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Reading the ingredients of candy is becoming a habit as a vegan. I can spend up to 10-15 minutes trying to find new vegan candy prospects each time I go my grocery shopping. I’m not gonna lie, not much of the candy that I find can be added to my vegan candy list. I recently browsed the candy section at the store to find Mike and Ike, but are Mike and Ikes vegan?
Mike and Ike is not vegan. It contains confectioner’s glaze that is made from resin which lac beetles leave on tree branches. You can also find artificial colors where animal testing still occur. The last non-vegan ingredient that can be found is carnauba wax which contributes to deforestation and also exploation of workers. The sugar might also been bleached using bone char.
I always do proper research on each product which references. I hope you find this article useful to answer all your questions about Mike and Ike related to veganism.
Let’s not waste more time.
Below you can find a table of content aswell if you are interested in a specific section.
What Are Mike and Ikes?
Mike and Ike is a very popular fruit flavoured candy in the US, that have started to branch out into other flavours, including root beer.
The company has been around since 1940 when it was first introduced and created by a company known as ‘Just Born’ which was founded by a Russian immigrant known as Sam Born.
People often assume that Mike and Ike candy was named after its founders, but that isn’t the case at all. Mike and Ike are fictional food characters, and nobody knows for certain where the name came from.
For many years, the company resisted depicting Mike and Ike as physical characters up until the 1960s when the fruity mascots were revealed as well-dressed gentlemen.
One was moustachioed, dressed in a dapper yellow suit and yellow top hat, whereas the other was shorter and rounder, dressed in a green suit with a brown bowler hat. Nobody knew who was Mike, and who was Ike.
In 2012, after more than 70 years together, Mike and Ike “split up”. The company spent $15 on an advertising campaign based upon the premise of the two going their separate ways in order to appeal to a younger audience who seemingly loved the drama.
The year before, they spent just $125,000 on marketing, so this was big. It worked.
The two did eventually make up and get back together again, though, so don’t worry and the bromance does continue to flourish.
Mike And Ike Ingredients
Let’s take a look at the ingredients of Mike and Ike.
Mike and Ike Original (Corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch, malic acid, citric acid, fumaric acid, dextrin, sodium citrate, artificial and natural flavours, red 40, Yellow 5&6, blue 1, carnauba wax, confectioner’s glaze, MCTs).
Mike and Ike Mega Mix Chewy Candy (All ingredients here are the same as the Original Candy, with the addition of Fruit juice from concentrate (pear, orange, lime, lemon, cherry, strawberry)).
Mike and Ike Sour Mix Chewy Candy (Same ingredients as original flavor).
In this next section we’re going to look at a few non-vegan ingredients which are found in Mike and Ike candy.
The first, and most obvious ingredient found on our list today is what is known as confectioner’s glaze.
If you take a look at a Mike and Ike candy, you’ll see that it has a brilliant sheen on the outside. This is thanks to confectioner’s glaze.
Confectioner’s glaze gives the candies their shiny coating, but it contains shellac, which in turn is made from the resin from lac beetles.
Now, this is quite controversial because some vegans will consume products containing shellac, whereas others won’t.
To obtain the resin to product the shellac, the beetles themselves are not killed, but some vegans feel that they are exploited.
The resin is naturally excreted by the beetles and is left behind on tree branches, leaves, and any other surfaces which the beetles crawl upon.
The resin is then collected and is used to create shellac varnish, confectioner’s glaze, and various other products.
One of the main ingredients in Mike and Ike candy is Carnauba wax, which is another controversial ingredient in the vegan community.
On the outside, carnauba wax is vegan as it comes from carnauba palms in Northern Brazil, and is therefore plant-based.
But, and this is a big but, there are some issues. If you buy 100% natural Carnauba wax, it is indeed fully plant-based. However, some blends also utilize bees wax, which is obtained via the exploitation of bees.
As well as that, Carnauba plantation owners have been found to exploit their workers to the point of modern slavery, which raises huge ethical worries.
There are also environmental issues as deforestation for these plantations can occur.
To ensure that your Carnauba wax is indeed 100% vegan-friendly, make sure it is a part of the ‘Initiative for Responsible Carnauba’ which ensures that the wax has been produced and harvested under conditions which protect the environment and indeed the workers of the plantations.
The artificial colors does not contain any animal by-products itself, but the testing process does not align with veganism.
Red 40 for example, along with yellow 5 and 6, is tested on rats, mice, rabbits and some insects in labs before it goes on sale.
The testing is to make sure it’s safe for humans to consume, however using animals is an old and outdated way to do it.
Today there are computer simulations that can be used instead of animals.
So for now artificial colors will remain a non-vegan ingredient.
I also found some questionable ingredients that must be adressed.
As you are probably aware, cane sugar is indeed plant-based, so why wouldn’t it be suitable for vegans? After all, it’s not like honey which is obtained by keeping bees, so why would cane sugar be an issue?
Well, it isn’t the actual sugar itself that is the problem, the problem is that refined cane sugar is often refined via a process which utilizes bone char to filter the sugar, process it, and give it its brilliant white colour.
Bone char is made from dead animal bones which have been heated at extreme temperatures before they become charcoal.
Not all refined cane sugar is refined via bone char, but to be on the safe side vegans often stay clear of it and instead opt for products containing beet sugar instead, as this does not undergo the same refinement processes.
When it comes to citric acid, it might be made by GMO corn crops.
Corn is a common GMO crop in the US, but also in China.
A lot of citric acid is exported from China.
Modified Corn Starch
This might also be made from GMO corn and this makes this ingredient questionable because it’s not that eco-friendly.
Are Mike And Ikes Vegetarian?
With the same reasons for Mike and Ike not beeing vegan-friendly I would not say that it’s vegetarian-friendly.
Too many non-vegan and questionable ingredients.
Are Mike And Ikes Gluten-Free?
Yes all flavors are gluten-free.
Are Mike And Ikes GMO-Free?
Now this is an interesting question.
Justborn are open to this question and says that their products do contain GMOs, this includes Mike and Ike aswell.
You can read more at their website.
Are Mike And Ikes Healthy?
The most fair answer here would be probably no.
Eating sugar and artificial colors cannot be healthy.
Sugar contributes to obesity and heart disease.
Consume with moderation.
Vegan Alternative To Mike And Ike
We do have an amazing vegan alternative to Mike and Ike and it’s from the brand YumEarth.
Knowing if a product is vegan or not is still a challenge in 2021.
The best you can do is to learn about ingredients that is in the grey area for many websites. These include sugar, artificial colors and palm oil.
Beeing vegan is not a diet it’s a lifestyle. This mean that the product might not have ingredients that is not derived from animal, but that might not be enough to make the product vegan.
The production of ingredients must also be vegan-friendly for the product to be vegan.
So if you want more tips on real vegan candy then check out my vegan candy list.