When I was a kid, I loved Ring Pops. I would walk around class with a giant red Ring Pop on my finger, pretending I was a wealthy princess with a giant ruby ring.
Of course, the fantasy always faded as I slowly reduced my giant Ring Pop into a tiny nub. It was still fun, though, and is the reason why Ring Pops are still popular to this day.
Are Ring Pops vegan, though?
The original Ring Pop hard candy is generally considered vegan-friendly. Although it does contain refined white sugar (which many vegans avoid), none of the ingredients are animal-derived.
However, the Ring Pop gummies are NOT vegan, as they all contain gelatin, so make sure to avoid those.
As is the case with other candies, the original is vegan but the newer, gummy-textured Ring Pops are not vegan.
Below, I’m going to answer all of the vegan-related questions that you’ve ever had about Ring Pops and reveal why they’re a relatively innocent treat.
Then, I’ll give you a full rundown of the ingredients with an explanation of each ingredient, so you can learn more about what’s in your favorite candies.
But first, here’s the original commercial from the 90s that I grew up watching:
Do Ring Pops Contain Dairy?
I’ll admit, that dairy is a fairly common additive in the candy world. For instance, most candy bars are made with milk chocolate, which contains milk.
Additionally, dairy by-products like whey powder, casein, and milkfat are often added to foods like cereal and other snacks (like Cheetos, for example) to improve the texture.
Lucky for vegans, Ring Pops do NOT contain any dairy. This means that they’re safe for both vegan and lactose-intolerant individuals to consume.
Do Ring Pops Contain Pork?
If you’re not familiar with food ingredients, then this may seem like a bit of an odd question.
“Why would candy contain pork?” you may ask…
The very thought of eating candy with a pork chop just seems a bit absurd.
Yet, people do it every day without even realizing it.
That’s because one of the most common food additives in the world (other than corn syrup and sugar) is gelatin.
This is the main ingredient that’s used to make Jell-O and is included in a number of different candies and snacks. Most notably, it’s one of the main ingredients in marshmallows and is responsible for giving them such a bouncy texture.
The original Ring Pops (the hard candy) do NOT contain any pork and are 100% gelatin-free. However, the Ring Pops Gummies do contain gelatin, which makes them non-vegan.
Are Ring Pops Vegan & Gluten-Free?
Ring Pops are generally considered vegan, as they don’t contain any obvious animal ingredients. However, veganism and gluten-free diets are two totally separate things. Both vegans and gluten-free eaters regularly consume things that would make the other sick to their stomachs.
For example, gluten-free eaters regularly consume meat, while vegans regularly consume gluten-containing wheat products like bread and pasta.
Thankfully, Ring Pops can be enjoyed by both vegan and gluten-free dieters! Ring Pops don’t contain any animal ingredients or grains that may contain gluten. So, they’re vegan AND gluten-free.
Are Ring Pop Gummies Vegan?
When I was a child, there was only one type of Ring Pop. Today, though, the company has released a couple of different versions of gummy Ring Pops.
Unfortunately, the Ring Pop Gummies all contain gelatin, which is derived from pork or beef. This means that Ring Pop Gummies aren’t suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
What Are Ring Pops Made Of? A Look At The Ingredients
Wondering exactly what is inside of your Ring Pop? Well, the candy uses a relatively simple recipe that’s similar to that of other hard candies. The main ingredients are sugar and corn syrup.
When combined and cooled, they create hard candy that can be shaped into just about any shape you could think of. So, why not shape it into a giant “gem” and sell it to kids?
Here’s a look at the ingredients, so you can see for yourself:
Compared to some of the other candies I’ve reviewed, Ring Pops have a short and simple ingredient list. However, there are still some ingredients that may be a bit hard to understand. Also, it’s worth noting that sugar isn’t 100% vegan either, as many vegans disagree on this subject.
Let me take a few minutes to explain…
Sugar (particularly, refined white sugar) is often the cause of debate among vegans. On one hand, it’s technically a plant-based sweetener. Like organic unrefined sugar, it comes from the sugarcane plant, which is pressed for its juice.
The juice is then evaporated, leaving behind pure sugar crystals. These crystals are often referred to as turbinado sugar.
To turn raw turbinado sugar into white sugar, though, the natural brown sugar must be filtered through animal bone char to remove the outer layer of malty syrup as well as the coloring.
This refining process results in a purer, more concentrated sugar that’s better for baking and mixing (at least from a baker’s perspective). Unfortunately, this process quite literally involves the use of animal bones. For this reason, many ethical vegans avoid white sugar.
Dietary vegans, on the other hand, typically aren’t concerned about the ethics behind the food. Most dietary vegans are simply adhering to the diet for health reasons.
From a health perspective, white sugar is no more (or less) healthy than raw cane sugar. It’s also still a plant-based sweetener, so they’re not violating the diet by going out of their way to eat animals.
2) Corn Syrup
Unlike white sugar, corn syrup is 100% vegan, without a doubt. It’s a natural plant-based sweetener that’s obtained from extracting sugars from sweet corn and turning them into a pure syrup.
It’s never filtered through bone char and doesn’t undergo any other processes that could be “questionable.”
Corn syrup isn’t quite as concentrated and sweet as pure sugar, and it helps distribute the real sugar throughout the candy. Plus, corn syrup gets very hard once it’s cooled as a candy. This is why it’s almost always one of the main ingredients used in hard candy.
3) Lactic Acid
Lactic acid is a natural acid that’s produced by bacteria during the fermentation process. Ironically, this acid also acts as a preservative, as it prevents more bacteria from developing. As such, lactic acid is not only 100% natural but it’s also vegan.
4) Sodium Lactate
Sodium lactate is a salt that forms from lactic acid. Like its parent compound, sodium lactate also acts as a natural preservative in food.
5) Natural & Artificial Flavors
Without a bit of natural and artificial flavoring, Ring Pops would just taste like pure sugar and corn syrup. Most Ring Pops are flavored with some type of fruit or berry flavoring. These flavors are all plant-based or lab-made, so they’re generally considered vegan.
6) Artificial Food Coloring
Ring Pops wouldn’t be very fun if they weren’t colorful! All ring pops are colored with a blend of natural and artificial colors. Thankfully, all of the colors used for Ring Pops are 100% vegan and plant-based, so there’s nothing to worry about here.
Conclusion – Are Ring Pops Vegan-Friendly?
The original Ring Pops are vegan-friendly, as they don’t contain any distinguishable animal by-products. They do contain sugar, which could be concerning for ethical vegans; however, dietary vegans shouldn’t have an issue with this.
Just make sure to avoid the Ring Pop Gummies, as they contain pork-based gelatin.
If you’re looking for some other great-tasting vegan snacks, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan cookie dough brands next!