Are Tootsie Rolls and Pops Vegan?


tootsie roll vegan

Since 1907, Tootsie Rolls are manufactured in the US as flavored taffy-like candies. The fact is that it was the first penny candy in America to be wrapped as an individual. It’s been in the market for long enough that, like me, you probably grew up eating it. It has both caramel and taffy thing but isn’t considered either.

Is the question that is it vegan? Woefully, Tootsie rolls and its derivative candy (Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Fruit Rolls, etc.) don’t have the title of vegan. Alas, they contain many animal ingredients, most of them being milk-based. However, some alternatives will be tackled below. 

Basic Ingredients

The current U.S. ingredients for the classic chocolate Tootsie Roll include:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Palm Oil
  • Condensed Skim Milk
  • Cocoa
  • Whey
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial and Natural Flavors

Tootsie fruit rolls include:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Palm Oil
  • Condensed Skim Milk
  • Whey
  • Malic Acid
  • Artificial and Natural Flavors
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial Colors (Including FD&C Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1).

Tootsie Pop ingredients include:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Citric Acid (May Contain Malic Acid)
  • Condensed Skim Milk
  • Cocoa
  • Whey
  • Artificial And Natural Flavors
  • Soya Lecithin
  • Artificial Colors (Including FD&C Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1)
  • Strawberry Powder

Non-Vegan Ingredients

Condensed Skim Milk

Cow milk with the water removed is what Condensed milk or evaporated milk is. It’s often given out as “sweetened condensed milk” which is just condensed milk with sugar added. The two terms (condense milk and sweetened condensed milk) are often used as equivalents.

Sweetened condensed milk ought to have total milk solids and milk fat at concentrations of 28% and 8%, respectively. Usually, about 15% of sugar is in the form of corn syrup or dextrose, which are added to it.

What makes it ideal for the preparation of desserts like candy, cheesecake, and pies is its high sugar content. The finished product is widely used in the manufacturing of chocolate and confectionery.

The sugar (added sugars plus lactose) contributes to the Maillard reaction, which imparts a dark color. This is why it’s perfect for candies like Tootsie Rolls. Plus, the high heat the sugar, which in turn combines with the milk proteins thus, resulting in a brown color.

This is the reason why it’s so hard to find vegan caramels and taffy.

Whey

It is a fact that lots of food products contain milk and its derivatives. Whey and casein are often added to candies as they enhance texture and mouthfeel. To boost their nutritive value, they’re commonly added to food products.

Because of these annoying ingredients, they rear their ugly heads in foods that would be otherwise vegan. I am not concluding that Tootsie rolls are otherwise vegan. But, whey is just one more ingredient that rejects this particular candy. Every Tootsie Roll (brand) candy has this ingredient.

Potentially Problematic Ingredient: Palm Oil

I am not pointing out that it’s not necessarily non-vegan, but if you’ve been reading up on non-vegan ingredients, you’ve probably run across this title at least once. To most of the extent, the vegan community doesn’t seem to add on foods with this ingredient as non-vegan. Instead, palm oil is a thing some vegans choose not to go with.

Its cultivation has several minus points for the environment view, many of which intimidate endangered species like the Sumatran Tiger and Orangutan.

Another Vegan Tootsie Roll Alternative

I mentioned one above, but here we go with another option.

These no doubt have palm oil but contain no rigorously non-vegan ingredients. What turns out is that Laffy Taffy has chocolate candy. I could only manage to find it in a bag which contains strawberry as a bonus. But, it is solid chocolate and solid strawberry (i.e., had variety and not one flavor of chocolate-strawberry).

Chocolate ingredients:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa Processed With Alkali
  • Palm Oil
  • Mono- And Diglycerides,
  • Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Natural Flavors
  • Colorants – Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.

Strawberry ingredients:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Palm Oil
  • Malic Acid
  • Mono- And Diglycerides
  • Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Natural Flavor
  • Red 40

 

A Note on Mono- and Diglycerides

Besides palm oil, these also contain mono- and diglycerides.

Like our fat cells have triglycerides, these molecules are fatty acids with a glycerol backbone. They hardly have any FA’s (one and two, respectively).

They’re synthesized by reacting triglycerides with glycerol and sometimes could even be 100% vegan-friendly.

The matter of fact is where the triglyceride precursors come from is essential.

These aren’t typically considered to render a product non-vegan and are problematic for especially prudent vegans. Some products jot down where they come from, but it’s rare—especially for products not set out for a health food population.

Unlike palm oil, these ingredients have a spot on PETA’s website in their list of animal-derived ingredients.

There’s no way of knowing where they’ve derived aside from reaching out to the manufacturer directly, and thus most in the vegan community don’t scrutinize them too much.

It’s just a personal decision. If you’re an especially prudent vegan, this is something you should be aware of.

A Note on Food Coloring Agents

It is to be noted that the above alternatives contain food coloring, which can be problematic. Although, in this case, the coloring agents are all vegan-friendly. 

Red 40 is often mistaken for Red 4, which is non-vegan as it’s derived from beetles.this is from where confusion begins.

Red 4 or carmine is a bright-red pigment that’s taken up from carminic acid, a compound present in specific bugs.

In the case of Red 40 or Allura red, it seems to be derived from petroleum and even strawberries.

It’s a dark-red azo dye commonly present in soft drinks, and children’s medications, and cotton candy.

I think that’s it for Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops. Thanks for reading.

References

  1. Kawash, Samira (February 1, 2010). “Chocolate? Tootsie Rolls”. Candy Professor. https://candyprofessor.com/2010/02/01/chocolate-tootsie-rolls/
  2. Manny Fernandez, “Let Us Now Praise the Great Men of Junk Food,” New York Times, August 7, 2010. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/weekinreview/08manny.html
  3. “Tootsie Roll Inc” https://tootsie.com/candy/tootsie-rolls/tootsie-rolls
  4. Tootsie Roll Inc. https://www.tootsie.com/candy/fruit-chews/fruit-chews
  5. Tootsie Pops Cherry and Grape Flavors. All-City Candy – https://allcitycandy.com/products/tootsie-pops-cherry-grape-9-6-oz-bag-071720047736-4
  6. Laffy Taffy Candy, Strawberry, Chocolate (10 Oz) from Hy-vee. https://www.instacart.com/hy-vee/products/3367057-laffy-taffy-strawberry-chocolate-candy-10-oz
  7. Animal-derived Ingredients Resource | Living https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/
  8. Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be Exterminated, Says CSPI. https://cspinet.org/news/bug-based-food-dye-should-be-exterminated-says-cspi-20060501
  9. Carminic Acid https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carminic_acid

 

Recent Content