finding out if sour patch kids are vegan or not

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? Our Experts Say No, Here’s Why!

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At first glance, Sour Patch Kids seem to like the perfect candy for a vegan. There don't seem to be any animal products in the sweet and sour candy. The problem is that they may not contain gelatin, but are often produced with controversial ingredients. We'll dive into the ins and outs of Sour Patch Kids' ingredients.

You can also find out if some other snacks are vegan as well. Our experts cover which Takis are vegan if the sour punch is vegan and are gummy bears vegan.

Related Article: Goli Gummies: Are They Vegan?

What are Sour Patch Kids?

If you've never bitten into a Sour Patch Kid, it's a treat for most people. It's a gummy with a sugar coating. They have a sweet and tangy taste. The multi-colored “kids” have been around since the 1980s.

When was sour patch invented?

Sour patch kids are made by the world’s largest snack company Mondelez International which is listed on the NASDAQ. Their other well-known brand of snacks include the Ritz crackers, trident gum, Triscuits, wheat thins, and one of our favorite vegan chocolate Hu. They distribute their snacks in over 150 countries. Sour patch kids were made available back in 1985. 

Sour Patch Kids: The True Ingredients

Many people claim Sour Patch Kids are vegan, but others say you need to dig a little deeper. These little candies are filled with many different ingredients. They do include sugars that are plant-based. They also include things like modified corn starch, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Yellow 5, Red 40, Tartaric acid, citric acid, and other artificial flavors. The label certainly seems friendly to vegans, but it could be misleading.

cool sour patch kids logo with smile face

The Sugar Used In Sour Patch Kids Might Not Be Vegan Friendly

Sugar is either made from sugar beets or sugarcane. These are both naturally derived ways of creating sugar. The refining process varies, even though the taste and texture are similar. Sugar made from beets is taken from the beets using a diffuser. Additives are mixed with this fluid to crystallize the sugar. Cane sugar is processed, bleached, and filtered by using bone char. It's not directly made from animals, but it still counts for vegans. Many people think they can just substitute beet sugar for cane sugar. The two types of sugar actually are very different when used in the kitchen. It's not easy to figure out which sugar is best for which sweet treat unless you do your research.

What Exactly Is Bone Char?

an image of bone char

Basically, bone char is what gives sugar its perfect white color. It's also called carbon many times. bone char is made from the bones of cattle. It's usually made overseas and then sold to traders. It's made by heating animal bones at high temperatures and then reducing them to carbon. The bone char particles do not usually make their way into your sugar.

Bone char can get even more confusing for vegans. Bone char is used to filter and turn cane sugar white, but that does not mean that all cane sugar is refined with it. There are many companies that use granular carbon to filter their cane sugar. Granular carbon is not made from animal products. The issue is that you aren't going to find a description on the side of your candy as to exactly how its cane sugar was filtered.

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan Friendly?

Many companies use both beet and cane sugar so it's hard to trace the sugars in them back to the original source. Mondelez International, the company that owns Sour Patch Kids, does state their suppliers use bone char. There is no straight answer to tell you whether the exact bag of Sour Patch Kids you purchase is vegan. It all depends on how strict of a vegan you are. If you oppose any of the ways these sweet treats are made that are listed below, you would consider them non-vegan friendly.

I pointed this out in my article answering if gummy bears are vegan. It really all depends on how strict you are living that vegan lifestyle.

Sour Patch Kids' Potential Controversial Animal Products Ingredients

Besides the use of bone char to make white sugar, there are other ingredients in Sour Patch Kids that raise a red flag for most vegans. If you're dipping your foot into the world of eating vegan, there are a few ingredients you need to think about before consuming everyday products.

Gelatin is the main thing that vegans look for when scrolling ingredients in their sweets. It's found in many different lollipops, jellies, marshmallows, and puddings. This is what helps the gooey treats stick together or gives them consistency. The problem is that gelatin is made by boiling parts of the animals. The skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments of cows and pigs are boiled to make the substance.

Gelatin is not listed as an ingredient in Sour Patch Kids, however, some people say there must be a trace amount in the candy. This is because there is no gelling agent listed in the ingredients. Most alternatives include pectin or agar. Some companies claim Sour Patch Kids might be made with a tiny percentage of gelatin. Though a gelling agent is not listed in the ingredients list, these candies may get their gooey feel from corn syrup and corn starch. Instead of using gelatin to bond together the ingredients, companies use other bonding agents.

Another thing to think about regarding these ingredients is that different companies in each country may produce Sour Patch Kids in different ways. The United Kingdom does list gelatin as an ingredient in their Sour Patch candy. The country where your candy is created can make a big difference.

Artificial Colors And Flavors In Sour Patch Kids

Sometimes artificial colors and artificial flavors are made in labs and tested on animals. Most vegans are strictly against animal cruelty. Some artificial colors like red dye are made by crushing cochineal bugs into a powder and mixing them with water. This type of dye is used widely in the food industry in many different candies and yogurts. It's usually listed as carmine or carminic acid. This doesn't mean all colors are made this way. The problem is that many artificial colors are tested on animals.

Artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, and Blue 1 are made from petroleum, which is usually tested on animals. Most dyes are fed to animal testers so their potential health issues can be monitored. These health issues may show up in the form of tumors. If the animal does not pass away from the side effects of testing, they are usually euthanized after testing products. Tests done on animals using Allura red have shown neurotoxicity.

Some vegans do not mind animal testing. Many vegans consume products with artificial colors or flavors without a second thought. Other vegans are strict about consuming or using any products tested on animals.

Vegan Alternatives to Sour Patch Kids

There are many alternatives to Sour Patch Kids that seem like the perfect fit, but it's tough to find any without artificial colors and flavors. There are a few types of candy that mimic Sour Patch Kids that are actually labeled vegan-friendly.


YumEarth‘s Organic Sour Beans are made from organic cane sugar. They also have all organic ingredients including organic brown rice syrup and organic tapioca starch. The colors are made from concentrate like carrot, apple, and blueberry.

Candy People

Candy People's Sour Vikings are made with organic ingredients that include grape concentrate and glucose syrup. Their color is made from paprika extract and turmeric.


SmartSweet's Sweet Fish are made with organic soluble corn fiber. They also include a natural berry flavor. Vegetable and fruit juice are used for the colors. The sweetness is made with Stevia.


Haribo's Sour Rainbow Strips have some questionable ingredients like sodium hydrogen and copper complexes, but they can be considered vegan. These ingredients are not derived from animals, even if they're unique.

These types of candy might not have the exact taste as Sour Patch Kids, but they are all sweet with a sour twist. It's worth it to most vegans to try out some yummy, healthy alternatives.

sugar sour patch kids having fun

Final Verdict: Sour Patch Kids Are Not Considered Vegan In Our Book

In conclusion, Sour Patch Kids s imply cannot be labeled vegan because of their use of sugar. Even if it is not all of the sugar, some of it was made with filtering using bone char. Some of the ingredients cannot be considered vegan either. The artificial colors and artificial flavors are made from tough testing trials on animals. Mice, dogs, and rats are just some of the animals that are tested on a regular basis.

Artificial colors like Red #40 are often tested to ensure humans do not get health problems from consuming them. It's also true that all of these ingredients are hard to avoid. Most of these ingredients are found in sweet candies. If you want the taste of sweet and sour candy, you will have a hard time finding organic alternatives.

The tough thing is that it is hard to find substitutes that taste exactly like candy. Candy is sweet because it's flavored with all of these ingredients that give it that taste. Strict vegans tend to stray from anything made this way.

You can make your own conclusions, but this information is what we can give you on Sour Patch Kids. The best thing to remember is that you always need to dig a little deeper into the ingredients list. Just because a candy claims it doesn't have any animal products, doesn't mean all of the products are free of testing or made with animal by-products.

Our Recommendation

Instead of eating candy, which could harm your overall health and wellness, consider taking a healthy gummy that can help with weight loss, give you more energy, and provide essential vitamins in your daily diet.

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