Each year, it seems like more manufacturers identify candy as gluten-free, widening the choices for candy-loving kids and parents alike. As of February 2014, 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 usually possible to find gluten-free specialty candies, such as the gluten-free, vegan lollipops available from Yummy Earth. But since your friends, neighbors and school likely will pass out more mainstream treats on Valentine's Day or on Halloween night, it's helpful to know which ones are safe.
Here are the latest U.S. gluten-free lists of candies, 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.
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.
Check out these lists of different candies and holiday products:
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Bars (premium and gourmet chocolate bar options)
- Gluten-Free Gum (all types of gum)
- Gluten-Free Valentines Candy
- Gluten-Free Easter Candy
- Create A Gluten-Free Easter Basket
- Gluten-Free Candy Canes
- Gluten-Free Candy Boxes (boxed candy you might give as gifts)
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 and promises to call out any wheat, barley and rye ingredients by name, as well as any cross-contamination risks, on the label. 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 facilities may introduce cross-contamination risks (I've seen this frequently on flavored M&M varieties). "The ingredient statement on each wrapper is the best source for this information," the company said in a statement.
In the past, these Mars Chocolate products have been gluten-free. However, I can't emphasize enough that you should always check the label before purchasing any of these products:
- M&M's (all EXCEPT for pretzel-flavored M&M's and some special flavors with a risk of gluten cross-contamination)
- 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 have NOT been gluten-free:
- M&M Pretzel flavor
- Some packages of M&M White Chocolate, Mint and M&M Coconut flavors
- Milky Way Bar (original)
- Mars Bar
- Mars Combos (a snack mix)
Always double-check the label. Note that plain M&Ms (in any color) actually meet the more stringent standards for gluten-free certification, which require the products to contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten.
Contact Mars Chocolate at 800-627-7852.
Tootsie Roll Industries, which also makes Charms products, says that, as of January 2014, all of the companies confections are considered gluten-free with the exception of Andes cookies. "Tootsie does not use wheat, barley, rye, oats, triticale, spelt, or any of their components, either as ingredients or as part of the manufacturing process. Corn and soy products are used during the manufacturing process," the company says.
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
These Tootsie Roll products also are peanut-free and nut-product free, according to the company.
Contact Tootsie Roll Industries at 773-838-3400.
Most of Smarties' line of products is considered gluten-free and vegan in the U.S. (see note below for information on Canada), and is made in a gluten-free facility, 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 (along with peanuts, milk and soy).
Note that Smarties sold in Canada contain wheat flour — always check the label to make sure you're buying the gluten-free type.
Contact Smarties through the company's website.
After several years of listing only a few products as gluten-free, Hershey's in 2012 began publishing a gluten-free list that included several more products. Since then, the company has regularly added to its list. The following list of Hershey's candies are considered gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million:
- Almond Joy (all)
- Mounds (all)
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
- Hershey's Filled Chocolate Kisses (only caramel and cherry cordial creme, NOT Hugs, Special Dark, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, or Cookies & Cream)
- Hershey's Nuggets (all varieties)
- 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
- Hershey's Milk Duds
- Heath Bars
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (all except for seasonal shaped items, such as Valentine's hearts)
- Reese's Pieces
- Rolo Caramels in Milk Chocolate (all except for Minis)
- Skor Toffee Bar
- York Peppermint Pattie (all except for York Pieces, York Minis and York Shapes)
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
Generally with Hershey's, you need to avoid seasonal items such as Cadbury Creme Eggs (both Easter and Halloween versions) and Reese's pumpkin-shaped candies — even if their ingredients are free of gluten, they likely are manufactured on shared lines or in a shared facility.
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. Always check the list prior to buying, as items seem to change frequently.
Contact Hershey's at 800-468-1714.
Although Wrigley's online gluten-free statement is pretty cagey (saying most products are gluten-free but some might not be, and failing to specify which is which), a statement provided to me by a customer service representative says that as of October 2013, all Wrigley products in the U.S. are considered gluten-free except for Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints (which always have contained gluten in the form of wheat maltodextrin).
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). Jelly Belly also makes gluten-free candy corn for Halloween.
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 2013 all the company's marshmallow candies that are safe from cross-contamination will state "gluten-free" on the package by the ingredients listing (Note: I've never run across a package of Peeps that doesn't say "gluten-free" ... but I definitely recommend you check anyway). 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 888-645-3453Tic Tac Mints
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.
Sweet's Candy makes salt water taffy, chocolate jelly sticks, jelly beans, gummy bears and other candies. All are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, which requires products to contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. A customer service representative tells me that Sweet's makes only gluten-free products, but does package other products (some of which may contain gluten) in the same facility.
Contact Sweet's at 855-772-7720.