Apple Jacks used to be one of my favorite cereal brands as a kid. They’ve been around for quite some time and are one of the only cinnamon-apple flavored cereals on the market. To me, they always tasted like a cereal version of apple pie. Sweet, crispy, crunchy, and tastefully seasoned.
Are Apple Jacks vegan, though?
Unfortunately, Apple Jacks are NOT vegan. Although they’re made with real apples and fruit juice, the cereal also contains several non-vegan ingredients. The main culprits are white sugar and vitamin D3, which come from sheep’s wool.
The presence of these non-vegan ingredients sadly means that the entire cereal is non-vegan. Below, I’ll give you a full breakdown of all of the ingredients, so you can see for yourself. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Can Vegans Eat Apple Jacks Cereal?
Apple Jacks were first introduced to Americans in 1965 by Kellogg’s, the leading cereal brand in America. At first, they were called “Apple O’s.” This name didn’t really get the cereal a lot of attention, though, so they were renamed “Apple Jax” in 1971, which was later revised into “Apple Jacks.”
There really isn’t another cereal on the market that even tastes remotely like Apple Jacks (aside from Apple Jacks knock-offs).
This is due to the blend of corn, oat, and wheat flour, along with real seasonings and real fruit. These ingredients, combined together, make for a very interesting breakfast cereal.
Sadly, vegans can’t eat Apple Jacks. Although the cereal is made with a number of plant-based ingredients, it also contains a couple of non-vegan ingredients as well.
Which Cereals Are Vegan?
Finding a vegan-friendly cereal can be tough. Even though many kinds of cereal look vegan, most of the mainstream brands of cereals contain added vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, one of the most commonly added vitamins is vitamin D3. This vitamin happens to be one of the few non-vegan vitamins on the market.
Additionally, most mainstream cereal brands are made with white sugar, which isn’t vegan due to its refining process.
That being said, there are some vegan-friendly cereals out there!
The best place to find vegan cereal is on Amazon, where you’ll find a number of small locally-owned brands that are making simpler vegan-friendly versions of mainstream brands.
In fact, I’ve even seen some knock-off vegan Apple Jacks before! They’re vitamin D3-free and use natural cane sugar instead of processed white sugar.
Another great place to find vegan cereal is at Whole Foods Market.
Their signature 365 brand offers several great-tasting vegan bowls of cereal that don’t have half of the artificial additives and sweeteners that you’ll find in most mainstream cereals made by brands like Post, Kellogg’s, and General Mills.
For a full list of my favorite vegan breakfast cereals, keep reading here!
What Are Apple Jacks Made Of? Ingredients Revealed
Apple Jacks have a lot more ingredients than I initially expected. I’ve reviewed a bunch of different cereal brands, and so far none of them are quite as complex and complicated as the Apple Jacks recipe.
Maybe that’s why there are so few “knock-offs” of Apple Jacks! When you make something difficult enough to copy, you’ll have fewer copycats.
Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients in Apple Jacks, so you can see for yourself:
That’s a lot of ingredients, right?
I understand that many of these additives may be a bit complicated and hard to understand, especially if you’re new to reading ingredients labels. So, I decided that it would be helpful to give you a quick breakdown of each below!
1) Corn Flour Blend
Corn flour is the main type of flour used in Apple Jacks. They’re made with whole-grain yellow corn flour as well as the more processed degerminated yellow corn flour. Corn flour is a bit sweeter tasting than wheat flour, which is why it’s commonly used in breakfast cereal.
Corn flour is always a vegan-friendly baking ingredient, though, since it just comes from the ground and dried corn.
Sugar is the first problematic ingredient added to Apple Jacks. While sugar is generally considered a plant-based sweetener, it’s not quite that simple.
All white sugar starts off as raw cane sugar, which is an all-natural sugar that’s made from evaporated sugarcane juice. However, to turn this raw sugar into the more concentrated white sugar, it must first be filtered through bone char to remove the brown color and malt flavor.
Sadly, this process means that white sugar indirectly supports the meat industry, which is why most vegans choose to abstain from it.
3) Wheat Flour
Wheat flour is the most common type of flour used for bread and other snacks. Like corn flour, wheat flour is 100% vegan, since it’s just made from ground and dried fruit that comes from the wheatgrass plant.
4) Whole Grain Oat Flour
Whole grain oat flour is the third type of flour used in Apple Jacks. The combination of corn flour, wheat flour, and oat flour makes for a very interesting flavor and consistency.
This is why Apple Jacks taste like a strange cross between Cheerios and puffed corn cereals like Honeycomb.
Oat flour is vegan-friendly, just like the other two types of flour.
5) Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil serves as the primary fat that holds the Apple Jacks cereal mixture together. The fat provides added strength to the cereal dough and ensures that the cereal cooks evenly.
Apple Jacks are made with a combination of coconut oil, soybean oil, cottonseed, and canola oil. Thankfully, they don’t use any non-vegan palm oil!
Don’t get excited, though, because the cereal still isn’t vegan.
6) Oat Fiber
Just as oat flour is used, oat fiber is also used. This is the pure fiber that’s extracted from the oat grain. This not only helps to make the cereal crispier and denser but also adds to the fiber content of Apple Jacks. This, in turn, makes them better for your digestion!
Although you might not expect to see salt on this list, it’s there all the same. In fact, salt is added to almost every type of cereal, as it helps to create a thicker, stronger dough. Without salt, there would be a lot more crumbling, broken pieces of cereal in your box.
Salt is always vegan, so you never have to worry about this additive.
8) Corn Fiber
Corn fiber, like oat fiber, adds to the overall fiber content of the cereal, making it a “healthier” option. Many breakfast kinds of cereal contain added fiber since many doctors recommend eating fiber in the morning to jump-start your digestive system and get your metabolism rolling!
9) Yellow Corn Flour
In addition to the corn flour blend used in the main cereal dough, a bit of yellow corn flour is also dusted on the outside of the cereal to give it a crispier, softer, and smoother texture.
10) Apple Juice Concentrate
One of the things that I always loved about Apple Jacks as a kid was that they tasted like real apples. This is because they’re made with real apple juice!
11) Corn Starch
Corn starch is a common food additive that’s added to a number of different cereals and snacks. It’s a more processed version of corn flour and only consists of the pure starch found within corn kernels.
It’s not very healthy, but it is completely plant-based, so it’s acceptable for vegans.
12) Dried Apples
Thought the apples in Apple Jacks ended with apple juice? Think again. Apple Jacks are also made with real slices of dried apples. If you look closely at the cereal, you can see the little chunks of apple on the surface!
Cinnamon is the main seasoning used in Apple Jacks because apples and cinnamon are a combination that dates back a long time.
14) Baking Soda
Baking soda is added to the cereal mixture to give the cereal a puffed, crispy texture and consistency. Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, which is a natural compound that’s 100% vegan.
15) Natural & Artificial Colors
Apple Jacks are colored with both natural and artificial colors. The only natural color is turmeric, which is known for its bright orange color and is used to color the orange Apple Jacks.
The other artificial colors used include red 40, blue 1, and yellow 6.
16) BHT Preservative
BHT is a chemical preservative that’s added to most of Kellogg’s cereals to extend the shelf life of the cereal.
17) Added Vitamins & Minerals
Like most other Kellogg’s cereals, Apple Jacks features an added blend of vitamins and minerals. While most of the vitamins and minerals in the cereal are healthy and vegan-friendly, vitamin D3 is not.
This vitamin is extracted from sheep’s wool, which is an exploitative and often cruel industry. As a result, vegans don’t eat any cereals that contain D3.
Are Apple Jacks Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately, Apple Jacks are NOT gluten-free. They contain wheat flour and oat flour, both of which contain the protein known as gluten. When consumed by gluten-sensitive individuals, gluten can cause severe allergic reactions.
The Verdict – Are Apple Jacks Vegan-Friendly?
While Apple Jacks may be made with mostly plant-based ingredients, the cereal is not vegan due to vitamin D3 and white sugar. Thankfully there are a number of other vegan-friendly breakfast cereals to choose from at your local health foods store or online at Amazon.
If you’re looking for a great breakfast option, I suggest taking a look at vegan eggs. They’re healthy, delicious, and packed full of plant-based protein! Check out my opinion and review of plant-based eggs next.