Are Lemonheads Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

August 2, 2023

As an informed consumer with a big heart for our planet and its inhabitants, it can sometimes feel tricky to ascertain whether a particular product is vegan or not. 

Often, the challenge stems from manufacturers’ ability to disguise the true nature and source of their ingredients, making the process of finding out rather puzzling. 

In this article, we’ll put the spotlight on truth and transparency to support you in your vegan journey.

Are Lemonheads Vegan?

Let’s get straight to the point: Lemonheads are not entirely vegan. Now, let’s dig into the details to understand why.

The primary issue is the confectioner’s glaze that forms the shiny outer shell of these lemon-flavored candies. Confectioner’s glaze, also known as food glaze or shellac, is derived from the secretions of the female lac bug. This makes it a non-vegan ingredient — it involves animal products.

Are Lemonheads Cruelty-Free?

Unfortunately, we cannot claim that Lemonheads are cruelty-free. The reason lies once again with the confectioner’s glaze. The production of shellac involves the harvesting of the lac bug’s secretions, a process that may harm or kill these insects.

What Are Lemonheads Made Of?

Lemonheads are a popular American candy that has a tart, sweet lemon flavor. Loved by people of all ages, these candies are appreciated for their balanced taste that is not too sweet, not too sour, but just right. Below, we list the ingredients that make up Lemonheads:

  • Sucrose
  • Corn syrup
  • Citric acid
  • Lemon juice from concentrate
  • Confectioner’s glaze
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Acacia (gum arabic)
  • Modified food starch
  • Carnauba wax
  • Yellow 5
  • White mineral oil


Sucrose, more commonly known as table sugar, is a disaccharide that combines glucose and fructose. It is generally derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. In Lemonheads, sucrose is the main ingredient providing the candy’s sweetness. Sucrose is a vegan ingredient, as it is plant derived.

Corn syrup

Corn syrup is a liquid sweetener made of glucose. It’s derived from cornstarch, which is a product of the corn plant. Its role in Lemonheads is to enhance the candy’s sweetness and create a smooth texture. Corn syrup is a vegan ingredient.

Citric acid

Citric acid naturally occurs in citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges. It is often used in candies to provide a sour taste, balancing out the sweetness. Citric acid in food is usually created through a fermentation process and is considered vegan.

Lemon juice from concentrate

Lemon juice from concentrate is the juice of lemons that has been reduced to a concentrated form for shipping and storage purposes. It is later reconstituted with water. This gives Lemonheads their characteristic lemon flavor. As a fruit-derived product, it is vegan friendly.

Confectioner’s glaze

Confectioner’s glaze, also known as shellac, gives Lemonheads their shiny appearance. It is derived from the secretions of the female lac bug found in India and Thailand. Because it is an insect-derived ingredient, confectioner’s glaze is not considered vegan.

Natural and artificial flavors

Natural and artificial flavors enhance the taste of Lemonheads. Natural flavors are derived from plant or animal sources, while artificial flavors are synthetically created. Without more specific information from the manufacturer, it’s hard to say whether the flavors used are vegan.

Acacia (gum arabic)

Acacia, also known as gum arabic, is a natural gum made from the sap of the acacia tree. It serves as a stabilizer and thickener in Lemonheads. As a plant-based product, it is vegan friendly.

Modified food starch

Modified food starch is derived from starch, often corn, potato, or wheat, and is used to improve texture and consistency. Unless it’s specifically derived from an animal source, which is rare, modified food starch is vegan.

Carnauba wax

Carnauba wax is obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm. It is used to give Lemonheads a glossy finish. Carnauba wax is plant based and therefore vegan.

Yellow 5

Yellow 5, also known as tartrazine, is a synthetic food coloring that gives Lemonheads their bright yellow color. It is created from coal tar or petroleum. Despite these origins, it is considered vegan because it’s not derived from animal sources.

White mineral oil

White mineral oil is a highly refined petroleum product used to keep Lemonheads from sticking together. It’s not derived from animal sources, so it is considered vegan.

Vegan Alternatives to Lemonheads

If you’re seeking vegan-friendly lemon candies that match the tangy-sweet joy of Lemonheads, there are several options out there. You might explore candies from these brands:

These candies are not only vegan-friendly but also made with lovely organic, vegan ingredients.


While Lemonheads may appear innocent with their lemon juice concentrate and fruit flavors, the inclusion of confectioner’s glaze makes them unsuitable for a vegan lifestyle. 

But don’t despair! There are plenty of vegan food alternatives available to satisfy your craving for tangy, lemon-flavored hard candies. 

Always remember, your commitment to doing the right thing by avoiding animal products is not only an act of kindness towards animals but also a valuable contribution to the health of our planet.