Fruit Roll-Ups first hit store shelves in the early-80s, which means the 80s and 90s kids alike grew up with this awesome candy. I remember I used to love unrolling the long fruity-tasting strips of candy.
Something about it just felt more “fun” than eating a boring old candy bar! If you’re reading this post today, though, you’re probably wondering, “Are Fruit Roll-Ups vegan?”
Dietarily speaking, Fruit Roll-Ups can be considered vegan! They don’t contain any obvious animal products like gelatin or dairy and they’re also made with REAL fruit. However, Fruit Roll-Ups do contain white sugar and palm oil, two products that ethical vegans tend to avoid.
Simply put, if you’re a dietary vegan who just chose the diet for health reasons, then Fruit Roll-Ups don’t contain any animal-derived products that you should worry about.
On the other hand, if you take a more ethical standpoint on your diet, and don’t want to consume anything that even remotely involves animal cruelty, then you may find some fault with Fruit Roll-Ups.
In today’s post, I’ll explain the difference between these two viewpoints and why sugar and palm oil are such a hot-button issue in the vegan community. Then, I’ll break down all of the ingredients in Fruit Roll-Ups so you can see for yourself!
Do Fruit Roll-Ups Have Gelatin?
Gelatin is an incredibly common food additive that’s often added to candy or chewy-textured foods. For instance, it’s the main ingredient in gummy bears and is what makes them so chewy. It’s also the main ingredient in Jell-O, which is pretty much just flavored gelatin mixed with water.
It’s a fine tasteless powder that forces almost any liquid it touches to take on a gel-like consistency.
There’s just one problem… Gelatin is an animal by-product that comes from the bones of pigs and cows.
That’s right, gelatin is a substance that’s naturally found in the bone marrow and fluid of most mammals.
To get this fluid, slaughterhouses boil down old cow and pig bones into the fatty broth. Then, they extract the gelatin from the broth, refine it, purify it, and then put it in various food products.
Some of the most common foods that contain gelatin are:
- Fruit snacks
- Gummy bears & worms
- … and more!
All of that being said, Fruit Roll-Ups are 100% gelatin-free! This means they don’t contain any gelatin whatsoever.
Now you might think that’s a bit odd, considering that Fruit Roll-Ups have a rather chewy consistency.
In fact, I’ve been operating under the assumption that they do have gelatin and automatically assumed that they were non-vegan. So, I’m glad I sat down to do a little research and write this post!
Are Fruit Roll-Ups Made With Real Fruit?
Have you ever realized how it seems like kids eat more Fruit Roll-Ups than adults? Well, that’s because the brand’s main marketing point is that Fruit Roll-Ups are a “healthy” snack because they’re made with real fruit.
While I certainly appreciate that Fruit Roll-Ups are made with real fruit (which is rare these days), they’re still far from a “healthy” snack. They contain far more sugar and corn syrup than real fruit, and the real fruit that’s added is mostly for flavoring.
That being said, I’ve seen some really cool recipes online for homemade Fruit Roll-Ups that are made with mostly real fruit! Check this cool recipe out if you ever want to try it:
Is The Sugar In Fruit Roll-Ups Vegan?
Above, I mentioned that many vegans aren’t okay with consuming white sugar and try to actively avoid it. If you’re new to the vegan lifestyle, then you’re probably wondering what the big deal is all about.
Isn’t sugar a natural plant-based sweetener that comes from the sugarcane plant?
While all sugar starts off as a plant-based sweetener, it goes through a filtration and refining process that uses animal bone char. That’s how the sweet, malty raw cane sugar turns into fine white sugar crystals.
Refined white sugar is mostly preferred in place of raw cane sugar because it’s more concentrated (sweeter) and doesn’t have any malty flavors that could interfere with other flavors it’s paired with.
For instance, if Betty Crocker made Fruit Roll-Ups with cane sugar, they’d have a more syrupy, nutty flavor than most people have come to expect.
I get it, though. Sugar is almost impossible to avoid.
It seems like it’s in everything these days.
So, if consuming white sugar isn’t your thing, then you should pretty much stay away from most mainstream brands that even remotely resemble something sweet.
The best place to find vegan-friendly sweet treats is usually at health food stores. Here, you’ll find more organic brands that use raw cane sugar instead of the refined white sugar found in most mainstream brands.
If you’re a simple dietary vegan who’s just trying to avoid consuming obvious meat products, then white sugar may not be all that concerning to you. To be honest, none of the bone char actually makes its way into the final sugar product.
For these reasons, sugar will always remain a bit of a gray area as far as vegans are concerned. I’ll leave it up to you to decide where you want to draw the line, though. I’m only concerned with presenting you with the most accurate information!
What Are Fruit Roll-Ups Really Made Of? A Look At The Ingredients
Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking at, I figured that it was a good time to break down all of the ingredients in Fruit Roll-Ups so you can see everything for yourself. As a vegan, you should get used to reading ingredients labels, and this is a good place to start!
Here’s a screenshot of the ingredients, obtained directly from Betty Crocker’s site:
Now, I’ll take a few minutes to break all of those down for you, so you can see what you’re eating.
1) Corn Syrup
The main ingredient in Fruit Roll-Ups is corn syrup. Unlike white sugar (which goes through a questionable filtration process) corn syrup is 100% vegan from both an ethical and dietary standpoint. Aside from white sugar, it’s one of the most commonly used ingredients in candy.
It has a concentrated, sweet, and slightly fruity flavor that goes well with the natural fruit ingredients in the snack.
Refined white sugar is mixed in with the corn syrup to create a thick paste that serves as the basis of the Fruit Roll-Ups. Unfortunately, as I discussed above, sugar can be a rather questionable ingredient, as far as many vegans are concerned.
3) Pear Puree
Real pear puree has a very sweet, syrupy flavor that gives Fruit Roll-Ups an explosively fruity taste. I’m glad that real fruit is the third-most ingredient used in this snack!
Maltodextrin is a simple starch that’s typically derived from corn, potatoes, or rice, which makes it 100% vegan and plant-based. It’s a common food additive that’s added to candy and snacks to remove moisture.
This is how Fruit Roll-Ups are able to remain solid in their rolls without melting… At least, until you put them in your mouth, where they’re exposed to heat and moisture, allowing the moisture to return to the food.
5) Palm Oil
Palm oil is a plant-based cooking oil that’s commonly used in the fast-food industry and in processed foods alike. Although it’s plant-based, the industry behind palm oil is very destructive to the environment and is one of the main contributors to rainforest deforestation.
For this reason, many vegans completely abstain from palm oil, unless it’s certified organic and free-trade.
It’s another one of those situations where dietary vegans have a different perspective than ethical vegans.
6) Citric Acid
Citric acid is a natural, fruit-derived acid that creates a slightly sour or tart flavor in the Fruit Roll-Ups, increasing their “real fruit” flavor.
7) Sodium Citrate
Sodium citrate is very similar to citric acid and is used as a naturally-derived preservative. It makes the fruit snacks more acidic, which prevents bacteria from growing on them and increases the shelf life of the product.
8) Acetylated & Normal Monoglycerides
Monoglycerides are fatty acids that help water and oil agents bind together. In Fruit Roll-Ups, they act as emulsifiers, ensuring that the mixture remains consistent and that the ingredients don’t separate.
9) Fruit Pectin
Fruit pectin is a type of gel that’s derived from fruits. In some ways, it’s similar to gelatin and is an all-natural, plant-based substance that gives the Fruit Roll-Ups a chewy texture.
10) Malic Acid
Malic acid is another flavor additive that’s known for creating a sour flavor profile in the candy. It’s derived from fruit skin and is 100% vegan.
11) Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbic acid is just a fancy word for lab-synthesized vitamin C. This is vegan and is simply added to make the snacks healthier for the children to who the snack is marketed.
12) Natural Flavors
Fruit Roll-Ups contain mostly all-natural fruit flavors. These are all plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about where they come from!
13) Artificial Colors
Last but not least, all Fruit Roll-Ups are artificially colored. Since the colors are artificial and lab-created dyes such as red 40, you don’t have to worry about any beetles or animal by-products in your snack!
Conclusion – Fruit Roll-Ups Are Dietarily Vegan
Fruit Roll-Ups may be off-limits for ethical vegans who don’t like white sugar or palm oil. However, technically speaking, they are vegan-friendly.
If you grew up enjoying Fruit Roll-Ups, then you probably remember the Girl Scouts Thin Mints cookies. Keep on reading my latest post to see whether or not Thin Mints are as vegan as they are delicious!