Are Dots Vegan? Simple Sweet Treat To Try (2023)

First released by the Tootsie company in 1945, Dots quickly became one of the most popular brands of gumdrops in America. While gumdrops aren’t quite as popular as they used to be in the 1950s, they’re still sold in convenience stores and movie theaters around the country!

The real question you’re probably wondering, though, is, “Are Dots vegan?” 

Believe it or not, Dots are one of the most vegan-friendly candies on the market! They’re made using a relatively simple recipe that consists of sugar, corn syrup, starch, flavoring, and colors.

They don’t contain any gelatin, dairy, or other animal by-products. The only questionable additive is the refined sugar used to make them. 

The recipe for dots hasn’t changed much since the candy first hit the market over seventy years ago. Unlike most gummy-textured candies, Dots are also naturally vegan-friendly.

In today’s post, I’ll answer all of the most common questions about Dots, discuss the ingredients, and explain why ethical vegans may still be within their rights to question this old-fashioned candy. 

Can Vegans Eat Dots? 

Can Vegans Eat Dots

For the most part, Dots are considered vegan-friendly food! If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find that most vegan food blogs out there say, “Yes – Dots are vegan.” 

However, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you the full truth. 

While Dots don’t contain any direct animal products or by-products, they do contain refined white sugar. Now, you may be thinking, “What’s wrong with sugar? Doesn’t everybody eat sugar?” 

Sugar, by itself, is a plant-based sweetener that’s derived from sugarcane or beet juice. Unrefined, organic sugar is 100% vegan. However, refined white sugar is generally considered non-vegan. Don’t take my word for it either; PETA has an entire article devoted to it

In short, refined white sugar is filtered through animal bone char, which is how it goes from being a dark brown substance to a pure white substance.

Don’t ask me why most Americans prefer white sugar (it doesn’t even taste as good), but it’s what sugar refineries have been doing for hundreds of years. 

If you’re a regular dietary vegan, who just tries to avoid eating meat and dairy, then this probably isn’t a problem for you.

However, if you’re an ethical vegan who’s concerned about doing what’s best for the planet and avoiding any foods touched by the meat industry, then you’ll want to avoid Dots. 

Other than the sugar, though, Dots are vegan-friendly

Do Dots Have Gelatin In Them? 

Do Dots Have Gelatin In Them

Gelatin is an incredibly common food additive that’s found in everything from gummy bears to Pop-Tarts. It’s a tasteless powder that gives food a chewy, gum-like consistency. It’s also what turns water into pure Jell-O. There’s just one small problem: gelatin comes from animal fat

Once the slaughterhouse sells all of its meat, they’re left with bones, tendons, and other parts of the animal that they can’t sell. So, they make a big broth of it, boil it down, and then extract the refined gelatin as pure powdered animal fat. 

Thankfully, Dots are 100% gelatin-free. 

Just looking at the package, most people (including myself) would assume that they contained gelatin, due to the fact that they are, by definition, a “gummy” candy.

Pretty much every other popular gummy candy on the market contains gelatin, so I automatically assumed Dots did as well. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they’re made without the gelatin! 

Is There Dairy In Dots? 

The other day, my friend and I were at the movie theater and I bought a box of Dots to eat while I watched our movie. She looked at me a bit surprised and asked, “But Emma, don’t Dots have dairy in them?” 

The question caught me off-guard, so of course, I had to double-check the label. 

I’m not sure where the rumor that Dots have dairy started, but I can assure you that Dots are 100% dairy-free

That being said, there are a number of candies on the market that do contain unexpected dairy by-products, such as whey or sodium caseinate. So, it’s never safe to assume that any candy is dairy-free until you’ve had a chance to look at the ingredients. 

What Are Dots Made Out Of? Ingredients Listed

As promised, here’s a full breakdown of all of the ingredients in Dots. The same basic ingredients are used in all flavors of Dots, including the Original Dots, Tropical Dots, and Sour Dots.

The only difference between the varieties of Dots is the flavoring that’s used in them. Other than that, they’re all the same! 

Here’s the shortlist, straight from the Tootsie site

1) Corn Syrup

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is the number-one ingredient used to make Dots. Not only is it sweet and syrupy but it also contributes to the gooey, gummy-like texture and consistency of Dots.

Unlike white sugar, corn syrup is, without a doubt, 100% vegan. It’s a simple syrup that’s extracted from the natural sugars found in corn. 

It may not be the healthiest, but it is plant-based! 

2) Sugar


Refined white sugar is the second main ingredient in Dots. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the only questionable ingredient used in the candy. Dietary vegans shouldn’t have any problems with white sugar.

However, ethical vegans may want to avoid the candy, as white sugar is refined through animal bone char. 

3) Modified Food Starch

Modified Food Starch

Modified food starch is a type of chemically-altered starch that starts off as traditional corn, potato, or rice starch. The main purpose of food starch in candy is to act as a gelling agent. In simple terms, it takes what would otherwise be a lump of sugary goo and turns it into a hard gummy. 

Some companies use gelatin for this same reason. However, I appreciate that Dots uses vegan-friendly food starch instead. 

4) Malic Acid

Malic acid is a natural acid that’s found in fruits, such as grapes and berries. It’s responsible for that slightly sour taste that you get on the tip of your tongue after eating fresh fruit or fruit that isn’t quite ripe yet. That being said, malic acid is 100% vegan! 

In the case of candy, malic acid is used to boost the fruity artificial flavors. Extra malic acid is added to the Sour Dots in order to give it a more tart flavor profile. 

5) Natural & Artificial Flavors

Artificial Food Coloring 

The Original Dots come in four flavors:

  • Orange (orange Dots)
  • Lime (green Dots)
  • Cherry (red Dots)
  • Lemon (yellow Dots)

Tootsie uses a variety of different natural and artificial flavors to give the gumdrops their unique flavor profile. These flavors, combined with the natural malic acid make for a fruity gumdrop that tastes better than the competition! 

6) Sodium Citrate

Sodium citrate is the dry form of citric acid, a natural acid derived from citrus plants. This chemical is used as a natural preservative, as it changes the pH of the candy to prevent bacteria from being able to eat the sugary candy.

7) Artificial Colors

Artificial Flavoring

Last but not least, Dots are made using artificial colors such as red 40, yellow 5, and blue 1. These are all vegan-friendly colorings that are made without any bugs or other animal extracts! 

Are Sour Dots Vegan? 

Yes, Sour Dots are vegan as well! They’re just made with different flavors. 

Are Tropical Dots Vegan? 

Yes, Tropical Dots are also vegan. Like Sour Dots, they’re made using different flavors and colors, all of which are 100% vegan-friendly and not from animals. 

Conclusion – Are Dots Vegan-Friendly? 

Are Dots Vegan-Friendly

As long as you don’t mind consuming a bit of white sugar, then Dots can be considered a vegan-friendly treat! Other than the questionable white sugar, all of the other ingredients are plant-based or artificial, which makes it perfectly safe for dietary vegans to eat. 

This makes them similar to Gushers, another popular semi-vegan candy. To get the low-down on Gushers, be sure to check out my latest post answering, “Are Gushers Vegan?” next

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

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