This week, we tried Big Chewy Nerds and shared our honest review. We dive into this candy and the reasons that not all Nerds are vegan.
We also snacked on Nerds Candy Canes, Cherry Watermelon Nerds, and revisited the Mango Chile and Guava nerds that we tried on our Halloween candy episode. Listen to the episode to get our thoughts on those other varieties!
Are Big Chewy Nerds vegan?
The short answer is yes! Both regular and sour Big Chewy Nerds are vegan. Read on for the long answer.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that not all Nerds candy is vegan. Unlike Lemonheads and many varieties of sprinkles, Nerds don't use confectioner's glaze -- made from bugs -- to give them their glossy finish.
The tricky animal ingredient in Nerds is a coloring ingredient: carmine, aka cochineal or crimson lake. This red food coloring is made from powdered insects.
Strawberry Nerds, for example, use carmine for color. That's a huge bummer, because it's hard to find Grape Nerds, which are vegan, that the company hasn't paired with its Strawberry flavor.
Big Chewy Nerds do not contain carmine, though! They're certainly not health food, but they are vegan. The ingredients list reads:
Dextrose, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Water, Modified Corn Starch, 2% or Less of Malic Acid, Natural Flavors, Tapioca Dextrin, Carnauba Wax, Color Added, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6.
Red 40 Lake does sound suspect, but don't worry! It is not derived from animals.
Big Chewy Nerds review
Big Chewy Nerds, which came out in April of 2019, are crunchy on the outside with a chewy center. The bag contains four flavors: orange, lemon, strawberry and grape.
Unlike their smaller, crunchier cousins, Big Chewy Nerds are all mixed up in the same bag. The flavors are:
These were crunchy outside and chewy inside, as promised, and the gummy texture was good. I felt like the crunchy coating fell apart and got sandy in my mouth, though, which wasn't very pleasant.
Flavor-wise, these were way too sweet for me. Part of the Nerds experience for me is that tart edge, and I didn't detect that at all in any of these except for the lemon flavor.
The grape was probably our least favorite. Neither Dave nor I was into them.
Dave liked the strawberry the best, though he agreed that it lacked tartness.
Like I alluded to above, I liked the lightly tart lemon flavor best, and I thought the orange was okay, too. It wasn't tart, but it gave an orange sherbet flavor that was pleasant.
If they made a bag of all-lemon Big Chewy Nerds, I might pick that up, but the variety pack was a miss for both of us.
Sour Big Chewy Nerds review
There is also a sour variety, which is also vegan, and we snagged a bag of these on a road trip to try. We didn't' review these in the episode, but I wanted to add this info here.
These were incredible. Where the coating on regular Big Chewy Nerds felt weird and chalky, the exact same one worked really well on the sour. It was a nice contrast to the tart, sour, chewy insides of this candy.
The sour flavors are:
- strawberry lemonade
- blue raspberry
- blood orange
I thought that the orange and strawberry were far and away the best flavors. The blue raspberry was good, but it wasn't as sour as the red and orange ones.
The watermelon ones were fine, but I'm not a fan of watermelon flavored candy in general. If you like watermelon candy, I think this will be a hit for you, as well!
Overall, if you're going to get Big Chewy Nerds, I definitely recommend the sour ones over the regular! They have a lot more flavor and are, frankly, addictive.
Where to buy them
You can find these at most grocery stores and many convenience stores here in the U.S. I got the bag that we tried for the podcast at Kroger. They were the only Nerds in the whole candy aisle!
If you can't find them in stores, they're also available online. Target sells them on their website, and you can also grab a bag on Amazon.
Have you tried Big Chewy Nerds? Do you have a favorite vegan flavor of Nerds candy? Tell us in the comments!
Where to listen
Thank you so much for listening (or reading!). We record these episodes for you, and we'd love to hear from you.
Got a favorite vegan treat that you think we should cover on the podcast? Send your suggestions to [email protected]!
You can find Talkin' Tofu on: