Sweet Tarts first hit US candy shops in 1962, meaning that the brand is exactly sixty years old this year! These tart little pellets are very similar to Smarties (which I reviewed last week) but have a bit more of a fruity flavor. They’re also available in ropes and chewy varieties as well.
However, are Sweet Tarts vegan?
The original Sweet Tarts pellets are generally considered vegan, as they contain no animal products whatsoever! However, the Chewy Sweet Tarts and Sweet Tarts Ropes are both non-vegan, as one contains egg whites and the other contains gelatin.
In other words, as long as you’re sticking with the original Sweet Tarts pellets, you’re perfectly fine. Just avoid the newer Sweet Tarts varieties, as they all contain at least one animal by-product that makes them non-vegan.
In today’s post, I’m going to answer all of the vegan-related questions you’ve ever had about Sweet Tarts. Then, I’ll give you a full breakdown of the ingredients in the original Sweet Tarts as well as the ingredients in Sweet Tarts Ropes, so you can see why one is vegan while the other is not.
Are you ready to learn more about what’s in your favorite candy?
Are Sweet Tarts Dairy-Free?
Dairy is one of the most common additives to find in modern-day candies (and traditional pastries as well). That’s because milk has remained one of the most common baking additives in the US, thanks to European settlers who brought their dairy farming trade with them.
For instance, almost all of the chocolate you’ll find used in store-bought candy is made with milk chocolate, which always contains at least one form of dairy. Even the semisweet chocolate chips used in cookies often contain dairy.
Thankfully, ALL varieties of Sweet Tarts are 100% dairy-free. You’ll never find milk, whey, casein, milk fat, or milk solids used in any Sweet Tarts candy.
When it comes to most fruity candies like Sweet Tarts, you rarely have to worry about dairy, as it’s simply not commonly paired with fruity candies. The main culprit to watch out for in fruit candies is gelatin (see below).
Do Sweet Tarts Have Eggs?
You might be surprised to learn that some Sweet Tarts contain eggs!
While the original Sweet Tarts and Sweet Tarts Ropes are egg-free, the Sweet Tarts Chews contain a hidden ingredient called “egg albumen.” At first glance, this sounds just like another processed chemical in a long list of other artificial ingredients…
Once you look the term up, though, you’ll see that it’s just a fancy word for “egg whites.”
As I wrote about in one of my posts last week, egg whites are NOT vegan. The egg industry itself is very cruel and unusual.
While backyard eggs might be somewhat ethical, commercial egg-producing hens are kept in awful conditions, and male chicks that hatch are literally thrown in a meat grinder within days of being born.
For this reason, eggs are never vegan!
Do Sweet Tarts Contain Gelatin?
While the original Sweet Tarts are gelatin-free, the Sweet Tarts Ropes contain beef-derived gelatin.
Although many people may think of gelatin as an innocent artificial additive, it’s actually an animal-derived powder that’s extracted from the bones of pigs and cows.
After the slaughterhouse sells all of the meat cuts, they use the leftover connective tissues, skins, bones, and fats to make products like:
- Bone char (used for sugar refining)
- Collagen (used in cosmetics)
- Keratin (used in cosmetics)
- Stearic acid
- … and more.
Gelatin is pretty much tasteless, making it almost impossible to identify in foods. That’s why it’s so important to read the labels! Any products that contain gelatin are non-vegan and aren’t vegetarian either, as they contain beef-derived fat.
Are Sweet Tart Candy Canes Vegan?
When the holiday season comes around, Sweet Tart’s candy canes are a great alternative to the traditional peppermint and spearmint-flavored candy canes that you’ll find lining shelves.
Instead, Sweet Tart candy canes have a fruitier flavor that’s just different from the same old classic that you’re bored of.
Sweet Tarts Candy Canes are also vegan-friendly!
The only questionable ingredient used in Sweet Tarts Candy Canes is white sugar. Many vegans abstain from white sugar, as it’s filtered through animal bone char to remove its natural brown coloring and malt flavor.
What Are Sweet Tarts Made Of? A Look At The Original
I never expect (or want) you guys to just “take my word for it” when it comes to the food you eat. All of my posts are research-backed, so I can make sure that I’m providing you with the most relevant information.
So, I sourced the ingredients list straight from the Sweet Tarts website:
I also understand that half of those ingredients may be complete jargon to you. So, let me take a few minutes to go through the ingredients list to help you demystify some of them.
Dextrose is a simple, sugary starch that’s typically extracted from corn or potatoes. In some cases, dextrose is simply added to improve the texture of food (for instance, when it’s used in French fries).
In Sweet Tarts, however, dextrose serves as the main sweetener. It’s not as sweet as sugar or corn syrup, but it provides a mild sweetness that helps amplify the tartness of the candy, rather than its sweetness.
Maltodextrin is very similar to dextrose and usually comes from corn. Maltodextrin is essentially a super-refined version of corn starch.
It’s typically added as a caking agent, to help ingredients maintain their form and remain dry until they’re exposed to the heat and moisture of your mouth.
Maltodextrin is highly processed, so it’s not very healthy. It’s pretty much just pure simple carbs and sugar. However, maltodextrin is plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about this one.
3) DL-Malic Acid
Malic acid is a plant-derived acid that’s often found in grapes and citrus peels. It’s known for having a tart, slightly sour, slightly bitter taste. Malic acid is vegan-friendly and is the main reason why Sweet Tarts taste so “tart.”
4) Calcium Stearate
Although calcium stearate used to be an animal-derived product, today’s calcium stearate is almost always plant-based, as it’s cheaper and easier to a source.
Calcium stearate is a calcium salt that’s often used in food as an anti-caking agent. Essentially, this prevents the sweet tarts from melting into each other and getting messy. This is the fine white powder that you may notice at the bottom of a box of Sweet Tarts.
5) Natural Flavors
All Sweet Tarts are naturally flavored with fruit-based flavors. These flavors are all vegan-friendly, as they’re not meat-derived.
6) Artificial Food Coloring
Last but not least, artificial food coloring is added to each Sweet Tart pellet to give the candy its iconic blue and pink coloring. Artificial food coloring is always vegan since it’s produced in a lab.
Are Sweet Tarts Ropes Vegan? Ingredients Listed
While the original Sweet Tarts pellets may be vegan, Sweet Tarts Ropes are NOT vegan.
If you take a closer look at the ingredients, you’ll see that these sweet ropes contain both gelatin and confectioner’s glaze, both of which are non-vegan animal products:
Now, let me take a minute to go through the list and clear up any confusing ingredients.
Although white sugar is technically a plant-based sweetener, many vegans avoid sugar because it’s filtered through bone char to remove its coloring and organic malt flavor. The result is a more concentrated and “pure” sugar.
However, this process also involves animal cruelty and is unethical. As a result, most ethical vegans don’t consume white sugar. Instead, they look for organic cane sugar or use coconut sugar.
2) Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is another commonly-used ingredient found in Sweet Tarts Ropes. This sweetener is 100% vegan. It’s a plant-based syrup that’s extracted from sweet corn, and it’s never filtered through bone char.
3) Wheat Flour & Water
Wheat flour and water are combined to create a light, doughy substance that’s used to give the texture and consistency of the ropes. Wheat flour is always vegan, as it’s just dried and ground wheat.
4) Citric Acid
Citric acid is a natural cooking additive that’s derived from citrus (although most of today’s citric acid is lab-created). It’s vegan-friendly and is added to food to give it a more citrusy flavor. It also serves as a mild preservative and prevents bacteria from making a home on the candy.
Glycerin is a pure sugar alcohol and is commonly used in candy and baking applications. Although glycerin can come from meat, it’s more commonly extracted from the skins of fruits and vegetables.
Sorbitol is a zero-calorie sweetener that’s often used in diabetic sweeteners. It helps give the candy a sharp, potent, and sweet kick without adding to the caloric content of the ropes.
7) Confectioner’s Glaze
Confectioner’s glaze is one of the reasons why Sweet Tarts Ropes aren’t vegan. It’s also used in Krispy Kreme donuts, and is one of the main reasons why those aren’t vegan either!
The shiny glaze is derived from lac beetles, which are exploited and killed for the resin they produce.
8) Natural Flavors
Like other varieties of candy, Sweet Tarts Ropes are all naturally flavored. Unfortunately, they’re still not vegan, as they contain other animal-derived products.
As I mentioned above, maltodextrin is an incredibly processed form of corn starch. This is often added to food as a drying agent and helps it remain shelf-stable until you open the package or eat it.
10) Sodium Citrate
Sodium citrate is a mild preservative that’s commonly used in snacks and candy. It’s 100% synthetic, though, so it’s vegan-friendly.
11) DL-Malic Acid
Malic acid is responsible for giving Sweet Tarts Ropes their signature “sour” flavor. This acid is naturally derived from bitter fruits like grapes, for instance.
Gelatin is extracted from the bones of pigs and cows, which makes it a non-vegan product.
13) Plant-Based Food Coloring
Sweet Tarts Ropes are colored with concentrated juice from fruits and veggies.
Last but not least, salt is added to Sweet Tarts to strengthen the dough and balance out some of the sweeter flavors. This ingredient is always vegan.
The Verdict – Are Sweet Tarts Vegan-Friendly?
Although the Chewy Sweet Tarts and Sweet Tarts Ropes aren’t vegan, the original Sweet Tarts are 100% vegan!
If you’re looking for another great-tasting vegan treat, then I recommend checking out Girl Scouts Thin Mints Cookies next! They’re a delicious combination of mint and chocolate and go perfectly with a tall glass of almond milk.