Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 29, 2023

Identifying whether Jolly Ranchers are vegan or not can be a challenging task.

This difficulty arises because manufacturers include long lists of ingredients that the layperson can barely pronounce, let alone understand the origins of.

However, this article aims to uncover the truth and support you, our young and passionate reader, in your commendable vegan lifestyle.

Are Jolly Ranchers Vegan?

Jolly Ranchers are not strictly vegan. The primary concern is the sugar, which might be processed using bone char.

Filtering sugar through animal bone char is actually waning in favor of vegan-friendly methods, but it’s still common enough that we’re not comfortable calling products with sugar in them “vegan” unless we know for sure.

However, I’ve heard that only the strictest of vegans avoid refined sugar. So, maybe Jolly Ranchers are vegan to you, but we can’t confirm they are.

Are Jolly Ranchers Cruelty-Free?

Jolly Ranchers are not cruelty-free. Artificial colors, like the Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, and Yellow 6 included in Jolly Ranchers, are tested on animals. Furthermore, ingredients like corn syrup, soy lecithin, corn starch, citric acid, and possibly also sugar are GMO, and GMOs are tested on animals.

While the candy itself might not directly harm animals, the production of some of its ingredients might.

What Are Jolly Ranchers Made Of?

Jolly Ranchers, a popular candy among many, consist of a mix of the following ingredients:

  • Corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Malic acid
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6)
  • Mineral oil
  • Lecithin (soy)

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is derived from cornstarch and is used as a sweetener. It’s vegan because it’s plant based, but it is GMO.


Sugar is derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. While it’s plant based, some sugar is processed using bone char, making it non-vegan. However, it’s unclear in this context. If you’re a strict vegan, you’ll want to steer clear. The sugar is also likely GMO.

Malic Acid

Malic acid is a naturally occurring substance in many fruits. It’s used to give candies a tart taste. It’s vegan friendly.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

These flavors can be derived from both plant and animal sources. Without specific details, it’s hard to determine their vegan status.

Artificial Colors

Artificial colors like Red 40 and Yellow 5 are synthetic dyes. They can be tested on animals, making them potentially non-vegan.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum. While not derived from animals, its environmental impact can be concerning for strict vegans.

Lecithin (soy)

Lecithin is a fatty substance that can come from both plants (like soy) or animals. Soy lecithin is vegan-friendly.

Vegan Alternatives to Jolly Ranchers

If you’re looking for vegan-friendly alternative brands to Jolly Rancher candies, you’re in luck! There are numerous options available:

  • Hard Candies: Look for brands that specifically label their products as vegan. Brands like YumEarth label their products as vegan.
  • Jelly Beans: There are vegan jelly beans available that avoid beeswax and gelatin. Surf Sweets offers vegan jelly beans without beeswax or gelatin.
  • Lollipops: Many organic lollipops are vegan-friendly, avoiding beeswax and artificial colors. YumEarth is a great option here as well.


Navigating the world of candies and determining their vegan status can be tricky. Hence, determining the vegan and cruelty-free status of candies like Jolly Ranchers is complex. The sugar inside of them raises some concerns because it might involve animal by-products, specifically, bone char.

Also, some other ingredients like the artificial colors potentially obtained through animal testing as well as GMOs like corn syrup or soy lecithin make Jolly Ranchers also not cruelty-free.

As informed consumers, choosing food that resonates with our values is crucial. Every choice impacts our planet and its beings. Remember, every small choice can make a big difference for our planet and its inhabitants.