Updated: Feb 10, 2020
(updated for 2020)
Just when you tossed (or ate?!) the last of the Halloween candy, another candy-giving holiday is on the horizon. 💕Valentines Day💕 is Friday! Holidays are notoriously tricky when following a gluten free diet, especially for the kiddos. I never want my Celiac kids to feel left out, but I also want them to eat safely. Honestly, no one should feel left out of the holiday fun, grown ups included! Candy in particular can be confusing and dangerous territory. Here are a few things to watch out for when shopping for Valentine's treats, as well as some reliable lists of safe and unsafe popular Valentine's candy treats. As always, the best rule of thumb is, when in doubt, check the packaging and/or call the company.
There are so many lists of gluten free Valentine's candy available online, some of which contain conflicting information. To be as accurate as possible, I reviewed many different lists, and went to the source company website to confirm gluten content where I saw a conflict. I have highlighted a few popular candies here, and the rest can be found in the article links below....
Lindt Lindor Truffles (with the exception of the White Chocolate variety) contain "Malt Barley Powder" - NOT Gluten Free. This was particularly devastating for my family because these were a favorite from "Before". Thankfully there are safe alternatives!
If you just can't live without your Valentine's truffles or need to send a GF gift, check out No Whey Foods Allergen Free Valentine's Signature Truffles. Not only are they GF, they are also dairy, nut and soy free. The ordering deadline has passed for shipments from their website to arrive by Valentines Day, but it looks like you can get them from their Amazon storefront by Friday (extra shipping charges apply).
Another option is AlterEco Truffles, available online or at Whole Foods. They ARE GF, Non-GMO, Soy Free and made with coconut oil vs palm oil.
Conversation hearts are a signature Valentine's Day treat. Historically, Necco Conversation hearts have been the go-to GF brand, but were unavailable last year due to the bankruptcy and sale of the Necco Company to Spangler Candy. The plan was to have them back on the market for 2020, but due to a series of events, that did not happen. You can read all about it here. Look for them to make a comeback in 2021! If you really can't live without your Necco hearts, I have read that since so many were produced up until 2018 AND they have a long shelf life (translation- these are made out of pretty unhealthy stuff!), you can find them in bulk in Amazon and other online sources.
Brach's was considered not to be gluten free prior to 2018. While Brach's does not label their conversation hearts as gluten free, their current ingredient list does not appear to contain gluten or to be processed in a facility that contains wheat. According to this article by "Hold the Gluten", the author spoke directly to Ferrara Candy Co (owner of Brach's) and confirmed that Conversation Hearts contain only corn gluten and are not processed in a facility that uses wheat. Use your best judgment here, and of course be vigilant in checking packaging, as we know that ingredients can change over time.
Buyer Beware: Popular candy treats that you enjoy regularly as gluten free, have holiday versions that are not Gluten Free (what?!)
For example, Hershey's Reese's Peanut butter cups are gluten free, as are those in the Valentine's day wrappers, BUT the heart shaped Reese's are not considered gluten free, nor are the unwrapped mini's. Why? These holiday products are licensed and manufactured by companies other than Hershey's. If that's just waaay too much to get your head around, try my personal pick for peanut butter cups: Justins. Organic, Gluten Free, Non-GMO and so exceptionally good, you won't miss the heart shaped packaging!
Some of the trickiest candies are those brands where some of the varieties are gluten free, while others are not.
Hershey Kisses - Hershey's deems all milk chocolate kisses to be gluten free, regardless of the color of the wrapper. The Filled "Chocolate Truffle" variety and Lava Cake Kisses are not gluten free. Hershey's has an informative listing on their website with PLENTY of GF options, so be sure to check it out before you buy.
A big surprise to me, that spans candy consumption beyond V-Day: Hershey's Special Dark bars are NOT GF. Hershey Milk Chocolate bars are only GF 1.55oz only and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds in 1.45oz only. Rolos, a loyal gluten free friend, remain GF, but Rolo Mini's - NOPE! Better to know, right?
Dove Chocolate is typically a safe bet. I find their chocolate to be smooth and rich. Per trusted source VeryWellFit.com "Dove, a division of Mars Chocolate, makes all of its Dove chocolate bars and other products gluten-free to 20 parts per million. However, you always should check labels, the company says, since production timing might require the company to use an alternative processing facility that has a cross-contamination risk. Dove will disclose any potential gluten cross-contamination on its label."
After reviewing several lists, I found the following to be the most up to date and comprehensive for most popular candy brands. These are not exhaustive lists, but definitely provide a ton of good info to make informed decisions when buying your Valentine's day treats. Company websites and FAQ pages are always a good place to visit.
~Happy Valentines Day, Love GFSavvyMama