Are Swedish Fish Vegan? Here’s the Inside Scoop

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Are Swedish Fish vegan? Well, lucky for you, we’ve got all the bases covered on these popular red fish candies. Whether you’re planning a trip to the movies or just like to keep your sweet tooth satisfied, this guide will teach you all about Swedish Fish ingredients! You may be wondering: “Does Swedish Fish have gelatin?” or “Are Swedish Fish from Sweden?” Luckily we have answers to all these questions and more! Just keep swimming—we mean, reading!

Although these iconic ocean-dwelling treats are shaped exactly like ocean-dwelling creatures, I can assure you there are no fish involved when it comes to making Swedish Fish. In fact, Swedish Fish are entirely vegan, and always have been. You can breathe a sigh of relief that there’s nothing fishy going on underneath the label! How is that possible? Let’s take a deep dive into this beloved candy.

What Are Swedish Fish?

Lest you think that everything about the name is a lie, Swedish fish did first swim onto the confectionery scene in Sweden thanks to innovative candy brand Malaco. They remain relatively unknown in their native country, primarily sold as one of many shapes available in gummy mixes. Once they hit the shores of the United States in the 1950s, however, they quickly rose in popularity amongst Americans.

Apparently, the original Swedish Fish flavor was lingonberry, always available in just one shade of bright, fire engine red. Swedish Fish have since spawned into large and small sizes, plus green and yellow varieties, said to be pineapple and citrus flavors. That’s right; while you might have guessed apple or kiwi, the green is meant to represent pineapple! For a brief moment in time, there were also purple, grape-flavored Swedish fish, but those were shortly discontinued.

Mondolez, makers of Oreo, now own the brand and continue spread the love for this soft and fruity snack.

Do Swedish Fish Have Gelatin?

Thankfully these wildly popular vegan candies are made without gelatin! Unlike many other candies such as mainstream gummy bears or sour worms, Swedish Fish are free from gross gelatin!

What Are the Swedish Fish Ingredients?

Here’s where things might get a little bit tricky. There are two major factories, one in Canada and one in Turkey, and they differ on one key ingredient. Only the ones made in Canada are completely vegan for this reason.

  • Sugar: Although there’s always some lingering questions about sugar processing, several sources have confirmed that Mondelez uses a vegan-friendly granulated sweetener.
  • Invert sugar: A mixture of fructose and glucose that’s been heated to make a more stable, viscous syrup, invert sugar sounds strange, but is used in many gourmet pastry kitchens around the world. This is the “secret” ingredient that allows fanciful sugar sculptures to take shape without immediately cracking.
  • Corn syrup: This sticky stuff is made from corn, of course, and isn’t as bad for you as many might think. High fructose corn syrup is a different beast entirely.
  • Modified corn starch: Similar to the cornstarch you might use to thicken puddings or sauces, modified corn starch has simply been further processed with heat, acid, electricity, or something else to make it easier to work with.
  • Citric acid: Derived from citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges, this concentrated flavor enhancer adds a touch of brightness and subtly tangy taste. If used in greater amounts, this creates the pucker power for sour candies.
  • Natural and artificial flavors: You won’t find any real fruit here, but don’t worry; those flavors are still totally vegan!
  • Mineral oil: This food-grade oil is used to keep the outsides of the candy shiny and prevent the pieces from sticking together in the package.
  • Carnauba wax (manufactured in Canada) or beeswax (manufactured in Turkey): This is the problem child that we need to keep our eyes on. Luckily, it’s safe to assume that any candy bought in mainstream markets in the US will have come from Canada, but it’s always good to double-check. Carnauba wax comes from a plant, whereas beeswax comes from bees. There are many reasons why honey and other byproducts of honey making are not vegan.
  • Artificial colors (red #40, yellow #6, yellow #5, blue #1): If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of food coloring, this is no different. Sure, they’re made from synthetic sources but hey, it’s totally plant-based!

More Swedish Fish Varieties

Every brand as their own spin-offs and limited time flavor offerings, and Swedish Fish are no different. The ingredients are largely the same so they’re all vegan but always double-check labels to make sure.

Here’s what kinds of Swedish Fish you can currently find on US grocery store shelves:

  • Original
  • Original Mini
  • Tails
  • Tropical Swedish Fish
  • Swedish Fish Mini (Assorted and Tropical)
  • Swedish Fish Crush Fruit Mix

Fun Facts About Swedish Fish Candies

  • It’s hard to read, but authentic Swedish Fish have the word “Swedish” embossed into the side of each swimmer.
  • As of 2009, it was estimated that over 7,000 metric tons of Swedish Fish were produced annually. To put that into perspective, that’s the same weight as 2,000 adult orca whales!
  • Considering that Mondelez owns both brands, it should come as no surprise that there was once and Swedish Fish-flavored Oreo cookie.
  • In their native Sweden, Swedish Fish are now available as “black herring”- That is, salmiak, or salted black licorice. It’s a polarizing taste, even for those who grew up with it.

Can You Make Swedish Fish at Home?

If you love Swedish Fish but hate all the artificial dyes and flavors added to them, you can still get your candy fix by taking a DIY approach! By making your own from scratch, you can use healthier, better ingredients that include whole fruits, natural colors, and less sugar, too.

You don’t necessarily need to make yours shaped like fish, so if you don’t mind making Swedish squares, you can get started by using a regular old baking dish and cutting the candy into pieces after it sets. Here’s a great recipe that comes from an old vegan zine called Lickin’ the Beaters: Low Fat Vegan Desserts by Siue Moffat. It’s now out of print, but this formula has been preserved online for future generations.

For a simpler approach, you can modify this classic gummy bear recipe to use molds of any shape you like. This one includes lots of fun flavor options to try, too.

Buy or DIY? It’s All Vegan!

There’s nothing wrong with a little instant gratification every now and then. Swedish Fish are there for you when sweet cravings strike, available in grocery stores, gas stations, bodegas, and mini marts across the world. You can rest easy known that Swedish Fish are plant-based and completely vegan.

Are Swedish Fish Vegan? FAQs

Is Carnauba Wax Vegan?

Yes! Since carnauba wax is derived from carnauba palm, it is 100% plant-based and suitable for vegans.

Are Swedish Fish Gluten-Free?

Luckily, all Swedish Fish flavors are gluten-free!

Are Swedish Fish Jelly Beans Vegan?

No. Swedish Fish Jelly Beans are made with beeswax which unfortunately makes them not vegan.

Are Swedish Fish Oreos Vegan? 

Yes, Swedish Fish Oreos are vegan!

Candy lovers can now rejoice knowing that Swedish Fish are indeed completely vegan! Have a favorite kind of Swedish Fish candy that you like to eat? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

More Vegan Candy Resources to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

If you’ve ever wondered “are Swedish Fish vegan?” then we hope this article has helped clear that up for you! This article was written with support from Hannah Kaminsky. Thoughts are our own, and we have no affiliation with the Swedish Fish brand. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which supports our work at World of Vegan.

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1 comment
  1. “Swedish fish did first swim onto the confectionery scene in Sweden thanks to innovative candy brand Malaco. They remain relatively unknown in their native country, primarily sold as one of many shapes available in gummy mixes.”

    I’d rather say that Malaco is one of the most well-known brands we have in Sweden within this segment, hell, most of us probably know who they are before we start kindergarten!

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