The question of whether or not this candy is vegan, is no laughing matter. Laffy Taffy is a popular brand of taffy first produced in the 1970s, though initially marketed as flavored caramel. The “caramels” were actually fruit-flavored taffy squares.1
The candies are small (about 45 grams or 1.5 ounces) and are available in a wide variety of artificial fruit flavors Strawberry, Banana, Grape, Green Apple, and Blueberry.
A lot of vegans grew up eating the tasty treats and want to know if they can continue to do so after switching to a 100% plant-based diet.
Is it vegan? The original Laffy Taffy and Laffy Taffy Ropes are vegan, while the Stretchy and Tangy line of products are always non-vegan due to the presence of egg albumin, a protein found abundantly in egg whites.
Vegan-Friendly Laffy Taffy Varieties
These contain sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, malic acid, mono- and diglycerides*, hydrogenated plant oils (cottonseed), salt, soy lecithin (an emulsifier) natural flavor, and artificial colors (Blue 1 and Red 40).2
*Mono- and diglycerides are derivatives of glycerin, which is a compound that some vegans try to avoid. It’s mentioned throughout PETA’s list of animal-based and potentially animal-based ingredients.3
But, these compounds can be sourced from both plants and animals, and are usually 100% vegan-friendly.
For this reason, foods containing the products are not considered to be non-vegan by most standards.
But, if you’re a particularly prudent vegan, you may want to avoid the stuff. They’re very common in processed foods because they help emulsify ingredients (i.e. they help fat and water mix), and serve as surfactants which makes candies easier to work with.
These contain corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, mono- and diglycerides, salt, soy lecithin, yellow 5*, and natural flavor.4
*Laffy Taffys may use natural flavors, but they don’t boast of all natural food colorants. But, Yellows 5, aka tartrazine, falls in the class of azo dyes (a group of food colorants that are produced from petroleum). Thus, it’s always considered vegan.5
Ingredients for these include sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, mono- and diglycerides, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, salt, Red 40*, and natural flavor.6
*Red 40, or Allura Red, is also a type of azo dye, so it’s vegan-friendly. It often gets confused with Red 4, due to the similar color and name. Unlike Red 40, Red 4 (aka carmine) is a food dye that’s derived from beetles—so, it’s mostly considered non-vegan.3,7
Carmine is made from carminic acid which is the compound that’s actually sourced from the beetles.8,9
Not all vegans choose to avoid insect-derived products like carmine.10 But, thankfully, it’s not an issue for this particular candy product.
These seem to be the same as the strawberry kind, but with different natural flavors.
They contain corn syrup, sugar, malic acid, mono- and diglycerides, palm oil, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, natural flavor, salt, soy lecithin, and Red 40.11
So, no carmine here either.
This one contains corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, malic acid, mono- and diglycerides, hydrogenated plant oils (also cottonseed), salt, soy lecithin, natural flavor, Blue 1*, and Yellow 5.12
*Blue 1, or Brilliant Blue FCF, is a common synthetic organic compound used as a blue dye in processed foods, medications, supplements, and cosmetics.13
It’s not an azo dye, but it is vegan because it’s synthesized chemically without the use of animal-derived precursors.14
These contain corn syrup, sugar, malic acid, palm oil*, mono- and diglycerides, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, salt, natural flavor, and Blue 1.15
*Palm oil is a controversial ingredient in the vegan community. Many vegans like to avoid the stuff due to the detrimental effects resulting from its cultivation.16-19
But, by and large, the presence of palm oil doesn’t render a food non-vegan by most standards.20
Laffy Taffy Ropes (All Flavors)
These are basically made from the same ingredients, they’re just formed into long skinny ropes instead of small, squares.
For example, the cherry contains corn syrup and sugar, palm oil, malic acid, mono- and diglycerides, cottonseed oil, salt, lecithin (soy), natural flavor, and Red 40.21
So, no problems here.
Non-Vegan Laffy Taffy Varieties
Interestingly, it’s not the chocolate this time. Chocolate Laffy Taffys are hard to come by in stores, but they are completely vegan-friendly.
In this case, it’s the Sretchy and Tangy variety which contain egg albumin.22
Albumen is another word for egg whits, the portion of the egg that’s made up of water and protein.23
Albumin (with an “i”), on the other hand, is the actual protein content of the egg white that’s extracted out for use in food.23
Like gelatin, another non-vegan ingredient often used in candy making, albumin is a common aerator that contributes to the chewy texture of some candy.24
So, anything with albumin in it, will always be non-vegan.
That’s it for the vegan status of Laffy Taffy. Thanks for reading.
You may also want to check out the following related articles:
- Laffy Taffy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffy_Taffy
- Grape – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/mini-grape
- Animal-derived Ingredients Resource: Living. https://www.peta.org/living/food/animal-ingredients-list/
- Banana Mini – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/mini-banana
- Yellow 5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartrazine
- Strawberry – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/mini-strawberry
- Bug-Based Food Dye Should Be Exterminated, Says CSPI. https://cspinet.org/news/bug-based-food-dye-should-be-exterminated-says-cspi-20060501
- Carminic Acid https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carminic_acid
- Carmine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine#Production
- The Great Honey Debate. https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/07/why-vegans-can-t-decide-whether-they-re-allowed-to-eat-honey.html
- Cherry – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/mini-cherry
- Sour Apple – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/mini-sour-apple
- Brilliant Blue FCF. https://iacmcolor.org/color-profile/brilliant-blue-fcf-fdc-blue-no-1/
- El Ali, Bassam M.; Bassam El Ali; Ali, Mohammad Farahat (2005). Handbook of industrial chemistry: organic chemicals. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-141037-3.
- Wild Blue Raspberry – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/mini-blue-raspberry
- Clay, Jason (2004). World Agriculture and the Environment. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-55963-370-3.
- “Palm oil: Cooking the Climate”. Greenpeace. 8 November 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20100410195818/http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/palm-oil_cooking-the-climate
- “Researchers warn against high emissions from oil palm expansion in Brazil”. phys.org. 13 November 2013. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113213852.htm
- Rosenthal, Elisabeth (31 January 2007). “Once a Dream Fuel, Palm Oil May Be an Eco-Nightmare”. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/business/worldbusiness/31biofuel.html
- General Faqs. https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/general-faqs
- Ropes, Cherry – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/rope-cherry
- Cherry, Stretchy and Tangy – Laffy Taffy. https://www.laffytaffy.com/stretchy-tangy-cherry
- Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 250). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011. ISBN-10: 0-538-73498-1
- Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique For the Artisan Confectioner (Page 356). Peter Greweling-Ben Fink – John Wiley & Sons – 2013