Before reading this as a blanket endorsement of Tootsie and its seemingly countless candy offerings, slow your roll. Tootsie is by no means a cruelty-free company. However, they do offer several vegan options for those all about brand loyalty. Think Dots, Charms Blow Pops, and Dubble Bubble. Yes, these three products come at no cost to the conscience. Find these sweets online or virtually anywhere candy is sold.
Go Max Go
From Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to Milky Ways, there’s no denying these sugar-packed, chocolate-coated calories are a part of most of our pastimes. Want to enjoy these treats sans dairy, eggs, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial ingredients, cholesterol, and GMOs? Enter Go Max Go. Choose from seven heavenly vices, each a new and improved reflection of the aforementioned bigger brands, with a recent addition: a take on Bart Simpson’s guilty pleasure, the coveted Butterfinger. There’s Cleo’s (gluten-free), SNAP! (gluten-free), Jokerz, Twilight, Buccaneer, Mahalo (gluten-free) and Thumbs Up (gluten-free). To snag these bad boys, check out where Go Max Go is sold.
Operating for more than a century, Spangler Candy Company produces perhaps the most widely licked lollipops in American history. Does anyone else remember getting them as a kid during parents' errands at the bank? We sure do, and we still sometimes discover them at the bank today. They refuse to go away. But, that’s OK, because they’re vegan and kosher and a great way to distract you from whatever low balance might be bugging you. So, stick to the Dum Dums and Saf-T-Pops, but bypass the gummy snacks. Bonus? Christmas is coming and their candy canes are absent of animal ingredients, too. Order online or...rob a bank. The candy dish that is!
Hubba Bubba — the gum for everyone! The first bubble gum introduced by the Wrigley Company, Hubba Bubba takes its name from the phrase "Hubba Hubba," which was used by soldiers during World War II to express approval. In any case, whether you’re a chunk-lover or favor the Bubble Tape, give kids something to chew on this All Hallows’ Eve.
Where do we begin with this brand? Pulling this list together was the first time we laid tongue on these treats and, truth be told, we were unexpectedly impressed. Not that we predicted disappointment, but the cherry bars, as they’re called, were delicious. Tart-meets-sweet in the best sense. Not too saccharine. Not too…Triaminic. Not at all, actually. InterNatural Foods, based in Finland, nailed it with these. Blueberry and raspberry were super pleasing, too. Snag them at the online shop, or at your local health foods store.
Who could forget RingPops, the playground equivalent of getting engaged? What’s more, they’re just as awkward and awesome to eat as ever. And, for anyone who’d prefer not to suck insects, gems containing red didn’t come from something dead. Namely, the crushed carcasses of cochineal beetles. All clear here! (As everywhere else on this list.) We’re especially excited about the mini rings — same sugar rush, but much more manageable. Get your hands on — er, get on your hands — these fruity jewels at Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, and so on. Easy-peasy. And, if you’re bent on the finer things in life, consider personalizing your Pops. Perhaps for that special someone…
We’re smitten over Smarties (in the U.S.) and Rockets (abroad). They go out of their way to boast about being vegan, rather than leaving it to chance. This is more than can be said for myriad competing treats. Both sites state: "There are many reasons people choose a vegan or vegetarian diet, including for their health, for the environment and for the animals. Although [Smarties/Rockets] started out as an ‘accidentally vegan’ product, we are now well aware of the importance of these issues. We are delighted to offer a compassionate candy to satisfy the vegan sweet tooth."" Note: Smarties abroad are licensed by Nestlé and not guaranteed vegan. When outside the U.S., rely on Rockets.
Granted, Justin’s is not without its flaws, offering milk chocolate in addition to dark chocolate. But, we sure have to give them props for the latter, because they are awesome. Previously available only in packs of two, now we can buy them by the bag, cups individually wrapped for germ-free Halloween ease. We snag our favorite dark chocolate-meets-peanut-butter treats at Whole Foods, but many nationwide retailers also carry the cups, and you can also order online.
Sweet & Sara
We’re not sure what vegetarians, vegans, and those simply disgusted by the thought of ingesting gelatin did before plant-based marshmallows came along, but we imagine it wasn’t pretty. Then, Sara Sohn, founder of Sweet & Sara, changed the game with her range of gelatin-free marshmallows and marshmallow-laden treats. At long last, "spooktacular" marshmallow ghosts, hand-painted in organic chocolate, and "fa-BOO-lous" marshmallow bats, dipped in organic chocolate, can be ours for the eating! In addition to these pillowy wonders, we’re gaga for her year-round mini s’mores, which are the ideal size for handing out this Halloween. And, keeping with the autumn theme, her pumpkin spice marshmallows add a little something special to the season. Peruse S&S’s online store or buy at Whole Foods Markets across the country. Full list of locations here.
This super gnarly chew candy resembles age-old favorites — gummy bears and gummy worms — but by and large forgoes the use of gelatin (as well as high-fructose corn syrup and GMOs). Some of their offerings are off limits to those abiding by an animal-free diet, but most everything we could ask for and more is groovy for vegans. We’re loving the Fruity Bears, Sour Worms, and Sour Berry Bears, though there are still others available to ethical eaters (think Watermelon Rings and Peach Rings). Tru Sweets (the parent company) can be found at a number of retailers from coast to coast.