Are Cracker Jacks Vegan? And What About Crunch‘n Munch?


Cracker Jack vegan

Cracker Jack is a famous brand of caramel-coated snack mix having peanuts and molasses-flavored popcorn. Crunch Munch is almost the same but without the flavor of molasses. One for the difference between the two is that Cracker Jack contains a “prize”.

A lot of vegans have been eating the tasty snacks for many years and want to find out if they can still do that after switching to a 100% plant-based diet.

Are these Cracker Jacks vegan? The original Cracker Jacks are vegan because they do not have the real caramel. Also, there are some variations of the original product that have dairy derivatives, making them unsuitable for 100% plant-based eaters.

Is Crunch ‘n Munch vegan? No, Crunch ‘n Munch is non-vegan. This is true for the original caramel flavor as well as the other flavors like the butter toffee, chocolate caramel, etc. Each and every flavor of these brands in the market is non-vegan due to the presence of milk products.

We will list both vegan and non-vegan varieties of the snack foods along with a detailed analysis of their ingredients.

Vegan Cracker Jacks

Cracker Jack Original

This is the original caramel-coated version of popcorn and peanuts.

Ingredients include

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Popcorn
  • Peanuts
  • Molasses
  • Salt
  • Corn and/or Soybean Oil
  • Soy Lecithin

You can see here that the corn syrup and sugar are used but not caramel.

You know that even strict vegans sometimes like to avoid processed sugar, especially in the USA.

The main reason is that in the US processed white sugar is usually made using bone char. However, processed sugar alone doesn’t make them unsuitable for vegans.

This is mainly because white sugar can also be made without bone char and other vegan substances can be used to remove impurities.

But a prudent vegan opts for snacks made of only organic sugar, which is never produced with bone char.

Cracker Jack Butter Toffee Popcorn

This version contains

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Popcorn
  • Molasses
  • Lecithin*
  • Salt
  • Natural and Artificial Flavor

*Lecithin is added as an emulsifier and surfactant in processed foods. Fat and water molecules are attracted by such types of additives, making them nice and homogenous.

Lecithin is considered non-vegan only when it’s made from egg yolks. It is also found in plant sources like soybean and sunflower oils. The label here specifies that only soy lecithin is used. Hence, no problems here.

In the case of butter toffee, the word “butter” means bad news for vegans. But the butter flavor here is made from “natural and artificial flavors” and not from the butter itself.

Some natural compounds of butter responsible for its special flavor can be derived from sources other than real butter.

Acetoin, diacetyl, or acetyl propionyl, are three such types of compounds that are natural and can be found in natural substances, but they can also be synthesized chemically.

These compounds are vegan, but some prudent vegans like to avoid ingredients that are tested on animals say for carcinogenicity.

The product is vegan because doesn’t contain caramel rather it contains corn syrup and molasses.

Corn syrup is made from corn. so, it’s always plant-based and hence vegan.

Molasses is produced from sugar cane or beets, so it’s also plant-based.

Non-Vegan Cracker Jacks and Crunch ‘n Munch

Crunch ‘n Munch: Caramel

crunch munch caramel vegan

The question here isn’t “why is Crunch ‘n Munch non-vegan?”, but “why are the original Cracker Jacks vegan?”.

They claim it to be a caramel product. There are no labeling restrictions to prohibit a caramel candy not manufactured with milk sugar, from being labeled as a caramel.

Crunch ‘n Munch is made with a substance much closer to real caramel.

So caramel the confection (i.e. not “caramel color”) is non-vegan.

Caramel-coated candies can be free from dairy derivatives, caramel candy has to be non-vegan.

Why does caramel contain milk? It’s manufactured by the Maillard browning reaction on sugars, and the sugar of choice is lactose i.e. milk sugar.

Crunch ‘n Munch contains

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar, Water, Salt
  • Popcorn
  • Peanuts
  • Butter
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Soybean Oil
  • Sweet Dairy Whey
  • Emulsifiers – Soy Lecithin, Mono- and Diglycerides
  • Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)
  • Artificial Butter Flavor
  • Colored with Beta Carotene and Vitamin A Palmitate
  • Sodium Bicarbonate

Corn syrup is used as a binder (not melted caramel), we see dairy products in the mixture: whey and butter.

So, while Cracker Jacks just contain butter flavor, Crunch ‘n Munch has the actual butter.

Margarine and butter spreads are produced with vegetable oils, they can be termed non-vegan due to use of milk derivatives.

Butter is made from the cream content of milk, so it’s non-vegan.

Whey protein is a milk protein used by the food industry for a number of reasons.

Whey isn’t available in the plants, so it’s always non-vegan.

Crunch ‘n Munch Butter Toffee with Peanuts

crunch munch vegan

These contain

  • Corn Syrup
  • Popcorn and Peanuts
  • Sugar, Brown Sugar
  • Butter
  • Canola Oil, Soybean Oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Citric Acid and TBHQ (for freshness)

It is dairy-free because it doesn’t have any milk proteins. But it has butter as its ingredient. So, “butter toffee” lives up to the name.

Crunch ‘n Munch: Chocolate ‘n Caramel w/Peanuts

These contain

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar, Brown Sugar, Salt
  • Peanuts and Popcorn
  • Butter (Cream, Salt)
  • Chocolate Liquor
  • Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Sweet Dairy Whey
  • Soy Lecithin and Mono-/Diglycerides
  • Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Artificial Butter Flavor, Other Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Vitamin A Palmitate and Beta Carotene (Color)

Chocolate means the use of fat or proteins of milk. So, this is also not a surprise.

Cracker Jack’D Sweet & Salty Salted Caramel Popcorn

It wasn’t obvious that it would be non-vegan because it is just a salty version of the original.

It contains

  • Sugar, Salt
  • Butter (Cream, Salt)
  • Popcorn
  • Brown Sugar
  • Almonds
  • Whey, Whey Protein Isolate, and Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Enzyme Modified Butter (Butter, Buttermilk, Enzymes)
  • Maltodextrin (from Corn)
  • Buttermilk
  • Guar Gum and Gum Arabic
  • Artificial Color
  • Skim Milk
  • Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil
  • Natural Flavors (Including Natural Caramel Type Flavor)
  • Molasses
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Rosemary Extract and Ascorbic Acid (Antioxidants)

It contains almost every milk derivative.

Cracker Jack Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

Chocolate-flavored snacks are usually non-vegan.

These contain

  • Corn Syrup, Sugar, Salt
  • Popcorn
  • Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali)
  • Maltodextrin (Made from Corn), Dextrose
  • Butter (Cream, Salt)
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors (Including Natural Chocolate Flavor WONF, Artificial Chocolate Flavor, and Artificial Peanut Butter Flavor)
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
  • Glycerol and Soy Lecithin

It is definitely non-vegan.

That’s the fact file for the vegan status of Cracker Jacks and Crunch ‘n Munch. Thanks for reading.

References

  1. Cracker Jack The Original Caramel Coated Popcorn & Peanuts. https://www.heb.com/product-detail/cracker-jack-the-original-caramel-coated-popcorn-peanuts/128042
  2. PETA – Is Sugar Vegan? https://www.peta.org/living/food/is-sugar-vegan/
  3. Artificial Butter Flavoring. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_butter_flavoring
  4. Animal Testing For Artificial Butter Flavoring? https://www.peta.org/blog/animal-testing-artificial-butter-flavoring/
  5. Corn Syrup. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_syrup
  6. Molasses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molasses
  7. Crunch N Munch Butter Toffee with Peanuts 12 Oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Crunch-N-Munch-Butter-Toffee-with-Peanuts-12-Oz/49409666
  8. Cracker Jack Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn 4 Ounce Plastic Bag. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cracker-Jack-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Popcorn-4-Ounce-Plastic-Bag/49866062

 

Recent Content