Bursting with gooey toffee filled chocolate eggs, cheerful yellow worms and sparkly strawberries. The gummies not only have a sweet taste that everyone loves, but they are also brilliant. But what is the secret of this shine?
Innocently we will think that the sweets are shiny because of the sugar that covers them, but the truth is that their origin is quite different. It is possible that after knowing it, our perspective on trinkets will change.
Beetle excretion is the secret ingredient that makes gummies sparkle. The FDA calls this ” shellac ” and not beetle droppings for some strange reason. Shellac is actually found in a lot more candies than just jelly beans like Hershey’s chocolates and the candy that everyone loves to hate: candy corn.
However, the gummies do not use insects as an ingredient. They do, however, contain ingredients that insects make: like beeswax and icing. Baking icing, often called shellac, contains a byproduct of female insects. These insects feed on tree sap and, as a result, secrete a resin (a wax-like substance). About 150,000 insects are needed to secrete enough resin to produce just a pound of shellac.
The good news is that the secretions used in shellac are not insect poop . People have confused the word secretion with the word excretion (which refers to excrement, i.e. poop) because they sound the same, leading to the misconception that shellac is made from insect poop.
Not suitable for vegans
The reason most gummies are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians is because of their insect icing. Baking icing is safe for human consumption. Many jelly beans lose any chance of being allowed on a vegan or vegetarian diet due to the inclusion of gelatin. Gelatin is an animal by-product, which means that any gummy that contains gelatin is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
It’s worth noting that M&Ms, Skittles, and other shiny candies don’t use beeswax or rosin. Instead, they rely on plant-based carnauba wax, which comes from the leaves of the carnauba palm.
However, before you start avoiding sweets made with confectioner’s icing, keep in mind that consuming insect secretions is not that unusual. Bees secrete honey, and beeswax is used not only in jelly beans, but also in other candies.