Sour candies weren’t always popular. However, thanks to advances in food flavoring technology, Americans started to get a real taste for sour candies in the early-90s.
Sour Punch candies were one of the first mainstream brands sold in the US. Today, Sour Punch Straws are one of the most popular types of sour gummy candies found in stores!
Are Sour Punch Straws vegan, though?
From a dietary perspective, Sour Punch Straws can be considered vegan since they don’t contain any animal ingredients.
However, many ethical vegans may not appreciate the fact that this candy contains white sugar, which is refined using animal bone char. Additionally, Sour Punch Straws also contain glyceryl monostearate, which is a questionable additive.
Below, I’ll give you a full breakdown of the ingredients, so you can tell for sure exactly what’s in your favorite candy.
Do Sour Punch Straws Have Gelatin?
If you’ve ever eaten a Sour Punch Straw before, then you may remember that they’re a fairly chewy candy with a gummy-like consistency. For vegans, anything that’s chewy can be a bit of a questionable product.
This chewiness often comes from added animal ingredients, such as gelatin or other animal fats.
For example, almost all varieties of gummy bears contain gelatin. Gelatin is a fine, tasteless powder that’s extracted from the cooked bones and ligaments of cows and pigs. This is the same ingredient that’s also used in marshmallows and Jell-O to give them their bouncy consistency.
Despite their chewy consistency, Sour Punch Straws are 100% gelatin-free! Instead, the candy uses a blend of syrup, wheat flour, and glycerin to create a chewy, soft texture.
“What about the glycerin, though? Isn’t that an animal-derived ingredient?”
Glycerin can be an animal-derived ingredient. It can also be a plant-based ingredient. It’s simply a fatty extract that can be found in vegetable oil as readily as it can be found in animal fat.
However, vegetable-derived glycerin is far more affordable and readily available, so it’s more common to find in food. Although Sour Punch Straws don’t specify which type of glycerin is used, I have a good feeling that its plant-based glycerin.
Are Sour Punch Twists Vegan?
While Sour Punch Straws are arguably the most popular variety of Sour Punch candy, the Sour Punch Twists are still fairly common to find on the candy aisle. They’re small, bite-sized twists that are made with pretty much the same ingredients as the Sour Punch Straws.
Sour Punch Twists are just as vegan-friendly as Sour Punch Straws. They don’t contain any obvious animal-derived ingredients. The only problematic additive is the refined white sugar used to make the Twists since many vegans are boycotting white sugar products.
So, whichever flavor you prefer, you can eat them with confidence knowing that you’re not consuming any mysterious animal by-products.
Are Sour Punch Straws Gluten-Free?
If you suffer from celiac disease or just have a general sensitivity or allergy to gluten, then you need to be on the lookout for any and all products that contain gluten.
Gluten is a simple protein that’s found in wheat and other grains, including:
- Some varieties of oats
All it takes is a small amount of gluten to trigger somebody with celiac disease, so you don’t want to try to push your limits here!
Unfortunately, Sour Punch Straws are NOT gluten-free. They contain wheat flour, which is one of the most glutenous foods on the market.
What Are Sour Punch Straws Made Of? Ingredients Analyzed
Sour Punch Straws are made using a similar recipe to Twizzlers and other chewy candies. Although they don’t contain gelatin, they do contain some other not-so-healthy ingredients. Just because they’re vegan-friendly doesn’t mean that you should go overboard and start over-eating them.
So, with that in mind, I’ll take a few minutes to break down the ingredients in Sour Punch Straws, so you can see for yourself. Here’s the shortlist:
Now, let’s cut through all of the terminologies and look at what’s really in your candy.
1) Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is, by far, one of the most commonly used ingredients in all types of candy. Corn is one of the sweetest vegetables (although it’s technically a species of grass) in the country. That’s why it’s used to make a sweet, fruity-tasting syrup.
Corn syrup hardens when cooled and is free-flowing when warm, making it the perfect sweetener for making candy.
While corn syrup may not be the healthiest thing to consume (as it’s just empty sugar and carbs), it is 100% vegan. Corn syrup is a plant-based sweetener that doesn’t contain or involve any form of animal by-products, so you don’t have to worry about this ingredient.
2) High-Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup is a super-concentrated version of regular corn syrup. It’s essentially chemically-modified corn syrup that’s designed to be thicker, sweeter, and more potent.
For this reason, it’s often blamed for sugar-related conditions, such as type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Although high-fructose corn syrup should generally be avoided for health reasons, it’s vegan-friendly. It’s not organic (or even very natural, for that matter), but it is derived from plants and isn’t processed with any animal products.
3) Wheat Flour
Wheat flour is blended with the syrup to create a thick, chewy candy without the need for gelatin. Wheat flour is always vegan, as it’s just dried, ground, and filtered wheat.
In fact, all flour is vegan, as they’re all 100% plant-based. Wheat flour, cornflour, potato flour, rice flour, coconut flour, almond flour, and others are just fine baking powders that have been made from dried plants!
Next up, we have sugar – specifically refined white sugar.
Aside from corn syrup, white sugar is one of the most common additives to find in candies and other sweet-tasting snacks. Although all white sugar starts as a vegan-friendly product, there’s a lot of debate in the vegan community over the ethics of consuming white sugar.
Technically, cane sugar is 100% plant-based, as it’s extracted from the sugarcane plant. The juice-filled plants are crushed to release a sweet, sugar-filled juice.
The water is then evaporated from the juice, leaving pure raw sugar crystals behind. This is raw cane sugar, which is 100% vegan.
However, to remove the brown coloring and natural malt flavor, the raw sugar must first be filtered through bone char, which is made from the charred remains of animal bones.
While none of the bone residues actually ends up in the final product, the mere fact that it’s used has caused most ethically-driven vegans to boycott the sweetener.
5) Citric Acid
As the name implies, citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. It’s what gives them that slightly sour aftertaste.
Most of the citric acid used in food, though, is synthesized in a lab. Since it doesn’t involve any animals, citric acid is always a vegan food additive. It’s added to Sour Punch Straws to give them a sharp citrusy flavor that compliments the fruit flavors.
6) Malic Acid
Malic acid is a slightly bitter–tasting acid that’s found in fruit skins, such as grapes and apples. It’s even stronger than citric acid and is often added to sweet and sour foods to give them a tart, sour flavor. It’s 100% vegan and plant-based, though, so no worries there!
7) Tartaric Acid
Tartaric acid is another sour-tasting acid that comes from fruits. It’s found in citrus, bananas, tamarind, and other fruits, so it’s vegan-friendly and safe when consumed in food.
8) Glyceryl Monostearate
Glyceryl monostearate is a chemical additive that’s often added to food products as an emulsifier to hold food products together. This chemical is made by combining glycerin with stearic acid.
Although both glycerin and stearic acid can be animal-derived, they can both be plant-based as well. It all depends on the source.
Although it’s impossible to tell for sure what type of glyceryl monostearate is used in Sour Punch Straws, I assume it’s plant-based.
Glycerin is a fatty food additive that’s often used as a binding agent in food products. Although it can come from animal fat, it’s more often derived from natural fats and oils found in vegetables.
10) Artificial Flavor
All Sour Punch Straws are artificially flavored to taste fruity, sour, and sweet. These artificial flavors are all vegan-friendly, though, as they’re lab-made and don’t come from animals or natural sources.
11) Artificial Food Coloring
All Sour Punch Straws are artificially colored, according to their flavor. These are all vegan, though, as they’re lab-made.
The Verdict – Are Sour Punch Straws Vegan-Friendly?
Sour Punch Straws are dietarily vegan. If you’re an ethical vegan who doesn’t believe in consuming white sugar, then you should avoid this candy, though.
However, if you’re just concerned about not eating meat, then these aren’t a bad choice, as they don’t contain any pork or beef-derived gelatin.
If you’re looking for another great-tasting, gelatin-free sweet, be sure to check out my latest post reviewing Swedish Fish next!