Going to the movies can be a nostalgic experience that’s more than just about watching the latest summer blockbuster. The real star of the show is indulging in a bucket of popcorn combined with your favorite candy. 

If you’re looking for more vegan candy and other snacks at the movies, you are not the only one. A 2022 survey by online movie ticket retailer Fandango found that 55 percent of the 2,500 people surveyed want more vegan options at concessions.

Fortunately, many delicious vegan candies are currently at movie concessions to enhance your time at the movies. 

This guide will help you navigate the options available at movie theaters—and offer a few ideas about which treats you can sneak in—to ensure a sweet movie experience all around.

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Gummy-BearsDmitry Dreyer/Unsplash

Understanding vegan candy

Why aren’t all candies vegan? Many traditional candies contain animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin, dairy, and confectioner’s glaze. 

Gelatin is made from the boiled tendons, ligaments, or skin of pigs and cows, and is common in gummies. Sadly, Haribo Gummy Bears, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Starbursts, and others are not vegan for this reason. 

While vegan chocolate is not hard to find, dairy ingredients—including milk, milkfat, and whey—are often present in classic chocolate bars and caramels. This renders popular movie theater candies such as Whoppers, Reese’s Pieces, Milk Duds, Sno-Caps, Junior Mints, Raisinets, M&M’s, Goobers, and others not vegan-friendly.

Additionally, carmine (derived from crushed cochineal beetles) and shellac (an ingredient in confectioner’s glaze made from insect secretions) are sometimes used as colorings and coatings. Avoid Mike & Ike, Good & Plenty, Lemonheads, Hot Tamales, and others due to these ingredients. 

There is a large selection of candies that are accidentally vegan as they do not explicitly contain animal products. However, refined white sugar is usually processed with bone char. If this is a concern, look for candies made with organic sugar.

Despite these challenges, there are numerous candies available that are free from animal products. Let’s explore some of the options you can find at movie theaters.

RELATED: The VegNews Guide to Vegan Candy

Vegan candy options at movie theaters

The candy options vary from theater to theater but there is a core selection that makes an appearance at most concession stands. Here are the vegan options among the most commonly available movie theater candies, in alphabetical order.

VegNews.AirHeadsAirheads

Airheads

These taffy-like bars come individually wrapped in a variety of flavors, including Cherry, Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, and White Mystery. Their stretchy, chewy texture makes Airheads enjoyable to eat slowly, perfect for savoring through a long film.
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Dots

These colorful candies are gelatin-free and offer a fruity punch. Their vibrant colors and simple, stick-to-your-teeth sweetness have made Dots a movie theater favorite.
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VegNews.DumDums

Dum Dums

Classic Dum Dums lollipops come in a range of flavors, offering a sweet and nostalgic treat. Their small size and variety make them perfect for sharing or enjoying different tastes in one sitting.
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VegNews.TargetHalloween.JollyRancher

Jolly Ranchers

Mouth-watering Jolly Ranchers hard candies come in a variety of intense fruit flavors. Their long-lasting nature makes them ideal for a slow, savoring candy experience, perhaps best suited for a double feature. 
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JujyfruitsJujyfruits

Jujyfruits

Jujyfruits are known for their distinct shapes, each piece resembling a fruit or a flower, adding a whimsical touch to your snacking experience. The candies come in a variety of flavors, including raspberry, licorice, lime, orange, and lemon, which opens the door to flavor surprises inside the dark theater. 
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Red VinesRed Vines

Red Vines

Red Vines offer a distinct licorice flavor and texture making them a top candy choice that’s easy to share. In 2023, Red Vines released a limited-edition Buttered Popcorn flavor, which is also plant-based, as a nod to its popularity at the movie theater. A combo of the classic red flavor and Buttered Popcorn is rumored to be on the way soon.
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Skittles

Bite-sized buttons in a rainbow of fruit flavors, chewy and crunchy Skittles are popular movie theater choices. Opinions vary on whether or not these candies pair well with popcorn.
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VegNews.AccidentiallyVeganCandy.SourPatch

Sour Patch Kids

These tangy, chewy candies are a favorite among moviegoers for their sour-then-sweet taste. Shaped like Gumby’s long-lost children, a coating of inverted sugar and sour sugar gives Sour Patch Kids their signature burst of tartness.
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Swedish Fish

These sweet, chewy fish are known for their unique texture and slightly fruity flavor. While most varieties offered at theaters are vegan, some Swedish Fish—particularly those sold in Sweden—contain beeswax so check the label to be sure. 
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Sweet-TartsSweet Tarts

Sweet Tarts

As their name suggests, Sweet Tarts offer a delightful combination of tangy and sweet flavors in a crunchy, bite-sized form. They come in candy and rope varieties, both of which are vegan if you stick to the original flavor. 
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TwizzlersTwizzlers

Twizzlers

These iconic red licorice twists are gelatin-free and perfect for snacking during a film. Twizzlers are also fun to use instead of straws to drink beverages. 
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Vegan candies to sneak into movie theaters

While it’s great to find vegan options at the concession stand, sometimes it’s easier to bring your own favorites. Here are some top vegan candies you can sneak into the movies for a delightful treat.

VegNews.ReesesThe Hershey Company

Reese’s Plant Based

Hit up Target before the film to stock up on Reese’s Plant Based peanut butter cups, which The Hershey Company released last year. These are made with oat milk and feature the same peanut buttery and chocolatey goodness as the original.
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Hershey-BarThe Hershey Company

Hershey’s Plant-Based Extra Creamy With Almonds and Sea Salt

The first vegan candy bar from The Hershey Company, these are made creamy with oat milk and are sectioned into recognizable snap-off portions printed with the Hershey logo. 
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KitKat V

Made with a rice-based alternative to dairy, the KitKat V is a vegan version of the iconic KitKat bar. If you live in one of the more than 15 countries where Nestlé has launched the KitKat V, then taking them to the movies will be a real treat. Stateside, KitKat is owned by The Hershey Company, and with its recent foray into vegan versions of its classic candies, we’re hoping everyone can soon enjoy a KitKat at the movies. 

Check out The VegNews Guide to Vegan Candy for a full list of vegan candies you can sneak into the movie theater. Enjoy the show!

For more on vegan candy, read:
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