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Halloween for Celiacs: Beware of Hidden Gluten!

Halloween is my #1 favorite holiday: the costumes, the decorations, the spooky atmosphere, the fall foliage, and yes, of course, the treats. 

Halloween can bring with it a lot of situations where we are faced with new products that we are unfamiliar with. Parties, trick or treating, school events, and buying candy are just a few of the circumstances where we may find ourselves asking, "Is this gluten-free?" 

Adhering to a gluten-free diet doesn't mean you have to skip out on all the Halloween fun. We've compiled some tips and tricks to help ensure accidentally eating gluten is one thing you do not have to be afraid of! 

But, before we get into that, we want to mention the Teal Pumpkin Project. By putting a teal pumpkin in front of your house, you will let others know that your treats are safe for children with food allergies! Isn't that a great idea!


1. Know Your Ingredients

While searching for gluten in ingredients may feel like second nature at this point, there can often be hidden ingredients in chocolates and candy that you wouldn't think to look for. Gluten in candy is often disguised as barley malt, which is used as a sweetener. Barley malt can be found in Whoppers, Nestle Crunch and 100 Grand, to name a few. Also, even if a candy bar is gluten-free, it may have other variations that are not. While Butterfinger does not contain gluten, it's counterpart Butterfinger Crisp contains barley malt. 

Some candies that you wouldn't assume contain gluten actually do, like licorice. Popular brands like Twizzlers and Red Vines both contain gluten. Brands like YumEarth gluten-free licorice provide a delicious option for gluten-free trick or treaters and come in tasty flavors like peach and pomegranate. 

Other ingredients to avoid are caramel syrup and wheat derived glucose syrup. Candies to avoid besides the above mentioned include Airheads, Candy Corn, Twix, Mini Rolos, Kit-Kats, Wonka Nerds, Wonka Sweet Tarts, Milky Way and Good & Plenty. This list is in no way conclusive, so remember to always read ingredients and allergen information! 

The good news is, there is a long list of candy that you can safely indulge in this Halloween:

  • M&Ms
  • Fruit Roll Ups
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Pez Candy
  • Dum Dum Lollipops 
  • Starburst Fruit Chews
  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids 
  • Warheads
  • Gimbal Jelly Beans
  • Rolos (Original, individually wrapped)
  • Snickers (Original)
  • Dove Chocolate
  • Baby Ruth
  • Butterfingers (Original)
  • Goobers
  • Laffy Taffy
  • 3 Musketeers 
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Smarties (but beware Smarties made by Nestle - they are not gluten-free)! 
  • Almond Joy
  • Hershey's Kisses
  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  • Mounds Bars
  • Mike & Ikes
  • Starburst
  • York Peppermint Patties

To make sure your house is prepared for gluten-free Trick or Treaters, pick up some Halloween Hershey's Kisses or YumEarth Organic Mini Bags

2. Be Especially Wary of Seasonal Products 

Candy makers will sometimes change their manufacturing facilities in order to make seasonal versions of their candies. That means that even if the ingredients themselves haven't changed, the facilities may have and this may lead to cross contamination issues that aren't a concern during the rest of the year. 

For example, while Reese's Peanut Buttercups are usually gluten-free, their pumpkin shaped Halloween counterparts are not. Additionally, seasonal Halloween bags with mixes of mini-bars can be problematic for those avoiding gluten. While it may look like a bag of different types of Hershey bars, look carefully to make sure there aren't any with added gluten ingredients. 

So if your go-to gluten-free candy has a special holiday edition, be extra careful reading the ingredients to make sure that they have adhered to their usual ingredients and standards before indulging. 

3. Hand Out Non-Food Halloween Treats 

Trick or treaters are often dealing with all kinds of allergies and food intolerances. In addition to those with celiac, others may have lactose intolerance, and nut, soy or wheat allergies, among other things. Any parent of a child with food allergies or intolerances knows how difficult trick or treating can be for little ones. Having to give away most of their candy at the end of the night because it's dangerous for them to eat can be a difficult task for both the child and the parent! 

One way to give these kids a treat they are guaranteed to love is by handing out non-food items to trick or treaters. We love doing this at our house and it's such a treat to see the smiles on the faces of children who are often times unable to eat much of the candy they are handed out.

Some great ideas for non-food treats are Halloween stickers or spooky glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos

When your children come home from Trick or Treating, be sure to give their candy a thorough look-over before letting them indulge. And, while we have a sweet tooth as much as anyone, sticking to a piece or two a day means that the candy can last for weeks!! 

Have a Happy, Gluten-Free Halloween! 


Learn more about supplements for people with Celiac and gluten-sensitivity. 


Judy Smither:

Not all Hershey chocolate bars are gluten free, just the 1.55 oz.?
Understand Snickers are GF unless contain a listed GF ingredient. Almond Snickers are GF.

Oct 25, 2016


GREAT article!!!

Oct 25, 2016

Bev Lieven :

Note on M &’s…Bags of regular colors/flavors are g.f., while bags of seasonal colors and “minor” flavors carry allergen flags that include wheat. Those are done on a short-run production line that can include products with gluten ingredients…

Oct 25, 2016

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