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It’s funny to us that these Airborne gummies are labeled “Original,” since when we think of Airborne we think of that sharp and distinct fizz effect, whether we’re consuming the powder or the tablet.
We’re actually cut from that brave cloth that sometimes doesn’t add water and just pops the tablet in our mouths as is. We live life on the edge here in the gummy galaxy.
Nevertheless, we felt morally obliged to try their gummy after seeing them on the shelves at Target.
Airborne + Gummy felt like some sort of inevitable supplement marketing love child, one that we were powerless before.
What is Airborne?
If for some reason, you somehow missed or slept through the Airborne heyday, let’s bring you up to speed.
Airborne’s backstory is charmingly down-to-earth. So charming, that it’s basically their only real selling point. Airborne was famously created by an elementary school teacher, which made the product “relatable.”
As the story goes, the teacher, one Victoria Knight-McDowell of Carmel, began concocting variations of her now-infamous proprietary blend in the early nineties, trying to discover new ways to keep from getting sick from her students.
Airborne launched in 1999 to massive success due to their marketing efforts: it basically became “airborne” overnight. (Sorry that was…really corny.)
And with that success came a slew of controversy.
In 2008, Airborne was the subject of both a class-action lawsuit and charges from the FTC, because they claimed to prevent & cure the common cold. The FTC came down hard on them for false advertising, and Airborne settled the lawsuit + FTC charges for $30 million.
One medical report even called them out for overwhelming people’s systems with too much Vitamin C, which could potentially lead to kidney stones in some people.
Basically, be very careful about what you’re claiming if you’re starting a supplement business.
Do Airborne Gummies Work?
These contain that unique, “original” Airborne proprietary blend, which is mostly made of obscure, flowers, fruits, and herbs, pulled from traditional Chinese medicine: Lonicera japonica, Forsythia suspensa, Schizonepeta tenuifolia, Vitex trifolia, Isatis tinctoria, plus your classic Ginger and Echinacea.
While the individual ingredients in this blend might have a few studies investigating their efficacy, the thing about proprietary blends is that you never know exactly how much of each ingredient is in them!
Which makes it impossible to even speculate on if they might be effective.
In addition to the proprietary blend, these gummies are loaded with Vitamin C, as well as some vitamin A, vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium and Manganese.
These more ubiquitous vitamins and minerals have been studied much more thoroughly, and some, like Zinc and Selenium, can have potential immune supporting effects.*
But the proprietary blend is the heart and soul of Airborne — otherwise why not just take a multivitamin? — and it’s hard to say anything about how effective this blend might be.
Although the FTC certainly didn’t mince words:
There is no credible evidence that Airborne products, taken as directed, will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places.1
The flavor of these is called “Zesty Orange,” Airborne’s signature citrus flavor, a bold cartoonish orange that lets you know you are about to be mainlining some vitamin C.
These contain gelatin, so they have that pillowy juiciness when you chew them, which is kind of fun, but on the flip side, these are huge, and you’re supposed to take three of them, so there’s a lot of gummy chewiness in here. Be prepared.
We’re not the biggest gelatin fans, and don’t understand why brands still decide to use gelatin when we’ve pretty much perfected the pectin-based vegan gummy in 2021. We’ll guess because gelatin is cheap?
Ultimately, these taste like bizarro candy. They don’t taste very healthy, they’re too sugary and gelatinous for that. And yet, they also don’t satisfy like a real gummy candy, being slightly medicinal tasting and all.
There’s definitely a kind of indulgent enjoyment though that comes from consuming these. We kind of hate that we don’t totally hate them.
Maybe the best thing we can say about these is that they’re an inexpensive, mildly-enjoyable way to get some vitamins and minerals, with a questionably-effective blend of herbs on the side.
For us, though, the sugar content (7 grams per serving!) plus all the gelatin is a deal breaker. There are plenty of other immunity gummies out there that we prefer to Airborne, like MegaFood or GTFO.
Whether or not immune boosters do much is an open question, but we at least want to feel like our gummy isn’t just candy in disguise, is made out of high-quality ingredients, and comes without a history of class-action lawsuits.