Chupa Chups is a Spanish brand of lollipop sold all around the world. The brand was founded back in 1958, so it’s been around for a few decades. Because it’s been around for so long, a lot of vegans grew up eating the tasty treats and want to know if they have to give them up after switching to a 100% plant-based diet.
Are they vegan? Like most candy lines, some Chupa Chups flavors are vegan, while others contain animal-derived ingredients. The plain fruit flavors tend to be vegan, while the variety containing cream or vanilla usually contain dairy.
What we’ll do here is cover the specific flavors that qualify as vegan, and those that are off-limits for 100% plant-based eaters.
Again, most of these are fruit-flavored. If you read the article on Dum Dums*, you’ll notice that Chupa Chups contain both far fewer and much higher quality ingredients. It’s basically just fruit puree (from real fruit) along with organic acids and a few natural flavorings/colorings.
The orange flavor simply contains sugar, glucose syrup and blend of fruit puree concentrates including cherry, apple, pineapple, raspberry, lemon, lime, strawberry, peach, orange, banana, blueberry, blackberry, watermelon, mango, and kiwi. It also contains lactic acid (LA), malic acid, and citric acid along with flavoring and paprika extract for color.1
A Note on Lactic Acid (LA)
LA is a bit of a grey area in the vegan community and is mentioned in PETA’s list of animal-derived ingredients.2
It’s an organic acid found abundantly in animal tissues like milk, and muscles, so it can be derived from non-vegan sources. However, industrially, it’s usually produced via bacterial fermentation.3
It can be completely vegan-friendly—it just depends on how the galactose (the sugar used to feed the bacteria) was sourced because it can be derived from dairy products or veggies like beets.4
But, the presence of LA doesn’t render the candy non-vegan by most standards. Vegans usually don’t scrutinize additives too heavily if there’s no way of knowing how the compounds were derived.
The strawberry flavor basically contains the same ingredients but with beetroot for color (instead of paprika).5
As you you’ll see with the flavors to come, Chupa Chups only use natural substances like spice extracts for coloring agents. This is great for vegans, because some artificial colorants, like Red 4 or carmine, are derived from non-vegan sources.
You may see some names you’re unfamiliar with in term so coloring agents, but you can rest assured that they’re vegan-friendly.
Apple uses a similar fruit puree concentrate with curcumin as a coloring agent.6
Cherry contains a fruit concentrate with raspberry, cherry, apple, pineapple, lemon, lime, strawberry, banana, peach, orange, blueberry, mango, blackberry, watermelon, and kiwi. It also contains acids and flavorings and uses beetroot with curcumin for color.7
Raspberry contains fruit puree concentrate, acids, flavorings, and anthocyanins for color.8
Anthocyanins are the pigments found in blue-red or purple fruits like grapes and blueberries.
If you’re a fan of the cola flavor, you’re in luck. This variety only contains sugar, glucose syrup, organic acids (LA, malic acid, and citric acid), along with flavoring and coloring agents.9
Sulfite ammonia caramel is listed in the ingredients, but as we’ll cover below, caramel color is usually okay for vegans. It’s not derived from actual caramel, but rather a browning reaction (or caramelization) of non-lactose simple sugars.
Here’s where the trouble starts.
Strawberries and Cream
This variety contains the usual ingredients (glucose syrup, sugar, fruit concentrate, etc.) but also adds milk products to the mix.10
This particular flavor contains whey permeate, which is a cost-efficient dairy replacement for sweet whey powder, demineralized whey powder, and lactose in numerous food applications.
The strawberries and cream flavor also contains whole milk powder. Whole milk is used in processed foods to improve flavor, mouthfeel, and texture.
Anything chocolate or vanilla flavored should be a red flag. Unfortunately, this product is no exception. This one contains glucose syrup and sugar along with cocoa mass, cocoa butter, flavorings, curcumin (for color), whey permeate, and whole milk powder.11
Interestingly, they used cocoa butter here, which is the saturated fat content naturally present in cacao beans. A lot of times, when cocoa butter is listed in the ingredients, it’s a good sign that the food product may be dairy-free because the cocoa butter implies that milkfat may not be needed.
Unfortunately, this particular candy product uses both milk fat and cocoa butter.
Real caramel is almost always off-limits for vegans, but caramel-flavored treats can surprise you from time to time. Caramel-flavored candies often make use of caramelized sugar from non-lactose simple sugars (glucose, etc.) along with caramel color or ammonia caramel—two artificial colorants that tend to be vegan-friendly.
The browning reaction used to produce caramelized sugar and caramel color can be performed on any simple sugar.
Unfortunately, simple sugars are not the only potential dairy product. As for caramel-flavored Chupa Chups, this flavor also contains whey permeate and whole milk powder.12
There’s no “cream” in the description, so I initially got my hopes up for this flavor. Unfortunately, it contains whole milk powder along with the usual fruit puree concentrate, acids, flavorings, and coloring agents.13
As mentioned above, the presence of vanilla is often a red flag. Vanilla itself is 100% vegan as it’s simply a substance derived from vanilla beans or chemically synthesized. But vanilla-flavored food products often come packaged with milk products—mostly because milk proteins provide a nice smooth texture to food products.
Anyway, that’s it for the vegan status of Chupa Chups. Thanks for reading.
You may also want to check out the following related articles:
- Orange Mini: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/orange-mini
- Animal-derived Ingredients Resource | Living. https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/
- H. Benninga (1990): “A History of Lactic Acid Making: A Chapter in the History of Biotechnology”. Volume 11 of Chemists and Chemistry. Springer, ISBN 0792306252, 9780792306252
- Galactose Sources. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactose#Sources
- Strawberry: Chupa Chups. https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/fruit/strawberry
- Apple: Chupa Chups. https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/fruit/apple
- Cherry: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/fruit/cherry
- Raspberry: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/the-best-of/raspberry
- Cola: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/the-best-of/cola
- Strawberry-cream: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/milky/strawberry-cream
- Cacao-vanilla: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/milky/cacao-vanilla
- Caramel: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/milky/caramel
- Raspberry-vanilla: Chupa Chups https://www.chupachups.co.uk/products/the-best-of/raspberry-vanilla