Each year, it seems like more manufacturers identify candy as gluten-free, widening the choices for candy-loving kids and parents alike. As of March 2013, those who follow a gluten-free diet have numerous choices, including various long-time kid favorites such as Nestle's Butterfinger candy bars and Jelly Belly jelly beans.
It's always possible to find gluten-free specialty candies, such as the gluten-free, vegan gummy bears available from Let's Do Organic and the gluten-free, low-sugar fudge sold by Diabetic Direct. But since your neighbors likely will pass out more mainstream treats on Halloween night, it's helpful to know which ones are safe.
Here are the latest U.S. gluten-free lists of candies as of March 2013, plus links to manufacturers' websites.
However, please remember to use these lists only as a guide, since ingredients and formulas can change at any time. In some cases, a product made at one location may be listed as gluten-free, while the same product made at a different location may not be gluten-free. Also, candy listed as gluten-free on the U.S. list may not be gluten-free in other countries. Always check the packaging and ingredients before consuming any candy, even if it does appear on this list.
If you're looking for the gluten-free status of specific candy (including holiday products), check out these lists:
Gluten-Free Chocolate Bars (premium and gourmet chocolate bar options)
Gluten-Free Valentines Candy
Gluten-Free Easter Candy
Create A Gluten-Free Easter Basket
Gluten-Free Candy Canes
Gluten-Free Candy Boxes
Also, my article Is Chocolate Gluten-Free, or Does Chocolate Contain Gluten? explains why some chocolate candies are gluten-free while others are not. Always, if in doubt about the gluten-free status of a product, contact the manufacturer's customer service personnel directly at the numbers listed below.
Nestle USA considers "gluten-free" to mean "no gluten ingredients are in the product, whether directly added, or potentially present due to cross-contact. If a product label has an allergen advisory statement such as 'made on equipment' or 'facility that also processes wheat etc.,' we do not consider that product to be gluten-free. It is important to always read product labels/packaging for the most accurate information." Nestle will label potential gluten cross contamination, a customer service representative says.
- According to Nestle, the following candies are gluten-free:
- Baby Ruth
- Butterfinger Bar (original flavor only, NOT Crisp, Giant Bar, Snakerz, Medallions, Jingles, Hearts or Pumpkins)
- Milk Chocolate
- Nips (including both regular and sugar-free)
- Oh Henry!
- Raisinets (including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate flavors)
- Wonka Pixy Stix
- Laffy Taffy (including Laffy Taffy Rope)
- Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip
- The following Nestle candy products are NOT gluten-free:
- Butterfinger Crisp Bar
- Butterfinger Giant Bar
- Butterfinger Snackerz
- Butterfinger Medallions
- Butterfinger Jingles
- Butterfinger Hearts
- Butterfinger Pumpkins
- Wonka Nerds
- Wonka Bar (all flavors)
- Chewy Spree
- Wonka Gummies
- Wonka Kazoozles
- Everlasting Gobstopper
- 100 Grand Bar
In some of these products, the ingredients themselves are gluten-free, but the candies are processed in a facility that also processes gluten.
Contact Nestle USA at 800-225-2270.
Mars Chocolate makes M&M's, Dove, Snickers and other products. The company urges gluten-free consumers to check labels, even if a product normally is gluten-free; in busy times of year (such as Halloween), Mars uses alternative facilities to make its candy, and some of those may introduce cross-contamination risks. The company says it will label any gluten ingredients or cross-contamination.
Warning: At least some packages of two relatively new varieties of M&Ms coconut and mint flavors include the warning "May contain wheat" on their labels as of October 2012. Other varieties including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut and almond don't contain that warning. In addition, I saw Mars several seasonal products, including M&Ms candy corn, that featured the "May contain wheat" warning. Always read the label before purchasing.
- According to Mars Chocolate, the following candies are gluten-free:
- M&M's (all EXCEPT for pretzel-flavored M&M's)
- 3 Musketeers Bars (all flavors)
- Milky Way Midnight Bar
- Milky Way Caramel Bar
- Dove Chocolate products (all flavors EXCEPT for milk chocolate cinnamon graham/cookies and cream)
- Snickers Bars (all flavors)
- Munch Nut Bar (the customer service representative urges consumers to check the labels on this one)
- The following Mars Chocolate products are NOT gluten-free:
- M&M Pretzel flavor
- Some packages of M&M Mint and M&M Coconut flavors
- Milky Way Bar (original)
- Mars Bar
- Mars Combos (a snack mix)
Contact Mars Chocolate at 800-627-7852.
Tootsie Roll Industries, which also makes Charms products, says that, as of October 2012, all of the companies confections are considered gluten-free with the exception of Andes cookies. "We do not use wheat, barley, rye, oats, triticale, spelt or any of their components and that includes our dusting on our conveyor belts. We do use corn and soy products in the manufacturing of our products."
- According to Tootsie Rolls Industries, the following candies are gluten-free:
- Tootsie Rolls
- Fruit Rolls
- Tropical Dots
- Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Cella's 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 Pops
- Sugar Mama Caramels
- Charms Squares
- Charms Sour Balls
- Charms Candy Carnival
- Pops Galore
- Sugar Babies
Contact Tootsie Roll Industries at 773-838-3400.
Most of Smarties' line of products is considered gluten-free and vegan, according to the company. However, Smarties sells its products to different "re-baggers" as well as various retail outlets. Since a re-bagger buys products from many different companies and then places them in different packaging, only re-baggers can verify whether their manufacturing plants are free of gluten or other allergens. "If the UPC number on the packaging begins with '0 11206,' you can be assured that the product was packaged in one of our manufacturing facilities," which means it should be gluten-free," the company says. Smarties Gummies contain no gluten ingredients, but are manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat-containing products.
Contact Smarties through the company's website.
After several years of listing only a few products as gluten-free, Hershey's published a gluten-free list as of March 2012 that includes several more products, mainly Hershey's Kisses varieties. As of October 2012, the following list of Hershey's candies are gluten-free:
- Almond Joy (all)
- Mounds (all)
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
- Hershey's Filled Chocolate Kisses (caramel and cherry cordial creme)
- Hershey's Nuggets
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, only in the 1.55 oz. size
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bar, only in the 1.45 oz. size
- Heath Bars
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (all except for seasonal shaped items)
- Skor Toffee Bar
- York Peppermint Pattie (all)
- The following Hershey's products are 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
Hershey's says it will list any ingredients containing wheat, barley, rye, oats and malt on the label, and also will disclose shared equipment or shared facilities on the label. Hershey's gluten-free list includes baking chips and bars, cocoa products and syrup; you can access the list here.
Contact Hershey's at 800-468-1714.
Wrigley makes chewing gum and other candy products (for more on gluten-free gum, see the link above). According to the company, "all U.S. Wrigley chewing gum and confection products have been assessed to be gluten-free with the exception of the products listed below, which contain ingredient(s) derived from wheat or are made on shared equipment that also processes products with wheat and may contain trace amounts of gluten." Here's the list of Wrigley products that do contain gluten:
- Altoids Chocolate Dipped Mints (made on equipment that also processes wheat)
- Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints (contains wheat maltodextrin)
- Hubba Bubba Gummi Tape Candy (contains wheat flour and wheat fiber)
- Lucas and Swinkles Branded Candy Strips (contains wheat flour and wheat fiber)
Note that Wrigley makes Creme Savers, Lifesavers, Skittles and Starburst, which in the U.S. are free of any gluten sources, according to the company.
Contact Wrigley at (800) 974-4539.
Jelly Belly makes jelly beans in an ever-expanding array of colors and flavors. According to the company, "all Jelly Belly beans are gluten-free, dairy-free, gelatin-free, vegetarian and OU Kosher." This includes licorice-flavored gluten-free Jelly Belly jelly beans (in most cases, licorice candy contains wheat).
However, other Jelly Belly candies, including Chocolate Malt Balls, Chocolate Bridge Mix, Licorice Bridge Mix, Black Licorice Buttons and Licorice Pastels, are NOT gluten-free. In addition, seasonal mixes sold around the holidays contain the malt balls, and so are not gluten-free.
Contact Jelly Belly at 800-522-3267.
Necco probably is best known for its small sugar Valentine heart candies – the pastel-colored ones that say "Be Mine" and "True Love" – but my daughter's candy stash often turns up a few Necco products every Halloween, as well.
- According to Necco, the following products do not contain gluten from wheat, rye, oats or barley:
- Necco Wafers
- Necco Chocolate Wafers
- Candy House Candy Buttons
- Canada Mint, Wintergreen and Spearmint Lozenges
- Mary Jane
- Mary Jane Peanutbutter Kisses (available for Halloween only)
- Banana Splits Chews
- Mint Julep Chews
- Haviland Thin Mints, Wintergreen Patty, Nonpareils and Chocolate Stars
- Sweethearts Conversation Hearts (available for Valentine's Day only)
Contact Necco at 781-485-4800.
Peeps marshmallow treats, made by Just Born, used to appear only at Easter, but in recent years we've seen Halloween Peeps shaped like pumpkins and ghosts, Christmas Peeps in the shape of trees, and heart-shaped Peeps for Valentine's Day.
According to Just Born, as of October 2012 all the company's marshmallow candies that are safe from cross-contamination will state "gluten-free" on the package by the ingredients listing. The modified food starch used in the products is corn starch, according to the company. Just Born also makes Mike and Ike Candies.
- According to Just Born, the following candies are gluten-free:
- Mike and Ike Berry Blast
- Mike and Ike Italian Ice
- Mike and Ike Jolly Joes
- Mike and Ike Lemonade Blends
- Mike and Ike Original Fruits
- Mike and Ike Redrageous
- Mike and Ike Tangy Twister
- Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon
- Mike and Ike Zours
- Mike and Ike Jelly Beans
- Mike and Ike Hot Tamales
- Goldenberg's Vintage Peanut Chews
Contact Just Born at 888-645-3453
Tic Tac mints are produced by the Italian confection manufacturer Ferrero, and have been sold for more than 40 years.
According to the company, Tic Tac mints do not contain any ingredients derived from the gluten grains wheat, barley, rye, oats or triticale.
Contact Ferrero at 732-764-9300.