Chicago Vegan Foods (CVF) will launch gelatin-free vegan marshmallow cream under its Dandies brand in stores starting summer 2022. On the heels of its 20th year anniversary, CVF previewed the marshmallow cream at Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia, the world’s largest natural products convention. 

Created to satisfy longtime customer demand for spreadable marshmallow fluff, Dandies’ new vegan marshmallow cream is free from the top eight allergens, including soy, and is made with certified vegan sugar. Unlike other puffy marshmallow products under the Dandies brand, CVF’s newest addition is also carrageenan-free and represents the first offshoot from its core line of solid vegan marshmallows. 

“This has been a product I’ve been excited to see come to fruition for a long time, and a product I know our customers have been wanting to see,” CVF founder Dan Ziegler told VegNews. “It’s a first-of-its-kind product in the vegan market.” 

CVF also showcased new Dandies maple-flavored mini marshmallows at the convention, set to hit stores in January 2022. 

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Dandies’ vegan marshmallow legacy

Ziegler and Ryan Howard founded CVF in 2001, initially launching the company with Temptation Vegan Frozen Dessert and Tease Vegan Cheese. In 2010, CVF debuted Dandies in stores as the first vegan marshmallow for the mass market. Since then, CVF has innovated Dandies to include seasonal flavors such as peppermint, pumpkin, and the forthcoming maple. Propelled by the success of Dandies and the explosion of the plant-based market, CVD has grown 40 times in size over the past 10 years. Though the brand is sold primarily in the US and Canada, in late 2020, Dandies expanded overseas at all ASDA stores in the United Kingdom.  

“We started in my tiny basement and now manufacture out of our own 40,000-square foot, fully vegan facility,” Howard said in a statement. “We can manufacture over 18 tons of marshmallows a day, which is over 100 miles worth of marshmallows placed end to end.”

While the brand’s new marshmallow cream is a novel product, CVF has previously explored interesting marshmallow concepts with other brands. During the 2020 holiday season, Dandies partnered with Elmhurst (a former dairy company that turned into a vegan milk brand in 2016) to create a DIY Ultimate Hot Chocolate Kit that included Elmhurst Chocolate Milked Oats and Original Milked Oats, Dandies vanilla mini marshmallows, Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cacao Mix packets, Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, and a mug. 

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Why most marshmallows are not vegan

Most commercial marshmallows are made with gelatin, rendering them neither vegan nor vegetarian. Gelatin is typically derived from the boiled connective tissue of pig or cow bones, ligaments, and tendons. And while some marshmallow fluff does not contain gelatin, its fluffy texture is typically derived from egg whites.

Luckily, pectin and other non-animal ingredients are viable substitutes for animal-derived gelatin. And food technology companies such as Silicon Valley-based Geltor are working to replace traditional gelatin with bioidentical gelatin created without animal products.  

In addition to CVF’s Dandies, there are a handful of other brands making vegan marshmallows. Yummallo launched its marshmallows (made from sugar, corn starch, rice protein, and vanilla) at Walmart stores in April. Trader Joe’s sells private-labeled vegan marshmallows, and ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s created a new marshmallow swirl for a vegan version of its iconic Phish Food flavor launched earlier this year. 

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