Sour. Sweet. Gone. If you’re a 80s or 90s kid, this slogan will instantly remind you of the sweet and sour sugar-coated gummies that were once an American favorite. The contrasting flavors and the chewy texture is still loved by candy fans.
Whether you’re a candy lover or just want to reminisce childhood memories, a bag of Sour Patch Kids doesn’t hurt anyone. But, if you’re a vegan, you have to think twice before you can munch on one of your favorite (childhood) snacks.
Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear cut answer to this! Some say Sour Patch Kids are vegan-friendly while others say they’re not.
Simply put, the status of Sour Patch Kids in the vegan community is disputed. Let’s figure out why!
What Do Sour Patch Kids Contain?
To get a clear idea about why Sour Patch Kids are considered controversial in the vegan world, we have to take a look at the ingredients list of these candies. Here’s what these popular gummies are made of:
You must have instantly noticed that Sour Patch Kids do not contain gelatin; the major culprit that makes candies and other sweets non-vegan. So, if you’ve been wondering do Sour Patch Kids have gelatin, you have your answer. No, it doesn’t! But, there are some disputed ingredients.
If you’ve been a vegan for any length of time, you must have picked out the controversial ingredients in this list. But, if you’re a new convert, you may not have a clear idea about the status of these ingredients.
To help you gain a deeper insight, let’s discuss what controversial ingredients do Sour Patch Kids contain and why are they considered so!
Controversial Ingredients in Sour Patch Kids
There are three Sour Patch Kids ingredients that vegans consider controversial:
As I had discussed in the Are Doritos Vegan article, not all sugars used in the food industry are considered vegan-friendly by committed vegans.
Because sugar is generally refined using bone char, which is made from the bones of cattle. This make sugar itself a controversial ingredient in the vegan world.
Hence, everything that contains sugar also becomes controversial, unless the label specifies that the sugar used in a product is certified organic, unrefined, or beet sugar. Bone char is not used anywhere during the processing of all these types of sugars.
In case of Sour Patch Kids, we sadly do not know the type of sugar used. Since the company doesn’t specify the type of sugar used in the manufacturing of these gummies, it is presumed that it is the refine cane sugar; as it is the most commonly used type of sugar in the food industry.
Apart from the regular sugar, the gummies also contain invert sugar, which is also made from ingredients derived from sugar.
II. Artificial and Natural Flavor
As I have been highlighting in all my food-related articles, there has been a lot of debate over the flavors used in food manufacturing. While the reason behind the unconfirmed vegan status of natural flavors is understandable – you don’t know what natural sources they’re derived from – the position of artificial flavors is a little more complex.
Artificial flavors are generally made using chemicals or, as defined by the US FDA, derived from sources other than plants and animals.
So, that makes them vegan, right? Technically, yes, but not really!
Confused? Let me simplify it for you.
Artificial flavors are vegan-friendly on their own. But, there’s an ethical issue involved in their manufacturing. Even though it’s not as common as with food colorings (which we’re going to discuss next), artificial flavors can be tested on animals. It’s a tricky situation!
We don’t know what flavors they use in Sour Patch Kids, so it’s impossible to determine their vegan status.
The colors that are used in Sour Patch Kids are artificial. The problem with artificial colors is the same as it is with artificial flavors – they’re essentially vegan, but not cruelty-free.
With regards to artificial colors, however, there is plenty of strong evidence that they’re tested on animals. This means, if you’re truly, strictly committed to veganism, you would want to avoid foods that contain artificial colors.
Are Sour Patch Watermelon Vegan? What About Other Flavors?
It is agreed upon by most vegans that most Sour Patch Kids’ flavors have the same controversial status as the original one. These include Sour Patch Kids Watermelon as well. But, some say that a few of their flavors are non-vegan.
According one source, Sour Patch Kids Extreme and Sour Patch Kids Xploderz are non-vegan because they contain lactic acid. However, when I dug a little deeper to investigate the vegan status of lactic acid, I found out that it can be made from both animal and plant sources.
Most lactic acid that is produced in the US is made from vegetable sources. Hence it is suitable for vegans. The status of lactic acid outside the US isn’t clear though; it can vary across various countries.
So, if you live outside the US and want to eat any of these Sour patch Kids flavor, you need to go the extra mile and confirm the source of lactic acid used in them from the manufacturer i.e. if you don’t mind the controversial Sour Patch Kids ingredients discussed above.
Another online source states that Sour Patch Kids Lineups and Sour Patch Kids Tropical Blast are non-vegan. Why? They didn’t explain. So, I had to put on my research hat back to find out more details about these flavors and what (allegedly) makes them non-vegan. Here’s what Sour Patch Kids Lineups contain:
These are almost the same ingredients as Sour Patch Kids original. This flavor is controversial, like others, but there isn’t anything that makes it non-vegan.
For Sour Patch Kids Tropical Blast, I couldn’t find the ingredient list. I don’t think we even get it here in the US. But, the packaging says that they are free of artificial colors and flavors.
However, we can’t say anything if this flavor of sour patch is vegan or not unless we take a look at the ingredients.
So, Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan or Not?
The vegan status of Sour Patch Kids is debatable. Some vegans may find it okay to consume them whereas others, the more strict ones, would prefer to avoid it because of the presence of controversial ingredients.
Whether you can eat Sour Patch Kids as a vegan or not depends on what veganism means to you and how far you have committed to this philosophy. If you belong to the category of vegans who only read the food labels to make sure there isn’t any animal ingredient or by-product present, you may not have any issue consuming Sour Patch Kids.
However, if you’re a passionate vegan who has whole-heartedly committed to the vegan philosophy and lifestyle, you would want to avoid these sweet and sour gummies because they have controversial ingredients.
Increase you knowledge about other popular snacks. Read my detailed post on another American favorite candy – M&M’s – to find out if they’re vegan or not.