Last Updated on October 1, 2021 by Guillermina
Time to talk chocolate! We all have our go-to favorite chocolate when we’re craving a lil’ something. We’re unwrapping the details on why Hershey’s Kisses aren’t vegan, along with the ethical and nutrition concerns.
What are Hershey’s Kisses?
Hershey’s Kisses are teardrop-shaped American chocolates, with their origins dating back to 1907. There isn’t a clear story as to how these sweet treats got their name, but it stuck and is commonly known around the world. According to the Hershey’s Kisses website, 70 million Kisses are made every single day.
Hershey’s Kisses can be eaten alone or shared with a friend. Gifting someone Hershey’s Kisses can be an act of affection because you are giving them a Kiss. Baking cookies (like peanut butter blossoms) is another popular use of the chocolate to show off its unique shape.
Kisses are individually wrapped chocolates with a signature paper plume sticking out from the top. The color of the foil indicates which flavor of Hershey’s Kisses it is. There are currently 70 flavors of Kisses to choose from, availability depending on the time of year.
Types of Hershey’s Kisses
Wrapped in the signature silver foil, the original Hershey’s Kisses are milk chocolate. To list a few variations, here’s some of their most commonly known flavors:
- Milk Chocolates
- Milk Chocolate with Almonds
- Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate
- Chocolate Filled with Caramel
- Cookies n Creme Candies
- Raspberry Flavored Candies
- Milk Chocolates filled with Coconut Creme
- Pumpkin Spice Flavored Candies
- Candy Cane Flavored Candies
- Dark Chocolates filled with Mint Truffle
Are Hershey Kisses Bad for You?
At this point, we all know candy is not a healthy snack. Sometimes your sweet tooth needs satisfying, and chocolate can be an easy way to fulfill that need. Save the guilt because there is some research that shows some benefits to eating chocolate or cocoa. Let’s take a look at Hershey’s Kisses to see if they are healthy.
For one serving, or 7 milk chocolate Kisses, it is 160 calories, 9 g fat, 19 carbohydrates, 16 g added sugars and 2 g protein. Of course, you don’t have to eat an entire serving of Kisses. Keep the serving size in mind when considering the nutrition facts.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of your total daily calorie intake, which is 50 g per day for a 2,000-calorie eating plan. For children under 18 years old, aim for less than 24 g added sugars per day. One serving of Hershey’s Kisses is over half of the recommended added sugars for children – that’s a lot!
Young consumers trust a brand that is honest and clear about how they make their products. It’s important to not overlook a household name brand like Hershey’s chocolate. The chocolate industry is notorious for child labor and slavery. The Hershey’s company, in addition to other giant candy companies, have previously been under pressure for not ethically sourcing their chocolate.
In 2018, Hershey’s launched Cocoa For Good, investing half a billion dollars to help “nourish children, empower youth, build prosperous communities and preserve natural ecosystems”. While these efforts sound great, that doesn’t clear Hershey’s from their continued use of child labor and non-ethical cocoa. If human rights and ethical practices play a role in how you shop, I wouldn’t pick up any of Hershey’s products.
When shopping for sweet treats, I always recommend taking a peek at the ingredients. The list of ingredients for milk chocolate Hershey’s Kisses include:
- Cocoa Butter
- Milk Fat
- Natural Flavors
There are four non-vegan ingredients listed above: sugar, milk, milk fat, and natural flavor. These non-vegan ingredients are in other flavors, including the Special Dark Chocolate and Candy Cane Mint.
The first ingredient in the list is sugar. Refined cane sugar does not naturally have animal products but is processed using bone char, an animal byproduct. Depending on your personal definition of vegan, you may allow non-organic sugar in your diet. Vegan-friendly, unrefined sugars include organic cane, beet, coconut sugar, and raw sugar.
Milk and Milk Fat
There’s nothing vegan about cow’s milk or milk fat. This ingredient is in many, if not all, of Hershey’s Kisses products. Even the Special Dark Chocolate flavor has milk in the ingredients.
Vague and mysterious, natural flavors are pretty much anything that is approved for use in food. These ingredients range from derivatives of fruit and herbs to meat and everything in between. This label makes it impossible to tell based on the ingredients list alone if a product is truly vegan or not.
So why do manufacturers use natural flavors? It can summarize ingredients lists or to hide their recipe a secret from competitors. As time goes on, consumers are questioning food companies’ transparency about what exactly these ingredients contain.
Are There Vegan Hershey Products?
Unfortunately, there are no vegan Hershey Kisses products on the market. However, Hershey’s is getting ready to release a new Oat Made vegan chocolate bar later this year. There will be a plain dark chocolate bar and an almond and sea salt option.
Is Chocolate Usually Vegan?
Chocolate can absolutely be vegan! Dark chocolate is more likely to be vegan-friendly, depending on the brand. There are so many plant-based vegan chocolates on the market now. Checking the ingredients for any non-vegan ingredients and also looking into the brand for ethical sourcing are a great place to start.
Read more about 4 Reasons Why Froot Loops Aren’t Vegan-Friendly.
Vegan Chocolate Brands
If you’re unsure of where to find vegan dark chocolate, these brands are a great place to start. Many of them are ethically sourced and can be found at many grocery stores.
- Alter Eco
- Enjoy Life
- Endangered Species
- Hu Kitchen
- Green & Black
Even though chocolate can be vegan, Hershey’s Kisses are not vegan-friendly and can stay on the shelf. Hershey’s, amongst other large chocolate companies, are known for their unethical practices despite efforts otherwise. There are many ethical, vegan chocolates to try that are just as delicious (if not more) than Hershey’s Kisses!