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These memorable jelly beans are exceptionally iconic but you might want to know are Jelly Bellys vegan? Well, this is a task that’s worthy of a fair debate, but the answer is still no.
To their credit, Jelly Belly adds real fruit puree flavors into their jelly beans. But what else are they adding?
Since Jelly Belly has such a diverse array of products under their umbrella of products, we will focus on the immediate Jelly Belly jelly bean.
Each brand that they offer all contain different additives, so to be fair, these will be listed individually.
Let’s dive in!
What are Jelly Bellys?
Jelly Bellys are flavored jelly beans with a hard shell and chewy flavored center.
Jelly Bellys originally dates back to the early 1960s when the parent company Gustaf Goelitz started to manufacture jelly beans.
By 1965, the early governor of California Ronald Reagan began eating them. By 1973, he wrote a letter to the company honoring them as a key point in decision making.
It wasn’t until 1976 that the name Jelly Belly was rolled out as an official Jelly Belly product. At the start of the 1980s, they had developed 40 different flavors in their jelly bean collection.
When Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President of the United States in 1981, the popularity of Jelly Belly peaked. An incredible 3-5 tons of Jelly Bellys were shipped to the White House for his Inauguration party.
Not only was this the first jelly bean to go up in the Space Shuttle, but their popularity had also grown world-wide. The Jelly Belly line up of flavors is very diverse and is one of the few candies where flavors can be mixed together.
These combinations create new designs that are alike to banana bread, wedding cake, blueberry pancakes, and Italian Biscotti.
Among the breakdown of the current line-of of jelly beans they currently offer include:
- Jelly Belly Cotton candy
- Jelly Belly Jewel Mix
- Jelly Belly Bubble gum
- Jelly Belly Donut flavors
- Jelly Belly Sunkist Citrus mix
- Jelly Belly 20 flavors
- Jelly Belly Hot cinnamon
- Jelly Belly Strawberry cheesecake
- Jelly Belly Buttered popcorn
- Jelly Belly Very cherry
- Jelly Belly Fruit mix
- Jelly Belly Liquorice
- Jelly Belly Tropical
- Jelly Belly Ice cream mix
- Jelly Belly American classics
- Jelly Belly Sours
- Jelly Belly Juicy Pear
- Jelly Belly Lemon meringue pie
- Jelly Belly Cocktail classics
Other Jelly belly brands:
- Jelly Belly Bean Boozled
- Jelly Belly Flaming five
- Harry Potter (Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans)
- DC Comics
- Hello Kitty
Jelly Belly Ingredients
At first glance, the ingredient list that Jelly Belly openly admits is very straight forward. As you can see from this official list of ingredients, they have a lot of natural flavors as much as possible.
Jelly Belly 20 flavors mix
- Corn Syrup
- Modified Food Starch
- Citric Acid
- Phosphoric Acid
- Ascorbic Ccid
- Sodium Citrate
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Red #40
- Blue #1&2
- Yellow 5&6,
- Tapioca Dextrin
- Carnauba Wax
- Confectioners Glaze
- Pomegranate Puree’s or Concentrates
In addition to these ingedients, the next Jelly Belly flavors have additional ingedients that I have colllected.
Jelly Belly Jewel Mix
- Fumaric Acid
- Sodium Lactate,
- Acacia Gum
Jelly Belly Sunkist Citrus Mix/Jelly Belly Very Cherry
- Turmeric Color
Jelly Belly Tropical
- Malic Acid
- Sodium Lactate
Jelly Belly Sours
- Sodium Lactate
Jelly Belly Bean Boozled
- Lactic Acid,
- Sodium Lactate
Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans
- Malic Acid
- Turmeric Color
There are some non-vegan ingredients that I will explain in this section.
Some of the ingredients might look vegan at a first glance, but when doing some research they end up on the non-vegan list.
All of the deforestation and animal exploitation that occurs with the harvesting of carnauba wax is certainly not Vegan-friendly.
This is the shiny coating that goes on every Jelly Belly.
Using this material makes this a non-vegan product due to the ethical violations that are well documented about harvesting carnauba wax.
Now there is a Initiative for Responsible Carnauba with a goal to make the production sustainable and to preserve biodiversity.
However The Jelly Belly Candy Company is not a member.
Another ingredient that adds shine and a coating for these jelly beans is beeswax.
It’s a by-product of bees and goes against vegetarian and vegan ethics since it is also considered the diminishment of bee colonies for a wax product.
Anyone who says that no bees were harmed in the collection of beeswax is not telling you the full truth. Wax cells are created by bees for their survival, food storage, and egg development.
Once these are removed, bees cannot survive for long without a home to return to. A hive doesn’t rebuild itself overnight.
For this reason alone, beeswax is non-vegan and non-vegetarian.
All of the colors listed for Jelly Belly all contain the colors that are also used in animal testing. They aren’t testing Jelly Bellys on animals!
Knowing that cosmetics and skin creams with these colors are regularly tested on hairless animals is terrible. This is exploitation that just about includes every product we used.
It’s also an ethical one that isn’t solved so easily
Here we go some questionable ingredients.
They end up here because there is no certain way to know if they are vegan or not.
This is often a big warning flag since refined sugar often requires the use of bone char in the whitening process. Jelly Belly doesn’t expressly say what kind of sugar they use for their jelly beans.
Corn syrup is made from corn and doesn’t need bleaching to render sucrose that’s formed, so cane sugar is problematic.
Since there are so many cane sugar refineries around the world, most candy makers prefer refined cane sugar.
This allows the sugar mix to melt into a clear liquid that is then colored to suit the confectionary’s needs. With that being said, until there’s an announcement from Jelly Belly on the type of sugar they use, it’s obvious.
Jelly Bellys cannot claim to be Vegan if they cannot provide proof of sugar they use as a base ingredient.
It seems that not too many people realize that coconuts are collected using trained monkey labor. This is exploiting monkeys to harvest the coconuts in countries that harvest this fruit.
It’s listed in the questionable section since there is no way to tell where Jelly Belly is ordering their coconut supplies from.
On an ethical note, much of the world buy their coconuts from overseas companies.
As much as 30% of these come from Thailand.
According to the Thailand industry, 99% of the workforce is from trained Macaque monkeys.
Jelly Belly does not indicate where they purchase their coconuts from, so it leaves a looming ethical debate.
Citric Acid/Sodium Citrate
Citric acid and sodium citrate are also a debate since there can be GMOs used to create these ingredients.
Many argue whether the uses of GMOs are fully tested and safe for long-term use.
They are listed here so that you can decide if you feel GMO materials should be part of your views or not.
Natural and Artificial Flavors
Natural flavors must be listed when artificial flavors are added.
This is according to the ECFR (Electronic Code of Federal Regulations).
Jelly Belly does add many real natural flavors, but the artificial can be called into question. Flavors such as watermelon, strawberry, or vanilla are especially suspicious.
In some cases, some big brands use animal essential oils for their artificial flavors.
This can be debatable to some degree, which is why it’s listed as questionable.
Modified Food Starch
This is another ingredient that had been associated with GMOs.
There is no other way around this other than it remains an ethical division between Vegan and Vegetarians.
This is why it ends up as a questionable ingredient as well.
Most people do not know that Fumaric acid is banned in Europe.
It’s allowed in America by the FDA and is considered safe.
In Europe, it has been known to cause kidney damage and other health-related issues.
It’s not an ingredient that defies Vegan or vegetarian issues but health-wise, it can be a considered a health hazard.
Lactic acid is debatable because there is no way to tell if beet sugar or cane sugar is used to create lactic acid.
At times there can be a mixture that includes both.
Because refined cane sugar is used to create lactic acid and the risk of bone char beeing used in the bleaching process, this could potentionally not be vegan.
Because it cannot be proved where Jelly Belly gets their lactic acid, it’s hard to prove.
Are Jelly Bellys Vegetarian?
No, they are not vegetarian because they use carnauba and beeswax which both exploit animals.
The added ingredient of coconut is debatable along with artificial colors and GMOs.
But if you don’t mind the animal exploitation ingredients, then Jelly Bellys are vegetarian.
Are Jelly Bellys Gluten-Free?
The answer is most certainly yes, this product contains no gluten at all.
There are no peanuts used either, but at one time the Peanut Butter and jelly contains peanuts.
This product is now not available anymore.
Are Jelly Bellys GMO-Free?
This is a debated question that will haunt most products that use genetically modified starch, citric acid, and sodium citrate.
As the world supply is often made in China, their abuse of GMOs is not yet fully examined.
This is why this issue is still on the fence for most Vegans and vegetarians.
Are Jelly Bellys Healthy?
The clear answer is better defined when moderation is observed.
Too much sugar is bad for your health.
This leads to gaining weight if proper exercise isn’t followed to burn-off these amounts of Sugar in Jelly Belly beans.
If you eat small amounts, there is often no unhealthy aspect to them.
Eaten by the pound will certainly add weight to an individual in no time at all.
Vegan Alternative To Jelly Bellys
I found a great vegan alternative to Jelly Bellys and it is produced by YumEarth.
I wish there was a clear way to find a candy that doesn’t have objectionable ingredients.
While many websites are saying that Jelly Bellys are Kosher and Vegan-friendly, at least they get the Kosher part right.
Jelly Belly doesn’t take the time to list their full ingredients on their website.
They omit the part where carnauba and beeswax are used.
Their use of refined sugar is also a big tip-off.
At some point, there should be absolute answers provided on the sourcing of their products.
This is nearly impossible to ask from a company that’s enjoyed so much attention over their world-famous jelly beans.