Taffy was one of the first types of candy and originated sometime during the 1800s. To this day, small confectioner’s around the world still make handmade taffies. However, Laffy Taffy was the first commercially-produced taffy candy to take the entire country by storm.
So, is Laffy Taffy vegan?
Laffy Taffy is not a vegan-friendly candy. Although the original Laffy Taffy candy doesn’t contain any obvious animal ingredients, it’s made with both sugar and palm oil. Most vegans avoid sugar and palm oil, as both additives indirectly involve animal cruelty.
Below, I’ll give you a bit more info on Laffy Taffy candies, break down the main ingredients, and show you exactly why Laffy Taffy isn’t a vegan-friendly candy.
Can Vegans Eat Laffy Taffy?
At first glance, Laffy Taffy looks fairly vegan. It has a bunch of bright packaging with images of fruit. As a kid, I assumed that they were actually made with real fruit. That’s the power of good marketing, though!
While Laffy Taffy may seem vegan-friendly, it’s not. The regular Laffy Taffy candy contains both white sugar and palm oil, and the Laffy Taffy bites contain gelatin.
That being said, if you’re one of the few vegans who just happens to be a dietary vegan (as opposed to an ethical vegan), then you might not have a problem with the sugar and palm oil.
Personally, I identify as an ethical vegan. People like us are vegan because we don’t want to contribute to animal cruelty or continue harming the environment. As such, I don’t consume any products that even remotely harm animals.
Dietary vegans, on the other hand, aren’t driven by ethics. As long as they’re not eating meat, they’re good.
Neither palm oil nor sugar actually contains animals, so they’re technically plant-based foods. However, their production involves indirect harm to animals, which is where ethical vegans draw the line.
Does Taffy Contain Gelatin?
Gelatin is an incredibly common food additive that’s used in everything from candy to Pop-Tarts. It’s a tasteless white powder that seems innocent, but it’s anything but innocent.
To make gelatin, the bones and remains of cows and pigs are boiled down in a large vat to soften them. This process releases the fatty gelatin within the bones into the water. This is then isolated, dried, and processed to remove the scent and taste of meat.
That’s why gelatin is so hard to detect in foods… It doesn’t taste like meat at all!
This is why it’s so commonly found in candy. Most people don’t assume that their favorite chocolate bar or gummy candy is really made from pork fat. It’s a lot more common than you may think!
The original Laffy Taffy candy does NOT contain any gelatin. However, the smaller Laffy Taffy “Laff Bites” do contain gelatin.
Can Vegetarians Eat Laffy Taffy Candies?
Vegans can’t eat Laffy Taffy candies due to the sugar and palm oil content, in addition to the fact that gelatin is used in the smaller Laffy Taffy Bites.
Vegetarians, on the other hand, can consume the original Laffy Taffy candies, as they don’t contain any immediate animal ingredients. Note – vegetarians should stay away from the Laffy Taffy Bites, as these contain gelatin (a by-product of pork fat).
Interestingly enough, you can also make your own version of Laffy Taffy at home:
Are Laffy Taffy Bites Vegan?
Laffy Taffy “Laff Bites” are one of the newer varieties of Laffy Taffy candies to hit store shelves. They’re small, chewy, bite-sized versions of the larger candy.
Laffy Taffy Bites are NOT vegan. Not only do they contain sugar and palm oil but they also contain gelatin, which is used to make the gooey center of each “bite.”
Are Fun-Size Laffy Taffy’s Vegan?
As a kid, I used to love trick-or-treating during Halloween. One of my favorite candies was the small fun-size Laffy Taffy candies that I’d get giant handfuls of.
Although in some vegan blogs I’ve come across the claim that the fun-size Laffy Taffy candies are vegan, this is not the truth. Fun-Size Laffy Taffy’s contain both palm oil and white sugar, meaning that they’re not at all vegan-friendly.
What Are Laffy Taffy’s Made Of? Breaking Down The Ingredients
Have you ever been curious as to what’s actually inside Laffy Taffy candy? I’ll give you a hint – there are a lot of ingredients. You’d think that such a simple candy would have a relatively short ingredients list…
Just take a look at the short list of ingredients on the packaging:
That’s a lot of stuff for a small piece of taffy.
To help you figure out what’s what, here’s a quick breakdown of each ingredient, so you can see for yourself why this isn’t a vegan-friendly candy.
1) Corn Syrup
The main ingredient in Laffy Taffy is corn syrup. This sweet, sugary syrup is used in around 90% of the candy you see on store shelves. It’s used in drinks, sweets, snacks, and everything in between.
Corn syrup, by itself, is vegan-friendly. It’s simply a sweet syrup that’s made from all-natural sweet corn. You’ll often find corn syrup being used in vegan-friendly sweets, so it’s not an ingredient to be concerned about.
If Laffy Taffy just used corn syrup, it wouldn’t be so chewy. So, sugar is added to the corn syrup to give the candy a thicker consistency and make it even sweeter.
Unfortunately, sugar is not a vegan-friendly sweetener. Even though it starts off as vegan-friendly cane sugar (which is unprocessed sugar), it goes through a refining process that involves animal parts.
To turn the naturally brown cane sugar into concentrated white sugar, the raw cane sugar must first be filtered through a special type of filter that uses animal bone char.
This removes the brown coloring and the malt flavor of the cane sugar, leaving behind a smaller, more potent white sugar crystal.
This process is the reason why most vegans today are abstaining from white sugar.
3) Palm Oil
Palm oil is yet another non-vegan ingredient used in all Laffy Taffy candy. Although palm oil is technically an all-natural plant-based oil, the industry behind it isn’t so vegan-friendly.
You see, most of the world’s palm oil either comes from the Amazon rainforest or from Indonesia rainforests. Unfortunately, these regions of the world have few laws to protect their rainforests.
So, large corporate farms burn down thousands of acres of forest every year to make room for more palm tree farms, fueling the ever-increasing demand for low-cost vegetable oil.
Not only is the destruction of the rainforest horrible for the environment but it’s also harmful to the delicate ecosystem and endangered species living within the rainforest. For instance, orangutans are killed every day by palm oil farmers!
For this reason, palm oil is NOT vegan.
4) Malic Acid
Malic acid is a special type of acid that’s found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s known for having a strong sour flavor. It’s often added to fruit-flavored candies to make them taste more like real fruit. Malic acid, by itself, is a vegan-friendly food additive.
5) Mono & Diglycerides
Mono and diglycerides are fatty oils that are extracted from plants. They’re primarily used as emulsifiers in foods since they help them bind together and keep them homogenous. This additive is a vegan-friendly ingredient since it’s derived from plants.
6) Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil
In addition to palm oil, Laffy Taffy also contains hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Hydrogenation is the process whereby hydrogen is infused into the oil, turning it from a liquid into a solid. This process is part of what makes Laffy Taffy candies gooey and firm.
Salt is also added to the candy mixture to make it stronger and provide a more balanced flavor. Salt is always a vegan-friendly food additive as it either comes from oceanic salt deposits or is synthetically made.
8) Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a naturally-derived preservative that comes from soybean oil extracts. For this reason, it’s generally considered a vegan-friendly food additive.
9) Natural Flavoring
All Laffy Taffy candies are flavored with naturally-derived flavors from fruits and vegetables. Although they’re heavily processed and modified, these are all vegan-friendly flavorings.
10) Artificial Coloring
Last but not least, Laffy Taffy candies are artificially colored to make them look bright, fun, and delicious. Artificial food coloring is vegan-friendly. It’s just not very healthy.
The Verdict – Laffy Taffy Is Not A Vegan-Friendly Candy
Laffy Taffy is not a vegan-friendly candy. It contains both white sugar and palm oil, which are non-vegan food additives. Additionally, some Laffy Taffy candy is also made with gelatin, which is a meat by-product.
If you’re looking for some healthy, delicious, vegan-friendly sweets, then I suggest checking out my list of the best vegan cookie brands instead!