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Gluten Free Halloween Candy can be tricky to identify. If you haven’t procured your gluten free goodies yet, read on, because at first glance, you might think most candy is gluten free, but not so fast! Many forms of confections actually use gluten as filler or to give substance to extruded shapes.
Twizzlers® and nearly all other licorice, for example, are not gluten free (enriched wheat flour is the second listed ingredient!). Nor are malted milkballs or candy bars containing rice crisps (Nestle Crunch® — rice crisps are flavored with barley malt), ready-made rice crispy treats or those with cookies inside (like Twix®).
In fact, even M&Ms® — a candy most people trust as being gluten free — have a new variety called M&Ms Crispy that looks like a regular M&M but has a crispy center that contains BARLEY MALT *(aka gluten).
Bottom Line: Always read those labels! And read them on the exact package you’re considering purchasing, as ingredients change and may differ depending on the shape and size of the candy.
Another tricky issue when it comes to finding safe candy is the displays in each store. This one looks particularly inviting, doesn’t it?
But look again.
Not all the candies in this display are gluten-free. And while this may not be the fault of the store, you can’t rely on displays to do the label reading for you. KitKat and Twizzlers are definitely NOT gluten free; if the Reese’s are in Halloween shapes, Hershey’s says they may be cross-contaminated with gluten.
Run-of-the-mill chocolate should be gluten free, but if it’s contaminated in the plant, then of course, it’s not.
Some companies have made it easier on us than others: Hershey’s®, for example, has published a thorough gluten free products list – check it out! They explicitly recommend that customers read the packaging for the most accurate allergen and gluten information.
Here’s an example of the kind of listing you’ll find there:
Note that while Reeses® Pieces are labeled gluten free, some seasonal and smaller shapes of traditionally gluten free candies like Reeses® Peanut Butter Cups, are not included on their gluten free list, so double check before shopping or indulging (always check the package itself).
Most candy companies are now putting their allergen information on their websites, you just have to look for it. Of course, the best gluten free Halloween candy shopping experience comes when these companies go to the trouble of telling you right on the package that their products are gluten free. That’s one reason why Marshmallow Peeps® always fill my candy bowl.
For a candy, you can’t beat the fact that now emblazoned across the front of Peep packages everywhere is the declaration: “Always Gluten Free”! And if you’re looking to avoid food dyes in candy, choose the white Peeps Ghosts — dye-free!
Even Jet-Puffed® Marshmallows are getting into the fun by offering Halloween shaped marshmallows in “Spooky Fun Packs.” I know it’s just a marshmallow in the shape of a pumpkin, but I’m not complaining about having fun new choices for kiddos!
Jelly Belly® boasts that “All flavors of Jelly Belly beans are free of gluten. We do not use any wheat, rye, barley, or oats in the basic recipe for Jelly Belly jelly beans. The modified food starch listed on the package is cornstarch.”
And now, the company has embraced Halloween with their fun packs made just for the occasion! (They also make gluten free candy corn).
All kinds of gummy candy can be found in Halloween shapes and packaging, but make sure the ingredients are safe before assuming they’re all gluten free. Haribo® Gummy Bears now may contain wheat or corn from dextrose — you never know which, so it’s best to avoid.
Annie’s® Organic is one you may find in your grocery store or on line, and offers pouches ready-made for trick-or-treat in bunnies and bat shapes — they’re great for lunch boxes too!
Even easy-to-find brands like Welch’s has started packing its fruit snacks in Halloween packs for easy trick-or-treating. While they still contain corn syrup and sugar, the first ingredient is lots of real fruit, and they are fat free (ahem … for moms who might want to steal a bag once in awhile!).
How about “organic,” certified Gluten Free, non-GMO, vegan and corn syrup-free candy that actually tastes good??? Look to TruSweets® for gummy treats (worms, spiders, bears and more) and Starburst-like fruit chews that will take the guilt out of any candy bowl.
Another brand my kids love is YumEarth®. Their Lollipops, Hard Candy, Sour Beans, Gummy Bears/Worms and Candy Corn are all made in a gluten free facility and are made without corn syrup, using natural food dyes; check their website for other candy options and allergens.
DumDums lollipops are also gluten free and those that are packed by the Spangler Candy Company are free of the Top 8 Food Allergens, but they are made with corn syrup and artificial dyes. Be sure to check their website and packaging for updated allergen information.
And last year marked a great new release: mini chocolates from Enjoy Life Foods® that are all free of the Top 8 Food Allergens (and free of gluten). Plus, super cute packaging!
Mind you, I’m not a candy buyer any other time of the year — I’ve been known to hand out more than my share of stickers and glow sticks when kids come knocking on October 31 — but when companies take the trouble to assure me that they have made their product gluten free (and therefore, that they want my business) I’ll give it to them any day before I would other companies who cannot bother to prevent cross-contamination or take the risk to state that their product is gluten free when it really is.
Some of the companies I love for their clear labeling and mission include Free2B®, which even offers organic, dairy-free dark chocolate peanut butter cups sold in 10-packs and mini bags that are perfect for Halloween night!
And SunButter® makes Sun Cups for those who are nut-free but really crave a chocolate-nut butter treat!
And Unreal® makes a plethora of pretty delicious vegan chocolate mocks of your favorites like chocolate-peanut butter cups, candy covered chocolate gems (like M&Ms).
All fair trade, non-GMO, and no artificial colors or flavors. Their cups are certified GF from GFCO (gems are made in a shared facility with wheat and NOT certified GF) and the dark chocolate varieties are vegan, but they are working on changing their production facilities, so check each package for the latest certifications. Three cheers for that!
Or how about a vegan and gluten free mock M&M? NoWhey Foods makes Chocononos™ that are just that! Vegan, all natural, and made with milk free, nut free, gluten free, wheat free, soy free chocolate. They also make vegan peanut butter cups and Halloween figurines (and Easter chocolates, too! so you may want to bookmark their page).
Lots to choose from in fun seasonal packaging that would look great in a Teal Pumpkin.
And speaking of Teal Pumpkins …
If you’d rather go the food-free, allergy-friendly route this holiday, go for it! You’ll have the support of thousands, and you should be sure to paint a pumpkin teal for your front porch!
FARE (Food Allergy Research Education) is sponsoring the #TealPumpkinProject to promote safe trick-or-treating stops for food allergy kids. When they see a teal pumpkin, they know the loot they’ll rake in won’t make them sick and parents can relax, knowing their little ghouls will be safe at that house.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of gluten free Halloween candy choices to make your Halloween tasty, sticky and fun without being scared about whether they contain ingredients that would make your night go sour.
Even those sugar-high-averse parents among us can feel safe grabbing Angie’s Kettle Corn Snack Packs (certified GF!), Pirate’s Booty® Bags or even potato chips!
Or… gluten free, vegan chickpea snacks from Hippeas!
To make the task of finding the right treats for your family easy-breezy, check out these resources and their Gluten Free Candy Lists:
Print a list, hit the stores, and enjoy the spirit of the holiday! Grab that York Peppermint Patty, Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Angies’ Kettle Corn Snack Pack, Marshmallow Peep, Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kiss … or whatever suits your fancy. Happy Haunting!
I hope you found this list helpful! Remember to Pin it for later!