Skittles – Taste The Rainbow! That’s been the company’s motto since they were first released in 1974. Since then, they’ve become one of the world’s top-selling fruity candies.
When I was still young enough to trick-or-treat, I used to grab all of the Skittles that I could, as they were one of my favorite candies.
However, are Skittles vegan?
Yes! All varieties of Skittles, including Skittles Original, Skittles Wild Berry, Skittles Sour, and Skittles Brightside are all generally regarded as vegan-friendly.
The only questionable ingredients in this candy are refined white sugar and palm oil, which some vegans try to avoid.
Skittles don’t contain any animal-derived products. In fact, they actually contain more natural flavors than most of the other candy on the market. This makes them an excellent sweet treat for vegans!
Today’s post is for the candy lovers. Below, I’ll break down all of the ingredients in Skittles and explain why all of today’s Skittles are vegan. I’ll also mention why Skittles weren’t vegan up until recently.
It’s time to taste the rainbow…
Do Skittles Have Gelatin?
This is the main ingredient that most vegan candy lovers get hooked upon. Gelatin is a powder that’s derived from pork fat and is one of the most common food additives in the world.
It’s especially prevalent in candy and sweets, where it’s used to create a chewy texture. Gelatin is also the reason why most PopTarts varieties aren’t vegan.
Thankfully, today’s Skittles are gelatin-free. So you can eat your heart out without having to worry about whether or not your candy contains pork fat!
That being said, I understand the confusion.
You see, until recently, Skittles used to have gelatin. They also used to use real fruit juice, as well, which is no longer included in their recipe (sadly).
In 2013, Skittles officially changed the recipe that they’d been using for almost forty years. The reason they changed it was to ensure that vegans and vegetarians could safely consume them. I really respect this move by the company to be more inclusive.
Why Did Skittles Stop Using Real Fruit juice?
The original Skittles recipe used real fruit juice from concentrate, which gave the candy a bursting fruit flavor.
The main reason why Skittles stop using real fruit juice in their candy was that they decided to remove gelatin from their recipe.
Gelatin is the additive that they used to turn the fruit juice from a liquid into a semi-solid that would remain shelf-stable. Without gelatin to emulsify the fruit juice, Skittles opted to start using natural and artificial flavors instead.
Could they have come up with another solution that allowed them to still use fruit juice? Probably.
At the time, though, the cost of real fruit juice was dramatically increasing, which would have led to price increases.
In short, the removal of gelatin combined with the rising cost of fruit juice is why the company switched to alternative flavoring methods.
Are Skittles Dairy-Free?
Since it first hit the market in 1974, Skittles have always been dairy-free.
Never once has the company used milk, whey, casein, or sodium caseinate in any of their products.
The reason why many people assume that Skittles contain dairy is that their counterpart, M&M’s, contains dairy. Most M&M’s are made using milk chocolate, which contains milk solids and sodium caseinate.
Although M&M’s and Skittles are both owned by the Mars Candy Company and look very similar in appearance, the two candies both use entirely different ingredients.
Skittles is very clear about being vegan-inclusive, so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about any dairy being used in the candy going into the future, either!
Are Skittles Gluten-Free?
Not only are Skittles a great vegan-friendly candy, but they’re also gluten-free as well!
Gluten is a specific type of protein that’s found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. It’s also present in some varieties of oats.
Whenever you eat seitan (a popular vegan meat alternative), you’re eating pure gluten protein. While there’s nothing inherently “unhealthy” about gluten, some individuals are allergic or sensitive to the protein.
For instance, those with celiac disease can experience severe breakouts, stomach discomfort, and swelling if they consume even a small amount of gluten.
The main ingredients in skittles are:
- Corn syrup
- Palm oil
None of these ingredients (or any of the flavor/color additives) contain any gluten.
Skittles Ingredients: A Complete Breakdown
Whenever I write these posts, I always like to give a complete breakdown of the ingredients, so you know exactly what you’re getting in your food.
All varieties of Skittles (Original, Sour, Wild Berry, and Brightside) use the same exact ingredients. The only difference between the Skittles varieties is the flavors and coloring they use in each package.
Surprise, surprise… sugar is the primary ingredient in Skittles candy. It’s also the first questionable ingredient in the candy.
Although some vegans are okay consuming sugar, many vegans choose to abstain from refined white sugar, as it’s usually filtered through animal bone char.
2) Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is the second type of sweetener used in Skittles due to its concentrated sweetness. Although it’s not all that healthy, it is an all-natural plant-derived sweetener.
3) Palm Kernel Oil
Palm oil is the second questionable ingredient used in Skittles. Although they try to disguise this by calling it “palm kernel oil,” it’s just plain old-fashioned palm oil.
Although palm oil is plant-based cooking oil, the palm oil industry is very destructive to the environment and is one of the main contributors to rainforest deforestation in South America and Indonesia.
For this reason, many vegans abstain entirely from palm oil, unless it’s certified organic (which Skittles’ palm oil isn’t).
4) Citric Acid
Citric acid is a plant-derived acid that’s used as a natural preservative. It also provides a mildly sour, citrusy flavor that most people love and appreciate in Skittles!
5) Tapioca Dextrin
Tapioca dextrin is a type of sugar that also acts as a drying agent. Simply put, it helps the Skittles stay dry and keeps them from melting as long as they’re kept at room temperature.
6) Corn Starch
Corn starch also acts as a drying agent and ensures that the Skittles coating has a smooth texture.
7) Natural + Artificial Flavors
Some Skittles are flavored with natural fruit-derived flavoring, while others (usually the sour ones) use artificial flavors. Don’t worry, though, all of the flavors used in Skittles are 100% vegan!
8) Food Coloring
Skittles contain red 40, yellow 5 and 6, blue 1 and 2, and titanium dioxide, which are used to color the bright Skittles. While food coloring isn’t healthy, the ones used by Skittles are vegan-friendly.
9) Sodium Citrate
This is similar to citric acid and acts as a mild preservative.
10) Carnauba Wax
Carnauba wax is a palm-derived wax that’s used to give the outer coating of the Skittles a solid, gum-like texture.
Are All Skittles Vegan?
The Original Skittles are, by far, the best-selling variety of candy. However, Skittles also offers several other varieties, all of which are vegan.
The only non-vegan Skittles you may find are Skittles Gummies. However, the gelatin-containing Skittles Gummies were discontinued in 2013 after the company made a switch to vegan-friendly ingredients.
If you happen to find any Skittles Gummies, they’re likely leftover from a long time ago!
|Vegan-Friendly Skittles||Non-Vegan Skittles|
|Original Skittles||Skittles Gummies (discontinued)|
|Wild Berry Skittles||Pre-2013 Skittles|
The Verdict – Can Vegans Eat Skittles?
Skittles are an excellent choice for most vegans. Although they do contain palm oil and refined sugar, which some vegans abstain from, the other ingredients are either artificial or plant-based.
If you love sweets and want to visit the dark side, then dark chocolate is another great all-natural vegan-friendly candy that you need to try!