Finding vegan food, especially candies, isn’t that easy. In fact, it is almost impossible!
Even if it contains vegan ingredients, it doesn’t mean it is cruelty-free! But with rumors going around that Fruit Gushers are vegan, we couldn’t help but dive deep into the topic.
So, are gushers vegan? Gushers do not contain any animal products, making them suitable for many vegan diets. However, they do contain sugar, glycerine, and palm oil, which may have been produced using animal byproducts or have a negative impact on the environment.
In today’s article, we will have an in-depth look at every ingredient that is used to make this candy and also discuss the controversy surrounding them.
We will then finally answer some other questions surrounding these snacks and have a look at whether the different flavors are vegan as well.
What Are Gushers?
They have a uniquely soft, chewy, and almost gummy gel-like outer layer that encloses a delicious fruit-flavored juice on the inside. When you bite the candy, the juice gushes out, hence the name!
Gushers have a very unique shape that actually has a name; elongated hexagonal bipyramid. What a mouthful, right? But no one seems to care all that much about its shape, but rather its delicious flavor and unique texture.
These candies were originally released in 1991 by a food manufacturing company called General Mills under their popular brand, Betty Crocker. Initially, they only released two flavors called Gushin’ Grape and Strawberry Splash.
These candies were an instant hit due to their memorable shape and unique textures. Today there are many different varieties available on the market as well as flavors.
You can find Gushers in tropical, sour berry, raspberry, lemonade, orange, and much more. Naturally, you have to look at every flavor to determine if one specific one is vegan or not.
Ingredients Used To Make Gushers
Gushers contain quite a long list of ingredients, and we will discuss all of them! This is the only true way to determine and fully understand why they are or aren’t vegan. Let’s begin!
Despite the different varieties, most Gusher products are made using more or less the same ingredients. Coloring and flavoring are the two main ingredients that differ from variety to variety.
The basic ingredients for Gushers include sugar, corn syrup, dried corn syrup, pear puree concentrate, modified corn starch, fructose, maltodextrin, and palm oil.
Other ingredients that are present but under 2% include cottonseed oil, glycerine, grape juice concentrate, carrageenan, citric acid monoglycerides, sodium citrate, malic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), natural flavor, potassium citrate, agar-agar, xanthan gum, coloring (Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5&6).
As you can see, that is quite a list compared to some other vegan candies.
Are These Ingredients Vegan?
At first glance, there don’t seem to be any obvious non-vegan ingredients. Usually, candies use setting agents like gelatin (which isn’t vegan and is derived from animal bones), but these candies don’t.
The biggest problem with these candies, and arguably all vegan candies, is what you define as “vegan.”
Even if an ingredient isn’t a byproduct of animals, some people consider ingredients as non-vegan if they aren’t environmentally friendly or sustainably sourced.
This opens up the door to our question a lot and is why there is so much controversy regarding the topic.
The Questionable Ingredients
So, again, despite these ingredients not being byproducts of animals, some of them aren’t defined as vegan by all. Let’s have a look at some of the most questionable ingredients.
Sugar itself is a plant-based product. What makes it non-vegan to many is the fact that a ton of sugar products are processed using bone char. Bone char helps cane sugar retain its pure white color.
Even though the sugar itself doesn’t contain any bone char, the mere fact that it is processed using an animal product makes a ton of vegans avoid processed or refined sugar.
Not all sugars are processed using bone char – just keep that in mind. The type of sugar used for Gushers isn’t specified (whether or not the sugar used bone char) and it would be nearly impossible to find out.
Glycerine is a colorless and odorless syrup that helps add sweetness to candies, helps them retain moisture, and helps prevent the crystallization of sugar.
Glycerine is usually obtained from plant sources, but not always. And because General Mills has never released the exact type of glycerine they use, it is a very real possibility that it could be animal-derived.
3. Carnauba Wax And Palm Oil
Both Palm oil and Carnauba wax are obtained from palm trees, meaning they are plant-based. However, this is where the debate comes in.
Palm forests are known to be a devastating crop, not because of the plant itself, but what it is doing to the rest of its surrounding environment. Palm trees are fast-growing, easily harvested crops, meaning more and more corporations want to plant them.
This means that thousands of acres of natural forests are removed to make room for this money-making tree. Deforestation has devastating effects on surrounding species.
That is why many do not consider these to be vegan ingredients, because the effect that they have on the environment is just as devastating, if not more, than the meat industry.
And again, because General Mills doesn’t show any sign of using sustainably obtained palm products, there is no way of deciding whether or not it is truly vegan (according to your own definition).
4. “Natural” Flavorings
Believe it or not, but a ton of so-called “natural flavorings” aren’t natural in the way you may think they are.
“Natural” can really mean anything that isn’t man-made, and animals are included in that category. A lot of flavorings contain animal products or byproducts.
For example, one animal-based flavoring labeled as “natural” is called castoreum. It is obtained from beavers and is used to produce juicier vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry flavors.
There are rumors that this flavor is used for Strawberry Splash in the Gushers range, however, there isn’t any certifiable proof.
The good news is that castoreum is relatively rare and generally used for ice cream, which is something you won’t consume anyway if you’re already following a vegan diet.
5. Artificial Colorings
As with the flavorings, there is quite a debate regarding artificial colorants in processed food.
The main food colorants used in Gushers include Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 5 and 6. Just like with regular paint and colors, these primary colors are mixed to create a variety of different colors.
Red 40 is often confused with Red 4, which is a colorant obtained from beetles. Red 40 is a petroleum-derived product and is safe to consume and vegan.
Yellow 5 (Tartrazine) and Yellow 6 (Sunset Yellow) are also petroleum-derived products. Yellow 6 can also be derived from strawberries. Blue 1 (or brilliant blue FCF) is a chemically synthesized product and is also considered to be vegan.
So, Are Fruit Gushers Vegan?
It is nearly impossible to tell whether or not some of these ingredients were produced using animal byproducts, and it is impossible to tell exactly which version of a product they used or where it is from.
If you have strong beliefs regarding the issues or possible issues we have discussed, stay away from these candies. But, if you merely look at animal-based ingredients, then these candies are all good!
Which Flavors Are Vegan?
From our research, we couldn’t find any flavors or variants that weren’t vegan (if you’re not considering possible bone char use in sugar production or palm oil’s effect on deforestation).
As we have mentioned before, the natural flavors used are almost always plant-based. This is especially true for fruit-flavored candies.
Gusher ranges that are vegan (from our research) include:
- Fruit Gushers Variety Pack (Strawberry Splash and Tropical Flavors)
- Super Sour Gushers (Cranberry Apple, Grumpy Grape, Scary Cherry)
- Fruit Gushers Flavor Mixers (Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Peach, Orange Cherry)
- Super Sour Berry Fruit Gushers (Mixed Berry, Blueberry Grape, Raspberry Lemonade)
Are Gushers Vegetarian?
Yes, gushers are definitely vegetarian. The main difference between veganism and vegetarianism is that vegetarians just don’t consume any part of the animal itself, while vegans also don’t consume anything made or produced by the animal.
For example, dairy and eggs are animal-derived produces and are therefore not consumed by vegans.
All the controversy regarding certain ingredients being vegan or not doesn’t necessarily apply to your everyday vegetarian definition. Gushers are completely vegetarian.
Are Gushers Gluten-Free?
Gushers are also completely gluten-free. Most sugar candies don’t contain gluten as they mostly consist of pure sugar along with some artificial ingredients.
If you ever wonder about gluten-containing ingredients, keep an eye out for these; wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale. These are all gluten-containing ingredients that are used in some sweet treats.
Are Gushers Dairy-Free?
Gushers are dairy-free. Naturally, if they are generally considered vegan it automatically means that they do not contain dairy.
Are Gushers Kosher?
From our research, we couldn’t see any information that claims Gushers aren’t kosher, however, the packaging doesn’t mention anything about it and neither does any article.
If you have strict beliefs, consult with someone regarding this matter.
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