Are Nerds Vegan 2023? All Flavors Reviewed

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For those of you who happen to have a sweet tooth, it’s highly likely that Nerds candy will have been sampled by you at some point in the past. Instantly recognizable thanks to their small shape and the fact that each box only contains 2 of each flavor kept separate in a separate compartment, Nerds are enjoyed by people from all walks of life, but are Nerds vegan?

Nerds are not vegan for a number of reasons, the main one is because all flavors contain some form of artificial colors which is still beeing tested on animals. Nerds Gummy Clusters, Nerds Rainbow Rope, Nerds Very Berry Rope and Nerds Tropical Rope contains gelatin. Confectioner’s glaze is another non-vegan ingredient that can we found in some of the flavors.

I made a table below to show the vegan status of all Nerds flavors.

FlavorVegan Status
Nerds Grape & StrawberryNo, it contains Carmine and Artificial Colors.
Nerds Watermelon & CherryNo, it contains Artificial Colors.
Nerds RainbowNo, it contains Carmine and Artificial Colors.
Big Chewy NerdsNo, it contains Artificial Colors.
Sour Big Chewy NerdsNo, it contains Artificial Colors.
Nerds Gummy ClustersNo, it contains Gelatin, Carmine and Artificial Colors.
Nerds Rainbow Rope No, it contains Gelatin, Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin), Carmine and Artificial Colors.
Nerds Very Berry RopeNo, it contains Gelatin, Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin), Carmine and Artificial Colors.
Nerds Tropical RopeNo, it contains Gelatin, Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin), Carmine and Artificial Colors.

Nerd Ingredients [Analyzed]

Two flavors of nerds

Let’s take a look at the ingredients.

Below I have highlighted if an ingredient is questionable or non-vegan.

  • Sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Corn Syrup
  • Corn Starch
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Water
  • Malic Acid
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Carmine Color
  • Artificial Colors (Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Red 40, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6)
  • Citric Acid
  • Tapioca Dextrin
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Gelatin
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Apple Juice Concentrate
  • Acacia (Gum Arabic)
  • Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin)
  • Glycerin

I think it’s important to note that Nerds may contain egg.

So if you are allergic to eggs then you might not want to consume Nerds candy.

Non-Vegan Ingredients

To show you precisely why Nerds are not considered vegan-friendly, we’ll now take a look at some of the non-vegan ingredients used to make Nerds and will be looking at why they’re off the menu for those adhering to vegan lifestyles.


Gelatin is found in some varieties of Nerds, including Nerds Rope. Gelatin is used to give products a jelly-like consistency and as a setting agent.

It is made by boiling animal parts (usually pigs or cows) such as hooves, bones, skin, tendons, muscle, fat, and cartilage.

Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin)

Confectioner’s Glaze, also known as Lac-Resin, is used by confectioners to give candies and food products a shiny and glossy glaze.

Lac Resin is found in Nerds and it is NOT vegan friendly due to the fact that it is made from secretions from Lac bugs.

Carmine Color

Carmine color is sometimes labelled as Red 4, not to be confused with Red 40, is made from cochineal insect bodies which are boiled in ammonia or calcium carbonate.

The end result is a vibrant red color which is used to color culinary ingredients. Nice, huh?

Artificial Colors

Artificial colors such as Red 40, Yellows 5 and 6, and Blue 1, are not derived from animals, but they are made in a lab and are tested on animals. Needless to say, animal testing ethically goes against everything that veganism stands for and subsequently any product that is tested on animals is boycotted by vegans.

One top of the animal testing, there are also health concerns over artificial colors. Studies have linked artificial colors to health issues including:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • ADHD in children
  • Mood swings
  • Asthma and hives
  • Suppression of the immune system

Questionable Ingredients

Corn & Citric Acid

Corn and citric acid are also considered questionable because non-organic variants are produced using GMOs. GMOs can potentially have negative impacts on the environment and on living creature’s natural habitats.

For this reason, GMO ingredients must be considered questionable in the world of vegan cuisine.


Sugar is considered questionable ingredients due to the fact that some companies will use bone char to filter and refine the sugar.

Bone char is literally charred animal bones, which would make it non-vegan.

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is another questionable ingredient, due to the fact that there are ethical and environmental concerns about this product.

Some carnauba wax plantation owners have been found to be exploiting their workers to points bordering on modern day slavery.

There are also environmental concerns as carnauba palms grow in Brazil and plantations could result in deforestation of the Amazon.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

The reason why natural and artificial flavors can be questionable when used in Nerds is because these can sometimes be produced from plants, and sometimes from animals, and it is difficult to know which is which.

Vegan Alternatives To Nerds

I would recommend YumEarth when it comes to a vegan alternative to Nerds.

You can check them out at Amazon.


Open box of Nerds candy on a table

Are Nerds Vegetarian?

Nerds Grape & Strawberry, Nerds Watermelon & Cherry, Nerds Rainbow, Big Chewy Nerds and Sour Big Chewy Nerds might be vegetarian since the diet is not as strict as the vegan diet the rest of the flavors contain gelatin.

Does Nerds Candy Have Gelatin In Them?

Yes. As we just mentioned, certain varieties such as Nerds rope, contain gelatin which of course makes them unsuitable for vegans, and vegetarians. It also means that they are not halal or kosher.

What Color Nerds Are Vegan?

No color varieties of Nerds are truly considered vegan as, as well as containing certain ingredients derived from animals, other ingredients may be produced via the exploitation of humans or animals, or may be contributing to climate change and damage to the environment.


As you can see, despite being delicious and uniquely sweet treats, if you are adhering to a vegan diet or lifestyle, Nerds contain far too many non-vegan ingredients and questionable ingredients for them to be considered vegan friendly.

If you are looking for my vegan candy I do have a vegan candy list that you can check out.

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