Are Warheads Vegan? (List of Vegan Varieties)


Are warheads vegan? Are Warheads chewy cubes vegan?

Warheads is a popular brand of tart or sour candy made by Impact Confections.1 They’re marketed as an extreme candy and definitely live up to that claim. The candy product has been around for some time—in the US since the early 90s—and has been proven to be very popular especially among younger crowds.1,2

Are they vegan? Yes, the classic Warheads are 100% vegan. In fact, they’re among the most vegan-friendly friendly fruit-flavored candies you’ll encounter. Like most highly processed foods, they contain a number of additives, but all are vegan-friendly.

What we’ll do here is go over why Warheads are considered vegan by exonerating suspicious ingredients one a time. Then we’ll cover some of the newer varieties and whether they’re vegan-friendly.

Basic Ingredients (All Vegan)

Ingredients for the traditional Warheads (Extreme Sour Hard Candy) include:3

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Microencapsulated Malic Acid (Malic Acid, Hydrogenated Palm Oil)*
  • Citric Acid
  • Gum Acacia
  • Soybean Oil (Processing Aid)
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Corn Starch
  • Blue 1
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5

*As you can see, the microencapsulated malic acid contains palm oil, a substance that’s problematic for some vegans. The presence of this ingredient doesn’t render a food non-vegan by most standards, so I’m listing the original Warheads as vegan.

But, if you are a particularly prudent vegan, this is something to keep in mind.

Why Warheads Are Considered Vegan

Warheads Don’t Contain Confectioner’s Glaze or Beeswax

This is not to say that the presence of confectioner’s glaze would automatically render the food product unacceptable for all vegans. For example, it’s often put on produce to improve visual appeal. But, a lot of vegans want to avoid the stuff and it’s always nice to know when a candy product doesn’t contain it.

Confectioner’s glaze is an alcohol-based solution containing shellac.4

Shellac is a substance secreted on tree branches by lac bugs in the form of “sticklac.” The female lac bug, Kerria lacca, sucks sap from the tree and secretes sticklac wherein shellac is filtered out. Sticklac is scraped off of tree branches so the shellac can be used in various food and non-food products.4

The bugs make mini structures of sticklac often referred to as “cocoons”—though, the structures aren’t considered cocoons in the entomological sense of the word.4

So, it’s composed largely of sap, but because it’s harvested from bugs, it’s considered a form of animal exploitation. It’s been estimated to take about 50,000 to 300,000 bugs to make a single kilogram of shellac.5-7

As you can imagine, the harvesting process (involving scraping) results in lots of crushed lac bugs. So much so, that the bugs have to be filtered out with a canvas bag along with tree bark, etc.

Then there’s the potential ingredient, beeswax. According to PETA, beeswax can be used in certain candy like Swedish Fish.8

Beeswax is a common ingredient in food production as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Like other waxes, it’s used as a glazing agent, improving the visual appeal of the candy as well as adding surface protection.

It’s what’s called an edible film. There are several edible films used in candy making some of which are vegan.

Animal-derived edible films include beeswax, whey protein, casein protein, and chitosan (shellfish).9

Vegan edible films include carnauba wax, alginate (gum), and zein (corn).10

Instead of beeswax, Warheads make use of carnauba wax, a completely vegan ingredient.

Carnauba wax, also known as Brazil wax or palm wax, is derived from the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera.11

Therefore, it’s 100% vegan-friendly.

Warheads Don’t Contain Carmine

Carmine aka Red 4 is a non-vegan food coloring agent. Specifically, it’s derived from a certain type of beetle.12

The bright-red pigment is obtained from carminic acid found abundantly in certain bugs.13

Not only is carmine insect-derived, but its method of production can involve other non-vegan substances like egg white, fish glue, and gelatin.14

In contrast, Warheads contain Red 40 aka Allura red. This stuff is petroleum derived, and can even be derived from strawberries.15

The Vegan Status of Other Warheads Varieties

Since the production of the original Warheads, the brand has put out a number of other products all with the same extreme sour taste. In addition to hard candy, the Warheads brand in recent times encompasses:16

  • Warheads Extreme Sour Hard Candy Mini Size (previously known as “Juniors”)
  • Warheads SuperSour Spray
  • Warheads Sour Jelly
  • Warheads SuperSour DoubleDrops
  • Warheads Sour Chewy Cubes
  • Warheads Sour Dippers
  • Warheads Sour Coolers
  • Warheads Sour Twists

Not all of these are still available, but we’ll go over the most common ones you’ll run across.

Are Warheads Chewy Cubes Vegan?

It’s usually a red flag when a candy has a chewy texture, as there are a few popular animal-derived ingredients that tend to be used to achieve elasticity in candy.

Are they vegan? Yes, Warheads Chewy Cubes are 100% vegan-friendly. They don’t make use of gelatin, egg whites, or any other animal-derived ingredients to achieve their texture. They don’t contain beeswax, confectioner’s glaze, or carmine.

Ingredients for Warheads Chewy Cubes include:17

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Corn Starch
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Citric Acid
  • Tartaric Acid
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6
  • Blue 1
  • Artificial Color
  • Natural And Artificial Flavors
  • Fumaric Acid
  • Sodium Citrate

Are Warheads Warms Vegan?

No, Warheads Worms are not vegan. The ingredients vary (perhaps by country), but one variation contains gelatin, and the other contains lactose. They also contain a number of other potentially problematic ingredients like glycerin and glycerides.

Version 1 (European)

Ingredients for Warheads Worms include:18

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Wheat Flour
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Lactose
  • Malic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Palm Fat
  • Lactic Acid
  • Sodium Lactate
  • Salt
  • Trisodium Citrate
  • Mono And Diglycerides
  • Artificial Flavours
  • Glycerin
  • Artificial Colours, E133, E129 & E102

Unlike lactic acid, you can be fairly certain that lactose is derived from dairy.19

Version 2 (American)

Ingredients include:20

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Modified corn starch
  • Gelatin
  • Citric acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Red 40
  • Yellows 5 and 6
  • Blue 1
  • Natural and artificial flavors

Are Warheads Sour Twist vegan?

No, Warheads Sour Twists also contain lactose.

Ingredients include:21

  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Wheat Flour
  • Modified Corn Starch,
  • Lactose
  • Malic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Palm Fat
  • Lactic Acid
  • Sodium Lactate
  • Salt
  • Trisodium Citrate
  • Mono and Diglycerides
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Glycerin
  • Artificial Color, Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5

That’s it for Warheads. Thanks for reading.

You may also want to check out some of my other candy articles here:

References

  1. Frauenfelder, Mark. Gross National Product, Wired, June 1999.
  2. “Let It Rip: A New Building for Foreign Candy”. Sioux County Index-Reporter. New Century Press. 29 February 2012.
  3. Warheads Extreme Sour Hard Candy. All City Candy – https://allcitycandy.com/products/warheads-extreme-sour-hard-candy-1-oz-bag
  4. Smolinske, Susan C. (1992). Handbook of Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Excipients. CRC Press. p. 347. ISBN 0-8493-3585-X.
  5. Bangali Baboo; D. N. Goswami (2010). Processing, Chemistry and Application of Lac. New Delhi, India: Chandu Press. p. 4.
  6. Yacoubou, Jeanne (30 November 2010). “Q & A on Shellac”. Vegetarian Resource Group. http://www.vrg.org/blog/2010/11/30/q-a-on-shellac/
  7. Velji, Vijay (2010). “Shellac Origins and Manufacture”. shellacfinishes.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQcQ0yuekZ0&t=5m23s
  8. Which Candies Are Vegan? https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/which-candies-are-vegan/
  9. Buonocore GG, A Conte, and MA Del Nobile. Use of mathematical model to describe the barrier properties of edible films. Journal of Food Science 70(2):E142–E147, 2005.
  10. Perez-Gago MB, M Serra, M Alonso, M Mateos, and MA del Rio. Eff ect of whey protein- and hydroxyproply methylcellulosebased edible composite coatings on color change of fresh apples. Postharvest Biology and Technology 36(1):77–85, 2005.
  11. Steinle, J. Vernon (September 1936). “Carnauba wax: an expedition to its source”. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry. 28 (9): 1004–1008.
  12. Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be Exterminated, Says CSPI. https://cspinet.org/news/bug-based-food-dye-should-be-exterminated-says-cspi-20060501
  13. Carminic Acid https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carminic_acid
  14. Carmine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine#Production
  15. Potera, C., 2010. Diet and nutrition: the artificial food dye blues. Environ Health Perspect. 118 (10), A428–A431.
  16. Warheads (candy). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warheads_(candy)
  17. Warheads Sour Chewy Cubes Candy, 8 Oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Warheads-Sour-Chewy-Cubes-Candy-8-Oz/33784655
  18. Warheads Worms. https://auntieammiescandy.com/products/american-sweets/warheads-worms/
  19. Lactose. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose#Occurrence_and_isolation
  20. New 801751 Warheads Worms 5Oz Bag Asst Flvrs (12-Pack) Chewy Candy Cheap Wholesale Discount Bulk Candy Chewy Candy Acne Wash. https://www.walmart.com/ip/New-801751-Warheads-Worms-5Oz-Bag-Asst-Flvrs-12-Pack-Chewy-Candy-Cheap-Wholesale-Discount-Bulk-Candy-Chewy-Candy-Acne-Wash/879315466
  21. Warheads Sour Twists Candy – 4-oz. Bag. All City Candy – https://allcitycandy.com/products/warheads-sour-twists-4oz-bag-032134238059-4

Drew Davis

Hi! I'm Drew and this is the place where I nerd out about vegan and plant-based diets. I have a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Alabama and have taken dozens of classes in areas like organic and biochemistry, food science, medical nutrition therapy, nutritional genomics, and vegetarian diets. I'm still learning every day, and on this blog, I'll be sharing everything I discover about vegan diets as I go.

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