When I was a kid, Halloween meant a carnival at school featuring large black pots filled with smoking dry ice, a darkened haunted house where you put your hands in ketchup-covered spaghetti “guts”, and a church carnival featuring bobbing for apples in a bucket of water.
Our costumes were mostly homemade. Little Bo Peep was a favorite. Trick-or-treating included the occasional homemade popcorn ball or caramel apple. These treats were the best!
Of course, there were stories of razor blades in candy somewhere far, far away, but never a problem in our small town. The biggest danger we faced was getting excited and forgetting to watch for cars before we crossed the street.
I raised my children in a larger town. We were careful to limit our trick-or-treat stops to the homes of friends. Even then, we checked every wrapper to make sure it was sealed before the kids started their feast.
I’m sure that most poisoned candy stores are urban myth, but there are some real Halloween dangers – especially for celiac and gluten-intolerant children. Many popular candies are not gluten free. Brands that are normally safe sometimes use slightly different formulations during busy seasons. All of this is a bit scary. So how can we make Halloween less spooky for gluten-free kids?
If you have a tendency to want to keep the kids at home, I would encourage you to rethink. I always feel that it’s best to let our children feel as normal as possible. As long as you participate and set some boundaries, there’s no reason your little goblin can’t go trick-or-treating with his friends.
I doubt if you let your children dive in and eat all the candy they want to right away. Since you already have rules, it shouldn’t be hard to let those rules include some label reading. You can review ingredients for the little ones, and make label reading into a game for the older kids.
If you think you’ll get some protests about being deprived, you can offer a substitution program in which you trade piece for piece a gluten-free candy for a problem candy your child has in his bucket. Of course, I’m all in favor of limiting the amount of sugar your children are allowed as well.
If you’ll primarily be trick-or-treating at relatives’ houses, you can send them a list of acceptable candy in advance to make your job easier. To help you accomplish your mission, let’s start with these lists of popular candy brands to see how many gluten-free Halloween candy options we can find:
Gluten-Free: Almond Joy, Mounds, Milk Chocolate Kisses, Caramel Filled Chocolate Kisses, Cherry Cordial Creme Kisses, Hershey’s Nuggets, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds, Heath Bar, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (except for seasonal shapes), Skor, Skor Toffee Bar, York Peppermint Pattie
NOT Gluten-Free: Hershey’s Special Dark Bar, Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bar, Hershey’s Air Delight, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops, Hershey’s Miniatures, Mr. Goodbar, Symphony Bar, Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate, Kit Kat
Gluten-Free: All jelly beans are gluten-free and dairy free. Jelly Belly Candy Corn.
NOT Gluten-Free: Chocolate Malt Balls, Chocolate Bridge Mix, Licorice Bridge Mix, Licorice Buttons, Licorice Pastels or any mix containing malt balls.
Gluten-Free: Seasonal Peeps as noted on package. The following Mike and Ike’s – Berry Blast, Italian Ice, Jolly Joes, Lemonade Blends, Original Fruits, Redrageous, Tangy Twister, Tropical Typhoon, Zours, Hot Tamales, and Goldenberg’s Vintage Peanut Chews
NOT Gluten-Free: Any Peep not labeled GF.
Gluten-Free: Plain M&Ms meet the stringent standards for GF certification, additional M&Ms other than pretzel flavored or special flavors, All flavors of 3 Musketeers, Milky Way Midnight Bar, Milky Way Caramel Bar, All flavors of Snickers, Dove Chocolate products other than those containing graham or cookies, Munch Nut Bar unless noted
NOT Gluten-Free: M&M pretzel flavor, some packages of M&M White Chocolate, Mint, and M&M Coconut flavor, Milky Way Bar, Mars Bar, Mars Combos, Twix, Maltesers,
Please read labels on all Mars products.
GlutenFree: Necco Wafers, Necco Chocolate Wafers, Candy House Candy Buttons, Canada Mint, Wintergreen and Spearmint Lozenges, Mary Jane, Mary Jane Peanutbutter Kisses, Banana Splits Chews, Mint Julep Chews, Haviland Thin Mints, Wintergreen Patty, Nonpareils, Chocolate Stars, Skybar, Sweethearts Conversation Hearts
NOT Gluten-Free: Red Hot Cinnamon Bat-Wing Wafers, Sweethearts Mummy Hearts, Zombie Hearts, Mighty Malts, Clark Bars, Peach Blossoms, Haviland Bridge Mix, Haviland Real Chocolate Covered Raisins, Haviland Real Chocolate Double Dipped Peanuts, Slap Stix, Squirrel Nut Zippers
Gluten-Free: Baby Ruth, Bit-O-Honey, Original Flavor Butterfinger, Milk Chocolate, Goobers, Nips, Oh Henry!, Rasinets including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate, Sno-Caps, Wonka Pixy Stix, Laffy Taffy, Laffy Taffy Rope, Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, Runts
NOT Gluten-Free (or processed in a facility that processes gluten, read label): Butterfinger Crisp Bar, Butterfinger Giant Bar, Butterfinger Snackerz, Butterfinger Medallions, Butterfinger Jingles, Butterfinger Hearts, Butterfinger Pumpkins, Wonka Nerds, Sweetarts, All flavors of Wonka Bars, Chewy Spree, Wonka Gummies, Wonka Kazoozles, Everlasting Gobstopper, 100 Grand Bar, Nestle Crunch Bar
Gluten-Free: Salt Water Taffy, Chocolate Jelly Sticks, Jelly Beans, Gummy Bears are all certified GF
NOT Gluten Free: Candies packaged by Sweets, but not made by Sweets. Read labels.
Tootsie Roll Industries
Gluten-Free: All Tootsie Rolls and Charms products with the exception of Andes cookies. These Tootsie Roll products are also peanut and nut product free. Tootsie Rolls, Fruit Rolls, Frooties, Dots, Tropical Dots, Crows, Celia’s Milk or Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries, Junior Mints, Charleston Chew, Junior Caramels, Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Peppermint Pops, Caramel Apple Pops, Fruit Smoothie, Pops, Tropical Stormz Pops, Child’s Play, Charms Blow Pops, Charms Super Blow Pops, Charms Pops, Zip-A-Dee-Mini Pops, Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Mama, Charms Squares, Charms Sour Balls, Charms Candy Carnival, Pops Galore, Andes mints, Sugar Babies
NOT Gluten-Free: Andes Cookies
Gluten-Free: Cream Savers, Lifesavers, Skittles, Starburst, Altoids other than flavors listed below.
NOT Gluten-Free: Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints, Altoids Chocolate Dipped Covered Mints
As you can see, there’s quite a list of acceptable treats. All you have to do to make Halloween candy less spooky for your gluten-intolerant child is set some boundaries and use these lists as a reference. That’s not such a tough trick!
If you have a specific question about labeling or want a more definitive answer, you can contact these candy companies at the following numbers:
Jelly Belly 800-522-3267
Just Born 888-645-3453
Mars Chocolate 800-627-7852
Nestle USA 800-225-2270
Tootsie Roll Industries 773-838-3400
Mars Wrigley 800-974-4539
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”