3 in Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the verdict is that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not vegan.
However, there are many grey areas to ponder upon. Vitamin B12, which is also on the ingredient list, is also very controversial, to begin with. It is generally not found in plant foods, and it is common in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other milk products. It leaves a lot of room for consideration.
However, Vitamin B12 is highly available in fortified foods, and cereals are one of them.
Lack of detailed labeling and proprietary restrictions shield crucial information about obtaining certain ingredients from different products. Until then, we’ll have to settle for what we see and know about them.
Is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Healthy?
It is not the healthiest food globally and partly because of its somewhat high sugar content, which many customers had flagged as a warning. Food experts have also expressed their reservations about BHT, a preservative in Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Its highly controversial nature and limited research exist on whether it is harmful to the human body.
In case you’re wondering about other cereals being vegan in the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Family. I have listed the products below, and none of the product lineups is vegan-friendly.
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros
- Blueberry Toast Crunch
- French Toast Crunch
- Strawberry Toast Crunch
- Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch (also contains lactose)
- Chocolate Cinnamon Toast Crunch
All these products from General Mills have a common-based ingredient, so it does not automatically qualify to be vegan.
Most Common Non-vegan Ingredients in Cereals:
During my research, I have identified the most common non–vegan ingredients in cereal as the following:
- Milk Products
- Marshmallows (containing gelatin)
- Vitamin D3 s
- The gelatin on its own (such as in Frosted Mini-Wheats)
If the ingredient statement doesn’t contain anything on the list above, they’re most likely vegan.
If a product is not vegan-friendly, then there are options to supplement it. However, the availability of such products many at times depends on region and location.
What Are The Alternatives?
There are a lot of cereal products that are better alternatives than Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I have personally tried out many of these vegan-friendly products myself.
Keeping the alternative in mind, I have put together a list of cereals that are 100% vegan:
- Barbara’s Original Puffins
- Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries
- Kashi Organic Island Vanilla
- Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins
- Nature’s Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise
- Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch
- Nature’s Path Rice Puffs
- Barbara’s Organic Corn Flakes
- Quaker Original Life
- Cap’n Crunch
There is no doubt that people at large aren’t going to stop buying Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the coming years. With the cereal meal industry expected to grow more profitable in the coming years, this product will be available on the shelves for a long time to come. Many spin-offs are indeed hitting the shelves across the US.
As more people go green and prefer organic substances in their diet, companies will have to shift their production strategies towards nature-based products. You never know, there might be a complete vegan-friendly label of this product from General Mills shortly.
As for now, it remains a back-off product for vegans. However, vegan or not, people have begun to consider the ingredients that go into producing these cereals seriously. And as more people become health-conscious, reception towards these products may change, ultimately reflecting how companies do business with their products.