Christmas just wouldn't be the same without candy canes — those red-and-white mint treats look festive on the tree and taste great, too. But if you're following the gluten-free diet, you can't take anything for granted ... and that includes candy canes.
Fortunately, several different types of candy cane — both traditional and non-traditional — are gluten-free, and therefore safe for those of us with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity to eat.
There's one candy manufacturer that produces traditional candy canes, several that make them in different flavors (and rainbow colors), and one that makes a huge plastic candy cane filled with festively-wrapped chocolates.
The following is a rundown on which brands are considered gluten-free to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standard of less than 20 parts per million of gluten, with phone numbers to call if you want additional details on ingredients or processing.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any candy canes that are certified gluten-free (which would mean they would be tested to contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten, a more stringent standard). However, some of these are processed in dedicated gluten-free facilities (read more on this in Should You Eat Foods Made in a Shared Facility or on Shared Equipment?).
Also, if you want more information on which candy in general is safe on the gluten-free diet, check out my master gluten-free candy list.
1. Bobs Candy Canes
For traditional, red-and-white-striped, peppermint-flavored Christmas candy canes, it's hard to beat Bobs, part of Farley's & Sathers candy company. Bobs makes several different options, ranging from 12-packs of full-sized candy canes to huge tubs of mini candy canes. In fact, the company's red, white and green candies are billed as "the original candy cane."
All Bobs candy canes are considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million (GF-20 levels), without a possibility of cross-contamination from other gluten-containing products, according to a company spokesperson. Most are made in the same facility, and that facility does not process gluten-containing products, the spokesperson said.
Contact Farley's & Sathers at 888-247-9855.
2. Jelly Belly Candy Canes
Jelly Belly, best-known for its gourmet (and reliably gluten-free) jelly beans, offers gluten-free (GF-20 level) candy canes in six different flavors: Very Cherry, Juicy Pear, Cinnamon, Tutti Frutti, Blueberry and Watermelon. Although they're definitely not your traditional mint candy cane, these candies from Jelly Belly make a nice addition to your holiday candy assortment.
Of course, if you're looking for the taste of candy canes but don't care about the shape of the actual candy, you might want to consider a package of Jelly Belly jelly beans in candy cane flavor — they're available all year, not just during the holidays. Jelly Belly candies also are vegetarian-friendly and Kosher.
Contact Jelly Belly at 800-522-3267.
3. Starburst Candy Canes
I've always liked Starburst candy, which is made by Wrigley, and was glad to learn Starburst made the list of gluten-free candies. These Starburst candy canes, which come in a box of 12 (six strawberry and six green apple), also are gluten-free to GF-20 levels.
According to a spokesperson for Wrigley, Starburst and Starburst candy canes sold in the U.S. are free of any gluten sources, and are not produced on equipment that also processes gluten-containing items.
Contact Wrigley at 312-644-2121.
4. Lifesavers Candy Canes
Lifesavers also is a Wrigley product, and at holiday time the company makes colorful candy cane versions in cherry, watermelon, orange, pineapple and raspberry flavors.
Like Wrigley's Starburst candy canes, these Lifesavers candy canes are free of all gluten ingredients (considered gluten-free to GF-20 levels), and are not manufactured on shared equipment.
Again, you can contact Wrigley at 312-644-2121.
5. Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane
If you don't really want true candy canes, but want something festive for the holidays, maybe you want to consider a giant candy cane packed with Hershey's Kisses.
Plain chocolate kisses are one of the few candies on Hershey's gluten-free list, and a spokesperson for the company confirmed that the holiday-wrapped kisses in green and red foil are gluten-free, as well. Hershey's Kisses filled with caramel also made the gluten-free list. However, make sure you avoid the candy-cane-flavored Hershey's Kisses (in silver foil decorated with red candy canes) since they are not considered gluten-free by the company.
Contact Hershey's at 800-468-1714.