I am Vegetarian which sugar free sweets can I eat?

If you are vegetarian like me  but are still looking for some great sugar free candy.  It can be difficult to  to work out which sweets one can eat.

The most common  ingredient of sugar free candy that is not Vegetarian is gelatin. Gelatin is used in some toffee and jelly style sweets to provide the right texture. Gelatin is a by-product of the meat industry and normally originates from cows or pigs.  It is possible to use gelatin substitutes such as modified starch or Agar which comes from sea weed.  

The de Bron wine gums and sweet liquorice both use modified starch  but are coated with bees wax so are vegetarian but not vegan.  All the other de Bron "gum" sweets use gelatine so are not vegetarian. We now have the Free From Fellows range of sugar free candy that includes vegan Cola bottles and Gummy Bears .

Our Toffees from Thorne's, Stockleys and Werther's are vegetarian.  To get that lovely creamy taste that we expect from a toffee, they also contain milk or butter so they are not suitable for vegans.  For various reasons some people also like to avoid palm oil; the Thorne's toffees do not contain this but the Stockleys and Werther's do.  

Sadly for vegetarians, the delicious fruit and Juice toffees from de Bron contain gelatine as do their mint toffees. 

If you are looking for fruit chews or spearmint chews , I have yet to find any that are suitable for vegetarians as they all contain gelatin. 

If you fancy boiled sweets it is all much easier.  Most are Vegetarian but you do need to be a bit careful of some E numbers.  For instance E120 is cochineal (which is made from beetles!)

January 13, 2017 by Peter Simons

How I fell in love with Fisherman's Friends

I am always on the look out for new sugar free sweets.   On television recently there was a food program (inevitably starring Greg Wallace!) that featured the sweet manufacturing industry.

It looked at three factories, their processes and the history behind them.  One was a major traditional sweet manufacturer, another a craft rock maker and the third was the factory which made Fisherman's Friends.

I knew that Fisherman's Friends were first made in 1865 and was fascinated to learn how the product had developed from a simple lozenge for fishermen to a wide range selling to a world market.  I was amazed to see how modern the factory was, with standards of cleanness right up there with the pharmaceutical industry.  

This got me thinking  "Did they do any sugar free sweets?"   As it happens most of their range is sugar free and one of my suppliers carries them.  So now we are proud to stock Blackcurrant Fisherman's Friends .  This lozenge blends the traditional menthol taste with a real blackcurrant flavour.  I can see these being really popular now that Autumn is here and Winter approaches.  I will certainly keep a packet handy and they will definitely cheer me up if I get a cold.

September 23, 2016 by Peter Simons

A sugar free trade show

At Sweets Without we are always looking for new sugar free or no added sugar products.

Once a year there is a trade show for chocolate at Kensington Olympia. We go to search for new  products for you to enjoy.

It gives us a chance to ask existing suppliers to expand their range.  For instance Cavalier do a large praline bar currently not available through UK wholesalers but I am sure it would be popular here.

 One new supplier has some beautifully packaged mints.

A Danish sweets maker had a range of beautifully designed rock sweets unfortunately they are priced in euros so are too expensive for my market.

For me, the Holy Grail of sugar free confectionery would be a milk chocolate that is not just sugar free but doesn't contain sweeteners either and I found one that tasted fantastic, even better than a similar bar from  Hotel du Chocolate.  Also for the first time I tasted a 100% chocolate bar and thought "Wow, I love to eat this" !   Now all I need to do is to see if it makes sense for me to stock it.

 Believe it or not,  it is quite difficult to taste so many different chocolate bars in a short space of time.   It confirmed to me that compared to normal chocolate the range of no added sugar chocolate is still limited. But I believe that at Sweetswithout.we have one of the best ranges available. 




September 09, 2016 by Peter Simons

What does sugar free really mean?

I have just added the Sula sugar free sweets to my range of products.  I always include a list of ingredients to the description as I know how important it is to my customers to have as much information as possible.  As I did this, I noticed that these delicious sweets contain fruit juice which means that there is some natural sugar in them.  I take food labelling regulations very seriously and at first I was a bit worried at the thought that such a well known and highly regarded product could be mislabelled.  A bit of research quickly reassured me that all was well.

Definition of sugar free

The EU lays down strict rules about how any food that claims particular properties can be described .  To be "sugar free" a product must have less than .5 grams of sugar from any source in every 100 grams and the Sula products definitely conform to this.  

What is Low Sugar?

Some products ( though none that I currently sell) can be described as "low sugar".  This has quite a precise definition - not more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams or for liquids not more than 2.5 grams per 100 ml.  (a teaspoon of sugar is about  5 grams) 

No added sugar?

The different terms used in food labelling can be confusing but are designed to give the key information to those people who need to watch their intake of certain food substances.  In particular, it is worth remembering  a product that is described as "no added sugars" or "contains naturally occurring sugars" may in fact contain sugar at a level that makes it unsuitable for some diabetics.  

Want to know more?

Similar labelling rules also exist for all sorts of foods from the amount of fat to the presence of vitamins or the calorie content.  If, like me, you are an  inveterate label reader, do follow this link to the European definitions.

Just in case you are wondering, it is unlikely that Brexit will have any effect on our food labelling!  


August 26, 2016 by Peter Simons

The weird world of sugar free sweets and VAT

It's the time of year when my distributors have lovely new catalogues with the latest ranges of sugar free sweets. I have been trying to decide which new products to stock.  I can't help wondering why the powers that be complicate things so much.  In theory VAT should be a fairly simple way of taxing things but it isn't.  

It probably sounded right at the start to say that food should not have VAT charged on it unless it was being purchased in a restaurant or cafe.  The problem then was to define "food" for tax purposes and that is where it all got a bit silly and confusing. 

Sweets and Confectionery in general have VAT added so most chocolate has VAT on it. However there is no VAT on a piece of chocolate that is sold as a "melt" to be made into a drink by being melted in a cup of hot water or milk.  Seems illogical to me.  But a logical system wouldn't charge VAT on a biscuit coated with chocolate on both sides when choc chip cookies, chocolate filled wafers and double coated biscuits all have no VAT on them.

A cake can have chocolate on it, under it and inside it and still not be standard rated.  

Finally,I do wonder if anyone can explain to me why chocolate body paint should be zero rated, when cough sweets, sugar free or not,  have VAT charged.





August 11, 2016 by Peter Simons

Sugar free sweets and Maltitol

One of the more common sweeteners used in sugar free sweets is Maltitol.  It tends to be used in Toffee and Jelly sugar free sweets rather than boiled sweets.

It can be found in Werther's sugar free toffees as well as the Thornes toffees.

What is Maltitol?

It is a sugar alcohol made by the conversion of a sugar in starch from maize or wheat.

Oral bacteria cannot metabolise it so does not cause tooth decay.

It is metabolised  more slowly than sugar so can be consumed by diabetics (glycaemic index of 45).

Taste and other Properties

 It is very similar to sugar in terms of sweetness and unlike some other sweeteners does not have a cooling effect.  It can be made in a crystalline form like sugar and when heated it can brown and caramelize just as sugar does(which is why it is used for toffees).  A maltitol syrup is often used in pharmaceutical products such as cough syrups where it not only replaces sugar but has another advantage in that it doesn't crystalize round the bottle top and make it stick.

Laxative Effect

In common with some other sugar free sweeteners, excessive consumption of Maltitol can have a laxative effect.   Some people seem to be particularly sensitive to Maltitol.


July 23, 2016 by Peter Simons

Sugar Free Vegan sweets

UPDate Version  Here

Boiled sweets

Any vegan who likes boiled sweets is lucky because most of them do conform to vegan rules.  However if they contain butterscotch there is likely to be some dairy content.  

You are probably aware that there can be colours or flavours used that may be of animal origin.  The most well known of these is probably the red colour cochineal.  Some of these additives are usually known by their E number and it can be difficult to ascertain whether they are animal derived or not.  (see earlier blog about  E numbers)  


 Dark chocolate is normally vegan.  However flavoured chocolate should be regarded with caution and the ingredient list studied carefully .

Chocolate centred sugarfree sweets are popular but most are not suitable for vegans as the chocolate filling often contains milk. 

 Chews and Jellies

Vegans need to be very wary if they want chewy sweets or toffees.  Most of these sweets will not be vegan.  Frequently they have gelatine in them to get the right texture and also they may have a surface glaze made with bees-wax.  

However in spite of its texture  our sugarfree Turkish delight is vegan

We now stock Free from Fellows range of  Gummy sweets which are Vegan

Why no list?

Unfortunately few manufacturers actually describe their sugarfree sweets as specifically vegan.   I know that vegans take avoiding animal derived products very seriously.  I would hate to miss an ingredient or not recognise that an ingredient could be of animal origin.  I have offered some general advice here based on the manufacturer's labelling.

For more comprehensive information please check the vegan society  



July 19, 2016 by Peter Simons
Tags: sweets vegan

Why are my favourite sugar free sweets out of stock?

We always try and keep many sugar free sweets and candy in stock.  I know it can be frustrating to be look forward to your favourite sugar free candy only to find that it is out of stock.  It's just as frustrating for us as we really want to please all our customers.

There are lots of reasons why this happens.  Sometimes there is a sudden run on a particular sweet and all our stock of that sweet is sold, so it is out of stock until we can re-order.  Unfortunate we can't always get the replacements.  

It's out of stock at the distributor!

When we place an order with our wholesaler we may find that they do not have any stock.  Sometimes this can be for quite a long period of time. The popular Cavalier fruit bars have been on back order since May (2016) and are still not in stock now (July 2016). Also I won't buy short dated packets so sometimes I will reject what's in stock.

The manufacturer is making it now!

 We buy some sweets direct from the manufacturer and they may only make it when we order. It can take up to 3 weeks as they have to plan their production schedules. So when we get the sweets they will be freshly made.  

They are not making it anymore!

The most annoying thing is when the wholesaler or manufacturer discontinues a popular line.  This may be because a particular ingredient has become unavailable or too expensive, but all too often it's that maddening retail explanation "there's no demand for it!"








July 08, 2016 by Peter Simons

Sugar free sweets - does size matter?

Sweets, whether they are sugarfree or not,  come in all shapes and sizes, from sticks of rock that have been broken up to small mints like Uncle Joe's and big cushion-shaped humbugs.

The picture below show the range of size sugar free sweets come in.

Sugar free sweets in size

Ultra Small

We had some cinnamon mints that tasted really nice. (I love the flavour of cinnamon)  They were so tiny that they were gone almost as soon as you put them in your mouth.  .  I'm sorry to say they reminded me of school when people had a polo mint to cover up their smoking so I decided they were just too small! 

Small Sweeties

These are often mints and used for refreshing one's breath. But now Sula and Ricola make a more interesting range of small sweets that come in handy pocket sized boxes. 

 Randomly shaped and sized sweets.

Attractive sweets can be made by cutting cylinders of hard candy like seaside rock into sections. These sweets will usually have the word rock in their name.   A packet of rock sweets will contain a varied selection of sizes.  It is fun to select a piece that suits what you fancy at the time!   I tend to go for mid sized pieces.

Large sweets

Some sweets are quite large and sometimes they may feel a bit uncomfortable until you get used to them.  They do last a long time in your mouth, steadily getting smaller and giving you plenty of flavour but you won't get as many in a packet so they are not so good for sharing.

It's reassuring that some things remain as large and colourful as they were in the past. 


July 02, 2016 by Peter Simons

Something magical.

Sometimes when you hold a packet of  sugar free sweets, you find the packaging is absolutely perfect.   If you then try the sweets and they meet all your expectations, it really does bring a smile to your face,

We recently have taken on Uncle Joe's sugar free extra strong mints.  They are great sweets with a good strong taste leaving a fantastic cool sensation in the mouth.

The packing is perfect, a small tin with a flip lid  which is ridged so it will not accidentally open.  The attention to detail is good with an Uncle Joe's logo on the inside of the tin lid. The size of the packet is perfect for pocket or hand bag.

 It's a pleasure when a UK manufacturer brings a high quality item and packaging together to make a fantastic product.



May 20, 2016 by Peter Simons