Hot Tamales first arrived in stores in 1950 and rapidly became a go-to choice at movie theaters and small candy shops across the U.S. The spicy-hot chewy cinnamon candy has a very distinctive flavor that sets it apart from your typical gummy. But are hot tamales vegan? Let’s take a closer look.
Are Hot Tamales Vegan?
Unfortunately, Hot Tamales are not vegan. For example, they contain confectioner’s glaze, which is a non-vegan food additive made with shellac (from lac bugs).
Furthermore, Hot Tamales include processed white sugar, which many people who consume a plant-based diet try to omit from their diets because it’s filtered using animal bone char.
Does Hot Tamales Candy Have Gelatin?
A majority of mainstream candy brands contain gelatin, which is a tasteless powder made from animal collagen. It’s what gives chewy consistency to foods like Jell-O, marshmallows, gummy bears and more.
Gelatin is an ingredient used in many foods that non-vegans consume without a second thought. What they don’t know, however, is that gelatin is derived from processed animal bones.
Unlike other gelatin-based chewy candies, Hot Tamales get their texture from a combination of food starch, MCTs, and pectin.
What Are Hot Tamales Candy Made Of?
There are a lot of difficult-to-pronounce ingredients in processed foods these days, and instead of just ignoring them, I want to break it all down for you. That way, you can easily figure out which foods are vegan and which aren’t!
Hot Tamales Candy Ingredients
- Pear juice concentrate
- Citric, malic, and fumaric acids
- Pectin (a natural plant fiber)
- White mineral oil
- Sugar, corn syrup, and modified food starch
- Sodium citrate and magnesium hydroxide
- Waxes including confectioner’s glaze and carnauba
- Artificial colors—Red 3, Red 40, Yellows 5 and 6, Blues 1 and 2.
Why Hot Tamales Are Considered by Some to Be Vegan
The candy is vegan-friendly, as it does not contain common non-vegan ingredients used in candy making, with the exception of confectioner’s glaze.
Hot Tamales Don’t Contain Egg Albumin
Albumin is the protein content of eggs—the protein surrounding egg yolk. Albumen is the water/protein mixture that composes egg white and consists of mostly proteins (albumin) and water. It makes up about 58% of an egg’s weight.
Many chewy candies contain aerators, of which albumin is the most common.16 Nevertheless, it’s good news that Hot Tamales don’t use any proteins in their candy making process.
Hot Tamales Don’t Contain Gelatin
Gelatin is a flavorless, colorless food made from collagen protein. It’s often used as an aerator in candy making and makes chewy candy possible. Unfortunately, it’s always non-vegan since it comes from animal byproducts like meat or leather.
Tamales are traditionally made from pork skins, split cattle hides, and the bones of cattle and pork. Fortunately for Hot Tamales lovers, it’s not used in this product.
Hot Tamales Contain Red 3 and Red 40
The “azo” dyes Red 3 (Erythrosine) and Red 40 (Allura Red), which are derived from coal tar, are commonly used in soft drinks, candies, popsicles, and children’s medicine.
Red 4 and carmine are both common red pigments, but they come from different sources. Red 4 is produced from beetles, while carmine derives from carminic acid. Carminic acid is a substance that comes from beetles.
Large numbers of beetles are killed to create only tiny amounts of the substance. It is not only sourced from insects, but other creature products such as egg white, gelatin, and fish glue are often used in its production.
Some vegans might not have a problem with it, but it’s one less ingredient we need to worry about.
Final Thoughts on Are Hot Tamales Vegan
Spicy candy lovers who follow a vegan lifestyle no longer have to worry about whether or not Hot Tamales are considered “vegan candies.” A key ingredient in chewy candies—gelatin—is omitted, and the candy isn’t flavored with carmine or other animal-derived pigments.
If you’re looking for a delicious vegan snack that doesn’t skimp on flavor, Hot Tamales are a good choice. Just remember that some other ingredients raise some ethical concerns.
Hot tamales are vegan because they don’t contain common non-vegan ingredients used in candy making like gelatine or albumen. Instead, they get their chewy consistency from pectin, starches and oil. However, some vegans might take exception to artificial colors used in the candy. Overall though, these spicy candies are not only delicious but also vegan-friendly and can be enjoyed by anyone following a plant-based diet.”