Tootsie Pops were first released to the American public in 1931 and have since remained one of the country’s best-selling lollipops. They’re available in both small and jumbo sizes. I’ve seen them at doctor’s offices, and gyms, and given out for Halloween.
Just because you find them in the doctor’s office, though, doesn’t always mean that they’re plant-based (or even healthy).
So, are Tootsie Pops vegan?
Tootsie Pops, sadly, is NOT vegan. A closer look at the ingredients list will reveal that the popular children’s candy contains sugar, milk, and whey – all of which are non-vegan food additives.
Disappointed? I know the feeling… I can’t give you a vegan Tootsie Pop, but I can at least explain why Tootsie Pops aren’t vegan. Below, I’ll give you a complete breakdown of the ingredients so you can see for yourself!
Do Tootsie Pops Have Dairy?
I’ll admit that I definitely ate my fair share of Tootsie Pops as a young kid. Every time I went to the doctor’s office and got a shot, I’d walk out with a handful of Tootsie Pops from the front desk. Oddly enough, I even received Tootsie Pops after going to the dentist (which is really ironic).
All of the times that I ate Tootsie Pops, though, I would have never guessed that they contained any trace of milk.
This is just one example of why you should never rely solely on your taste buds when it comes to judging food. There’s often a lot more than meets the eyes and tongue of consumers.
Tootsie Pops contain both condensed skim milk and whey, which are dairy products that come from cow’s milk.
This means that Tootsie Pops are just as unsuitable for lactose-intolerant individuals as they are for vegans. Plant-based vegan eaters don’t drink milk or consume dairy-derived products due to the incredible cruelty shown to female cows in the commercial dairy industry.
The female cows are regularly raped and artificially inseminated so that their bodies are in a constant state of pregnancy, allowing them to produce more milk.
Their babies (which naturally spend several months with the mother before they reach maturity) are stripped away shortly after birth and sent to veal processing facilities.
For those who are unaware, veal is a type of meat that comes from slaughtered baby calves. Since the babies have yet to develop firm muscles, their meat is extra-tender and is sold to high-end butcher shops and steakhouses.
So, in a nutshell – female cows are raped, abused, and have their young stolen from them just to be slaughtered for their juicy young meat. If that’s not messed up, I don’t know what is.
Behind every seemingly innocent glass of milk, block of cheese, or a scoop of whey protein is pain and suffering that most humans would be ashamed of.
Don’t believe me? Check out this sad video to learn more:
Can Vegans Eat Lollipops?
I know what you’re probably thinking right about now…
“Okay, so the Tootsie Pops may not be vegan. But what about normal lollipops?”
Sadly, most lollipops are off-limits for vegans. They almost all contain white sugar, which is a non-vegan ingredient.
That being said, if you’re just a simple dietary vegan who doesn’t mind consuming white sugar that’s been processed with animal bone char, then you might consider trying them. While white sugar is processed using bone char, there’s not actually any bone char in the final product.
As a result, white sugar is often a gray area when it comes to an ethical plant-based diet.
To learn more about the debate on lollipops, be sure to check out my last post on Dum Dum lollipops!
What Ingredients Are In Tootsie Pops? A Complete Breakdown
So, what exactly is Tootsie Pops made of? If you’ve ever been curious about what’s inside these chocolate lollipops, then you’ve come to the right place. Here is the complete list of ingredients, obtained straight from the Tootsie website:
Now that you have a chance to see for yourself, I’ll go through the list and give you a full breakdown of each different ingredient.
Sugar is the main ingredient in Tootsie Pops, and almost all other lollipops. While all sugar starts off as an all-natural vegan-friendly product, that’s not the full story.
To turn the large brown cane sugar crystals into the small, concentrated white sugar crystals, the larger crystals must first be filtered and refined by using animal bone char.
This is a special type of high-carbon charcoal that’s used to filter out everything but the firmest, hardest part of cane sugar – the pure crystallized sugar.
Sadly, this process is the main reason why many vegans have been forced to give up white sugar. This makes it even more difficult to find vegan-friendly foods, as white sugar is used in so many popular products found on store shelves.
2) Corn Syrup
Next up, we have corn syrup. Corn syrup is a 100% plant-based sweetener that’s extracted from sweet corn. It’s clear, sweet, and has a slightly fruity aftertaste, which is why it’s used in so many fruit-flavored treats and candies.
3) Palm Oil
Palm oil is the main fat that acts as an emulsifier, holding the Tootsie Pop together. There’s just one problem with palm oil – it’s not really vegan.
Even though palm oil is technically a plant-based oil, the palm oil industry is anything but vegan. Every year, palm oil farmers burn down thousands of acres of natural rainforest to replace it with palm tree crops.
As they burn down the rainforest, they also push endangered species further toward human civilization, resulting in problematic (and often deadly) interactions.
4) Citric Acid
Citric acid is a mild acid that’s found in citrus plants and a number of different fruits. Therefore, citric acid is a vegan-friendly food additive. It’s used as a natural preservative and also lends itself to a more fruity flavor.
5) Malic Acid
Malic acid is also used in Tootsie Pops. Like citric acid, malic acid is naturally found in fruits and veggies. It’s a sour-tasting acid that’s used to bring out the citrusy flavors in certain artificial flavors.
6) Condensed Skim Milk
Condensed skim milk is the main dairy ingredient found in Tootsie Pops. This ultra-sweet, ultra-thick milk is a concentrated form of dairy that’s used as a flavor and texture additive in a number of different candies and sweet treats.
Cocoa is 100% vegan and is an all-natural powder that’s made from crushing and processing roasted cocoa beans.
Whey is another dairy additive that some people may not recognize. Whey is basically the pure protein that’s extracted from cow’s milk. Since it’s so widely available, it’s often used in athletic protein powders and supplements. However, it’s not vegan since it comes from milk.
9) Natural & Artificial Flavors
Tootsie Pops come in several different fruity flavors, combining the bright flavor of fruit with the warm flavors of chocolate. Tootsie Pops contain both natural and artificial flavors, most of which are vegan-friendly.
It’s hard to know for sure, though, since the company isn’t forthcoming about its flavor additives.
10) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a vegan-friendly ingredient that’s often added as a natural preservative. It also acts as a food stabilizer, preventing the ingredients in Tootsie Pops from separating.
11) Artificial Food Coloring
Depending on the flavor of Tootsie Pop you’re looking at, each one is color-coded. All of the food coloring used for Tootsie Pops is 100% vegan, though, as it’s man-made in a lab.
12) Strawberry Powder
Personally, I don’t have any idea as to why strawberry powder is used in Tootsie Pops. I did some research and couldn’t find any relevant information. I assume that it serves as some type of flavor additive. It’s an all-natural plant-based ingredient, though.
Are Tootsie Rolls Vegan?
Just as Tootsie Pops are non-vegan due to sugar and dairy additives, Tootsie Rolls are also non-vegan. Read this post if you’re interested in a full breakdown of the ingredients used in Tootsie Rolls.
Conclusion – Vegans Should Avoid Tootsie Pops
The main principle of the vegan diet is to avoid eating any animal or animal-derived food additives. Unfortunately, Tootsie Pops contain two dairy additives, palm oil, and white sugar, which are all non-vegan ingredients.
If you’re looking for a delicious sweet treat, then I recommend checking out Girl Scouts Cookies instead! Many of the best-selling flavors, like Thin Mints, are 100% vegan and dairy-free. Keep reading for a full breakdown of why Thin Mints are one of my favorite vegan cookies!