Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? Why it’s Complicated 2024

By Hannah Whittaker RD, PGDip | Aug 31, 2023

Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? Why it’s Complicated. So, in this blog I will take you back to them childhood days spent at the cinema or on the playground and answer this puzzling question.

These sour sweets have a zesty kick, mainly thanks to tartaric acid and citric acid, which are some of the main ingredients. But as a vegan parent or mum-to-be you might be wondering if you can share this sweet and sour nostalgia with your children. You might also want to indulge in it yourself, without compromising your dietary ethics.

Well, the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. It depends on where in the world you are and what ingredients are used. In this guide, I’ll take a closer look at Sour Patch Kids and whether they’re vegan or not.

Sour Patch Kids history

Sour Patch Kids were developed in the 1970s and at this time they were called Mars Men due to the interest in this time with UFO and Mars landings. In the 1980’s, they changed their name to Sour Patch Kids due to the popularity of the then Cabbage Patch Kids. 

Why are Sour-Patch Kids not all vegan?

United States and Canada

In the United States and Canada, Sour Patch Kids are manufactured by Mondelez International. According to the packaging, the ingredient list includes sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, tartaric acid, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors yellow 5, and red 40.

It’s felt that in the USA and Canada, the natural flavours in Sour Patch Kids ‘may contain’ gelatin derived from animal collagen. Gelatin is not vegan and is used as a gelling agent in many sweets. The company also hasn’t publicly confirmed whether its natural flavours are from animal sources or not. 

The good news here is that overall we think that Original Sour Patch Kids in the United States & Canada do not contain any obvious animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin, which is commonly used as a gelling agent in gummy sweets. They also do not undergo animal testing, another concern for strict vegans.

United Kingdom

In the UK, the candy is also produced by Mondelez (during online research it does seem that Cadbury has a hand in it somewhere too), but these are made with different ingredients to those in the USA & Canada. In the UK Sour Patch Kids contain animal-derived ingredients.  Here’s a closer look. 

The ingredients in the UK 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

If you follow a vegan diet and live in the UK, you may be disappointed to learn that Sour Patch Kids aren’t entirely vegan. The candy contains ingredients derived from animals – gelatin and lutein. In the USA it isn’t clear whether the ingredients have derivatives of animal products contained. Confusing isn’t it!

So what do you do when you are vegan and craving that sweet treat?

Let’s take a closer look at the controversial ingredients in Sour Patch Kids. 

Are sour patch kids vegan? Why it's Complicated 2023

What animal ingredients are in Sour patch kids

There may be some animal ingredients that you weren’t aware of;

1. Sugar and the Use of Bone Char

Many strict vegans avoid sugar that is bleached using bone char, which is made from animal bones. The sugar industry can be a little secretive about which sugar suppliers use bone char, making it challenging to determine if the sugar in Sour Patch Kids is vegan-friendly.

2. Artificial Flavors and Colors

Another point of concern is the use of artificial flavors and artificial colors. These ingredients are synthetic but can occasionally be tested on animals, which is considered animal cruelty by many vegans. 

3. Corn Syrup, Invert Sugar, and Other Ingredients

Corn syrup and invert sugar are also on the ingredients list. While these may seem like plant-based ingredients, some people argue that the use of genetically modified corn and the environmental impact of such crops are not in line with a vegan philosophy. This is all down to personal choice. 

4. Palm Oil and Environmental Concerns

The UK variant of Sour Patch Kids also contains palm oil. A controversial ingredient due to its environmental impact, including deforestation and threats to animal habitats.

Pregnancy craving for sweets

Pregnancy can bring about various food cravings. For some mums to be sweets are at the top of their list. I know I had sugar cravings during pregnancy. I just need that sugar fix as I felt it would keep my energy levels up (especially during the first trimester). This leads us to the complex question: Are Sour Patch Kids Vegan? Why It’s Complicated

While indulging in the occasional sweet treat can be satisfying, keeping track of the sugar intake is vital. Consuming too much sugar during pregnancy can lead to excessive weight gain. This could then cause pregnancy complications such as raised blood sugar levels, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. 

Remembering that not all sweet foods are created equal, and recognising that some are healthier than others, is essential.

Try to opt for natural sweeteners such as that from fruit. Also try to limit processed foods as best as you can. Eating a regular, balanced diet during pregnancy will ensure the best health for you and your baby. If you are struggling with your nutrition during pregnancy then get in touch for support.

Get in touch for vegan pregnancy support 

Keeping energy levels up during pregnancy

5 Top Tips for Keeping Energy Levels Up During Pregnancy

  • Incorporate Natural Sweeteners: Use dates, ripe bananas, or raisins in your meals to satisfy sugar cravings in place of sweets. 
  • Smart Snacking: Opt for nuts, seeds, and fruits to stay energized. Keep an eye on portion sizes to avoid excessive calorie intake.
  • Listen to Your Body: Especially during the first trimester, when fatigue is often at its peak. Make sure to rest when you need it.
  • Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods: Eat leafy greens, whole grains, and beans to boost your energy levels and provide vital nutrients.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help combat fatigue and keep your body functioning optimally. 

If you can, try to engage in physical activity as it can also improve your energy levels. Make sure you consult with a healthcare practitioner if you haven’t exercised prior to pregnancy.

Does craving sweets during pregnancy mean boy or girl

During pregnancy, there are many hormonal changes that your body goes through. However, there is no evidence to say that if you crave sweets you can predict your baby’s gender. A sonograph is your best bet and even these aren’t always 100% accurate. The evidence shows that it can be anywhere between 95-99% accurate.

Alternative Vegan Sweets

If Are sour patch kids Vegan? Why it’s complicated leaves you hesitant, there are many vegan sweets that are free of non-vegan ingredients and animal products. These usually make use of natural flavors, plant-based ingredients like beet sugar, and vegan-friendly food colors like paprika extract. 

So, are sour patch kids vegan?

The question of whether Sour Patch Kids are vegan isn’t a straightforward one especially if you are trying to find easy options for your family. It just depends on where in the world you are and what ingredients are used. 

If you’re in the United States or Canada, you may want to just double-check the list of ingredients. It may not always be vegan. But if you’re in the UK, the consensus is no sour patch kids aren’t vegan.

Just a little caveat; a lot of the sweets in the UK may now be imported from USA so may be worth checking these too. 

During your vegan pregnancy, if the craving for something sweet and sour hits you, remember to indulge only occasionally. Try to aim for natural sources of sweetness when possible. This ensures you can satisfy your cravings while staying true to your ethical and dietary choices.

So, while the nostalgia attached to Sour Patch Kids is tempting, ensuring they align with your vegan lifestyle might require a bit of homework. But don’t worry; there are plenty of vegan-friendly sour candies  out there that can help you relive those sweet childhood memories and share with your family. 

Hannah x 

Get in contact if you need support. 

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at | | Website | + posts

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.


  • Registered Dietitian
  • First Class Degree in Nutrition


  • Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
  • Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
  • Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition



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