Are Sour Patch Kids Vegetarian or Vegan? It Depends on This

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegetarian or Vegan?
Are Sour Patch Kids Vegetarian or Vegan?

Here’s something I wasn’t aware of, not being big candy eaters. A lot of vegans ask, “Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan?”.  And vegetarians might wonder the same, “Are sour patch kids vegetarian”? Naturally I would assume that they are. I mean, they aren’t obvious animal products such as meat or dairy. Let’s have a closer look and see what the answer might be.

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan or Vegetarian? It Depends on this! [And Do Sour Patch Kids have Gelatin?]

Video: Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan or Vegetarian? Do Sour Patch Kids Have Gelatin?

Where does the controversy come from? The question is actually in,

Do Sour Patch Kids Have Gelatin?

Why is it a concern if Sour Patch Kids have gelatin?  Because gelatin is not a vegan or vegetarian friendly ingredient.

Gelatin is made from the skin, bones, tendons and ligaments of cows or pigs.  All which is leftover after removing the meat.  All of these ingredients are then boiled together to make gelatin.  Gelatin is found in all kinds of junk food.  Such as, candy, ice cream, puddings, Jello, etc.  According to PETA, gelatin is not vegan.  But there is something that’s marketed as “gelatin”, and yet is vegan friendly.  It’s “agar agar” and it’s made from seaweed, so it is vegan.  See Top Vegan Gelatin Substitutes.

So it’s a little confusing.   And what does it have to do with Sour Patch Kids?

Well, anything that has a gummy type of texture, a lot of times needs gelatin to create the gumminess.  And Sour Patch Kids have that gummy texture.  So we have to see if they might use gelatin or not, and what kind of gelatin.

Sour Patch Kids Ingredients

Sour Patch Kids that are vegan and vegetarian friendly and don't list gelatin.
Sour Patch Kids that are vegan and vegetarian friendly and don’t list gelatin

According to the Sour Patch Kids website, the ingredients for Sour Patch Kids in the United States are:


So according to the Sour Patch Kids official website, they are not claiming that any gelatin is used in Sour Patch Kids.  Also, Peta calls Sour Patch Kids a vegan friendly food.  To the right you can see an image of the ingredients list.

But, there is some beliefs that Sour Patch Kids has its own proprietary formula that does use gelatin and doesn’t list it as an ingredient.  There is also a commenter elsewhere who says that when they called the Sour Patch Kids customer service number, they were told that Sour Patch Kids are not vegan friendly.   Also, they are not certified as being Vegan.

But, Corn Syrup and Modified Corn Starch can be used as a bonding agent.  So it seems that in the U.S., that is what is being used instead of gelatin.

But, packages of Sour Patch Kids in the United Kingdom list gelatin plainly as an ingredient in Sour Patch Kids.  See the images below.

Sour Patch Kids with Gelatin as ingredient
Sour Patch Kids with Gelatin listed as an ingredient
Sour Patch Kids ingredients not vegan
Sour Patch Kids that are not vegan or vegetarian and list gelatin as an ingredient

The ingredients listed for the U.K. Sour Patch Kids are:

  • Sugar
  • Glucose Syrup
  • Water
  • Starch
  • Gelatine
  • Acid (malic acid)
  • Concentrated apple juice
  • Colours (anthocyanins, vegetable carbon, paprika extract, lutein, curcumin)
  • Acidity regulator (calcium citrates)
  • Palm oil
  • Flavourings

It seems that different regions use different companies for making the candies.  So it seems to depend on which region you live in, if the Sour Patch Kids contain gelatin as an ingredient or not.

Other Ingredients of Concern

Apart from just the gelatin, there might be some other ingredients that are not kosher for strict vegans who are looking to eat as purely vegan as possible, and would make Sour Patch Kids non-vegan.  The issue of other ingredients that they might not want to consume has to do with the sugar and some of the artificial colorings.

White sugar and brown sugar are created by using bone char in order to turn the sugar white.  Bone char is made from the left over bones of slaughtered cattle.  If the sugar is organic sugar, then it does not use bone char.  But since Sour Patch Kids do not use organic sugar, it’s safe to assume the sugar that they use has had bone char used in the making of it.

Artificial colors might be avoided by some vegans as well.  Although they are derived from plant products, the issue is that artificial colors are tested on animals such as mice and even dogs.  These tests are usually done to determine the safety of the artificial colors.

Can Vegans Eat Sour Patch Kids?

Although Sour Patch Kids do not have any huge and obvious animal products such as meat or dairy, if you are someone who is a strict vegan or vegetarian, then it depends on what region you are in.  You will have to check the label to verify which ingredients are in the Sour Patch Kids that you are eating or plan to buy.  The gelatin makes up probably less than 1% of the product, but it is there.  Also, if you are a strict vegan, the concerns with sugar and artificial colorings also make them not vegan friendly.

But ultimately Sour Patch Kids are best avoided.  They are not good for the health anyway.  They fall under the label of “Vegan Junk food“.   It is much better to eat a foods in their whole and natural forms as found in a Whole Food Plant Based Diet.  This includes the WFPB or WFPBNO diet.  Both of which I eat as a vegan and can be healthy vegan diets.

Sour Patch Kids already have questions about their vegan friendliness.  And if you are someone who cares about their health, it’s best to avoid these and other junk foods.  Try eating a whole piece of fruit, nuts or peanut butter instead.

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegetarian?

If you are a strict vegetarian, then you want to check the nutrition label of whichever type of Sour Patch Kids you have to verify whether gelatin is an ingredient or not, since it depends on which region you live.  If gelatin is listed, since gelatin is not a vegetarian food, the Sour Patch Kids would not be vegetarian.

Are Sour Patch Watermelon Vegan?

The ingredients are almost the same as the regular Sour Patch Kids.  The only extra ingredient is Titanium Dioxide.  But just like the regular Sour Patch Kids, it is best to check the box depending on the region you live in to see if gelatin is used.  Also, you will have the same issues with sugar and artificial coloring not being vegan friendly.

Are Sour Punch Straws Vegan?

Sour Punch Straws are a type of candy that are similar to Sour Patch Kids.  You can read about if they are vegan at Are Sour Punch Straws Vegan? It Depends on this.

Are Sour Patch Kids Kosher?

Sour Patch Kids are not certified as Kosher.  At one point, some packages of Sour Patch Kids were mistakenly carrying the Kosher certification, but action was taken.

Vegan Candy

If you are absolutely in need of some vegan candy and the Sour Patch Kids in your area are not vegan, or you are looking for some for your kids and you are strict vegan, then you can consider some of these alternatives.  But, try to keep it to a minimum or avoid if possible!

  • Dark Chocolate – Cacao content of 50% or more.  The higher the better.  Avoid milk chocolate.
  • Swedish Fish – They don’t use gelatin, only animal-free ingredients like cornstarch.
  • Twizzlers – They use cornstarch instead of gelatin in Twizzlers.
  • Skittles – They originally had gelatin but has been switched out for a plant based version.
  • Nerds – They are pretty much just hardened sugar.
  • Airheads
  • Dots
  • Pixy Stix
  • Sweet Tarts
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Lollipops
  • Smarties
  • JujuBes
  • Mary Janes

A lot of candy bars, especially those that contain milk chocolate are not vegan.  This is because they contain milk, an animal product that is not vegan friendly, and some contain eggs.  So candy bars such as Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, etc. are not Vegan friendly.

Final Thoughts

In order to determine if your bag of Sour Patch Kids are vegan or vegetarian and free of gelatin, you will have to check the label.  This is because different areas use different manufactures to produce Sour Patch Kids, and these different companies use different recipes.  Some use gelatin and some don’t.  Even if they are gelatin free, but you are a strict vegan, the sugar and artificial colors might not be a vegan friendly option for you.

If health is something that you care about, it is best to avoid Sour Patch Kids anyways and just eat natural whole plant-based foods such as some fruit, as a snack.

If you do need to have some candy and you don’t have a gelatin free version of Sour Patch Kids, consider some of the alternative vegan candy that was mentioned.  There are plenty of other options available.


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