Food is cultural. Culture dictates the acceptability of food. In some cultures, acceptable food must be vegetarian (specific animal products excluded) or vegan (no animal products). Food producers marketing to the masses will try to be as inclusive as possible to maximize sales. This includes food products such as candies that some consider “junk food”. Food production companies research markets to determine what makes their products acceptable or unacceptable to the general population.
Slight changes in ingredients can change product acceptability with almost imperceptible changes in the product. An example is the candy, Skittles. Prior to 2009, Skittles, was on the unacceptable list for vegetarians and vegans. The candies are mostly sugar, with a little oil and filler. Color and flavoring are added. Prior to 2009, gelatin, a protein that is processed from the cartilage of animals was used as a binder. Two insect products were also used. Carmine is a red dye used to create the red Skittles. Carmine is harvested from the cochineal scale insect. Shellac is a wax secreted by the lac insect, Kerria lacca. Food grade shellac is often used as a coating to seal the food and prevent transfer of the color dyes from the candy to the skin.
Since 2009, Skittles have been produced without the gelatin and the shellac. Red 40 substitutes for carmine as the red dye. These changes remove the primary reasons that make the candies unacceptable to vegetarians and vegans. The majority who have no cultural bias against consuming these ingredients do not notice much difference in the product.