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Are Tootsie Rolls Vegan?
Here’s Everything You Should Know

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 4, 2021

What exactly is a Tootsie Roll? It's not taffy, and it's not caramel. It's not chocolate either.

This enigmatic and mysterious candy has been a mainstay in Halloween buckets and candy bowls in America for decades.

We might not know what exactly it is, but do we know if it's vegan?

Let's take a closer look and find out.

Are Tootsie Products Vegan?

Crossed Out Tootsie Rolls

No, Tootsie Rolls are not vegan. There seems to be some confusion online, and the question is asked of search engines enough that I'm writing this article, but even a cursory glance at the ingredients list should have been enough to answer this question.

All Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Rolls products such as Tootsie Pops contain milk and other animal-derived ingredients.

Milk is not vegan because it comes from cows mistreated horribly to produce enough for the good ol' white upper lipped and always the thirsty USA.

Tootsie Roll Ingredients:

  • Sugar, Corn Syrup
  • Palm Oil
  • Condensed Skim Milk
  • Cocoa
  • Whey
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial
  • Natural Flavors

6 Problematic Ingredients

Condensed Milk with palm oil and Whey

1. Condensed Skimmed Milk

Condensed skimmed milk is just regular milk with some of the water boiled out of it to produce a thicker liquid that is also sweetened with a generous serving of sugars. It is most often used in desserts, but you should keep an eye out for it in candies like Tootsie Rolls too.

2. Whey

Whey is most often used as an excellent way to pack some protein into a product, but it is also included for its texture. In candies like Tootsie Rolls, you'll find that the reason whey is used is to soften the consistency and produce that gooey chew that everyone loves. Whey is made from milk and is not vegan.

3. Palm Oil

While palm oil is plant-based and could technically be labeled as vegan, the industry's harmful products and practices exclude it for most vegans. The deforestation and direct threat to species like Orangutans caused by the palm industry are enough for me to say it isn't vegan. Tootsie Rolls and other big candy companies could easily use an alternative oil.

 

Sugar on table

4. Sugar

We have some weird labeling laws and issues in America, and white granulated sugar showcases this perfectly.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether white sugar is non-vegan. Some companies use bone char in the whitening process, which is not vegan.

The sugar in Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops may have been filtered through animal bone.

5. Artificial Colors

Another ingredient that is wholly synthetic and by all realistic expectations should be vegan. Unfortunately, that isn't the case on closer examination.

The reason for artificial colors and flavors not being considered vegan is the constant and ongoing animal testing they go through to be labeled fit for human consumption.

Using natural colors (that don't involve squishing up bugs) would make Tootsie Rolls more vegan-friendly.

6. Monoglycerides and Diglycerides

Monoglycerides and diglycerides can be plant-based, but companies can also get them from animal-derived ingredients. Like sugar, the issue becomes whether or not the label makes that clear enough without a vegetarian or vegan sticker. The only real way to know if Tootsie Rolls uses animal or plant-based glycerides is to contact them directly.

Are Tootsie Pops Vegan?

Crossed out Tootsie pops

No, Tootsie Pops are not vegan. As with the Tootsie Roll, Tootsie Pops rely on the same list of problematic non-vegan ingredients.

Tootsie Pops contain condensed milk and whey, alongside other questionable ingredients like palm and artificial food coloring.

Tootsie Pop Ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Palm Oil
  • Condensed Skim Milk
  • Cocoa
  • Whey
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial, and natural flavors
  • Artificial Food Colors (Including FD&C Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1)
  • Citric Acid (may contain Malic Acid)
  • Strawberry Powder

Are Tootsie Fruit Chews Vegan?

Tootsie Chews Crossed out

No Tootsie Fruit Chews are not vegan. The inclusion of condensed milk in the ingredients list is the most obvious reason that all these Tootsie Roll products are non-vegan.

The search for are Tootsie Fruit Chews vegan answers will always be fruitless.

Tootsie Fruit Chew Ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Palm Oil
  • Condensed Skim Milk
  • Whey
  • Malic Acid
  • Artificial and Natural Flavors
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial Colors (Including FD&C Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1)

2 Vegan Alternatives

Vegan Alternatives for Tootsie

1. Kind Whole Fruit Bars

I am fully aware that this is like offering an apple to the kid who just asked you for sweets. But hear me out, it does tick a lot of the same boxes, and it's infinitely better for you and the world around us.

These super chewy whole fruit bars provide much the same mouth feel like the sticky tacky Tootsie Roll, making them a tremendous vegan Tootsie equivalent. They have that rich dark chocolate taste and all the sweetness of Tootsie Pops too, and it's just natural flavors instead.

2. YumEarth Organic Pops

If you want Tootsie Pops without the condensed milk, check out these much more appealing and less processed alternatives.  I recommend these for any candy bowl-more on for the flavor than on the ethics and health-but them being organic helps a lot.

Even the questionable ingredients like the sugar are clearly labeled as brown and organic, so no risk of bone char.

Vegan Tootsie Roll Homemade Recipe

A woman baking

When I find out that something I used to love isn't vegan, my usual response is to try and make it for myself but better.

While I'm not the best cook globally, I'm also not the worst, and some of my experiments are more successful than others.

To make a tasty chocolate chewy vegan candy, I instantly thought that dates would make an exceptional stand-in.

I use dates as a candy substitute in their most raw and natural form to take much work at all.

Instructions:

  1. To get something that more resembled a tootsie roll, though, I boiled the dates for around five minutes to soften them and then blended them with nut butter, some cacao powder, and a little syrup for sweetness.
  2. After that, I rolled them into shape and froze them. They were a little too sticky and could have been a little sweeter, and I've seen another recipe that coats them in powdered sugar and tapioca starch and uses some syrup in the base, so I'll try that next.

FAQs

Are Tootsie Rolls Vegetarian?

Yes, Tootsie Rolls are vegetarian. All of the problematic ingredients are milk-based or come from a more vegan level of questioning the elements' ethics.

Are Tootsie Pops Vegetarian?

Yes, Tootsie Pops are vegetarian. All of the problematic ingredients are milk-based or come from a more vegan level of questioning the elements' ethics.

Are Tootsie Fruit Chews Vegetarian?

Yes, Tootsie Fruit Chews are vegetarian. All of the problematic ingredients are milk-based or come from a more vegan level of questioning the elements' ethics.

Are Tootsie Rolls Vegan or Not?

Just as no Tootsie Pops vegan, Tootsie Rolls are not vegan either. The fruit chews, the rolls, and tootsie pop all contain animal-derived ingredients.

The reason people even ask the question are tootsie rolls vegan in the first place is likely due to some confusion from the chocolate candy being labeled vegetarian.

The milk products on the label are a fairly obvious reason why the candy isn't vegan-friendly otherwise.

There are alternatives out there if you're willing to look, and the next wave of popular candies will be vegan by default.


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