Candy corn is as synonymous with Halloween as haunted houses and pumpkin spice lattes. But when you have alpha-gal syndrome, navigating the candy aisle can feel like walking through a minefield. Here’s what you need to know about vegan candy corn this spooky season.
The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.
Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.
When it comes to candy corn, the sweet, tri-colored kernels either make you jump with joy or cringe in horror. But when you’re living with alpha-gal syndrome, the question isn’t whether you love or hate them — it’s whether you can eat them without reacting. This guide dives into candy corn ingredients and identifies options that align with your dietary needs. So, let’s unmask this Halloween classic and see if it’s a trick or a treat.
In This Article
Is Candy Corn Vegan?
Is candy corn alpha-gal friendly? Is candy corn vegan? You may be asking yourself these questions now that you’re living with alpha-gal syndrome — especially around Halloween when candy corn seems to be everywhere.
The short answer is that, while there are some alpha-gal friendly candy corn options, there aren’t currently any vegan candy corn brands. (YumEarth used to make vegan candy corn, but it’s been discontinued.) But don’t worry, this guide will break down the options for you as you navigate this spooky season.
Common Candy Corn Ingredients
Candy corn is a Halloween staple as iconic as witches and pumpkins. But what exactly goes into those little tri-colored kernels? Let’s break down some of the most common ingredients in candy corn and discuss their implications for both alpha-gal syndrome sufferers and vegans.
It’s hard to imagine a sweet treat without some type of sweetener. When selecting candy treats, some high-sensitive alpha gals need to be mindful of products made with bone char. If you need to avoid this potential trigger, lookfor candy corn that is certified organic, made with unrefined sugar, or sweetened with another ingredient (like honey, agave, or maple syrup).
Gelatin (or Gelatine)
Gelatin — also known as gelatine in some parts of the world — is a gelling agent used to give candy corn its chewy texture. It is derived from the collagen found in animal tissues such as skin, bones, and cartilage and is typically sourced from cows or pigs, making it off-limits for both alpha-gals and vegans. So, if you see gelatin on the ingredient list, run from that candy corn as if a zombie is chasing you.
Sage Advice: While I’ve yet to see it used in candy corn, some treats — like marshmallows — use fish gelatin which is safe for alpha gals. As a general rule, if gelatin appears on the ingredient list and it’s not specifically listed as fish gelatin, it’s safest to avoid the product, because it’s likely to be derived from a bovine or porcine source.
Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honeybees. Worker bees secrete the wax to build the honeycomb structures within the hive. In candy corn, beeswax is often used as a glazing agent to give the candy a shiny appearance. While beeswax is alpha-gal friendly, it’s not vegan because it’s an animal byproduct.
Carnauba wax is a plant-based wax derived from the leaves of the carnauba palm, native to Brazil. It’s often used in candy corn to provide a glossy finish, similar to beeswax. The good news is that carnauba wax is both alpha-gal friendly and vegan, making it a win-win for candy corn lovers with those dietary restrictions.
Confectioner’s glaze, or shellac, is a resin secreted by the female lac bug. It’s often dissolved in alcohol to create a liquid glaze. In candy corn, it gives the candy a shiny, appealing look. While confectioner’s glaze is alpha-gal friendly, it’s not vegan because it’s derived from an insect.
Related Article: How to Read a Nutrition Label When You Have Alpha-Gal
Alpha-Gals and Vegans Should Avoid These Brands of Candy Corn
Before reaching for a bag of candy corn, knowing which brands are off limits for alpha-gals and vegans is essential. These options are absolute no-nos.
Brach’s Classic Candy Corn
This brand includes gelatin among its ingredients, making it a no-go for both vegans and alpha-gals. Learn more here.
Fruidles Halloween Candy Corn Treats
Despite its festive appearance, both the original and gummy versions candy contain gelatine, another word for gelatin. It’s definitely not suitable for vegans or alpha-gals. Learn more here.
Williams Sonoma Candy Corn Gummies
This is not an alpha-gal safe option because gelatin is listed as the third ingredient. Learn more here.
Alpha-Gal Friendly Candy Corn
Navigating the candy aisle with alpha-gal syndrome doesn’t have to be a horror story. While some brands are off limits, a few get the green light. Below are some of the best alpha-gal friendly candy corn options that let you enjoy the Halloween fun without fearing a reaction.
Jelly Belly Candy Corn
While not vegan due to beeswax and confectioner’s glaze, Jelly Belly’s candy corn is an option for alpha-gals as it doesn’t contain gelatin.
Sweetzo Old Fashion Candy Corn
This alpha-gal option is free from gelatin but not suitable for vegans as it contains beeswax and confectioner’s glaze.
Wiley Wallaby Candy Corn Drops
For an alpha-gal friendly option with a twist, try these gelatin-free, candy corn flavored licorice drops in a candy shell.
How to Make Vegan Candy Corn
If you’re an alpha-gal craving this iconic Halloween treat, several gelatin-free, alpha-gal friendly options are available. But if you follow a vegan diet, your best bet is to make homemade candy corn.
To make homemade vegan candy corn, follow these steps:
- Make the candy corn dough.
- Divide the dough into three equal parts and roll each into a ball.
- Color one of the dough balls orange and one yellow. Leave the third dough ball plain.
- Roll each dough ball into a long rope and line the strands up on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat in this order: yellow, orange, white.
- Cut the dough diagonally to slice the candy into triangles and chill.
Here are a few vegan candy corn recipes you can try:
- Homemade Vegan Candy Corn by The Banana Diaries – made with coconut milk powder, powdered sugar, and maple syrup instead of corn syrup (note that this homemade candy corn recipe requires a candy thermometer)
- Vegan Candy Corn by Chocolate Covered Katie – made with raw cashew butter and powdered sugar
- How to Make Vegan Candy Corn by Tablespoon.com – made with brown rice syrup, coconut oil, and tapioca flour
Sage Advice: Instead of red or yellow food coloring, you can use a few drops of beet juice and a pinch of turmeric, respectively, to add candy corn colors to your dough.
What’s Your Favorite Candy Corn?
Do you make vegan candy corn or buy an alpha-gal friendly variety at the store? What brand do you like best? Any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.