by Jane Anderson, Updated September 10th, 2017
Each year, it seems like more manufacturers identify candy as gluten-free, widening the choices for candy-loving kids and parents alike. Today, those who follow the 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-labeled 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, on Halloween night, or before the holidays, it's helpful to know which ones are safe, given that there's no easy way to test food for gluten.
Here are the latest U.S. gluten-free lists of candies, plus links to manufacturers' websites. If you're looking specifically for Christmas, Valentine's, Easter or other holiday candy, head to the bottom for holiday-specific links, including candy canes, Easter bunnies, and candy gift boxes.
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, note that candy listed as gluten-free on the U.S. list may not be gluten-free in other countries, including Canada.
Always check the packaging and ingredients before consuming any candy, even if it does appear on this list.
Hershey's maintains a list of gluten-free candies and updates it several times each year. The following list of Hershey's candies are considered gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million:
- Almond Joy (all except for Almond Joy Pieces candy)
- Mounds (all)
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses
- Hershey's Special Dark Kisses (but not the Special Dark candy bar; see below)
- Hershey's Filled Chocolate Kisses, only in the following flavors: Milk Chocolate, Chocolate Filled with Caramel, Chocolate Filled with Cherry Cordial Creme, Vanilla Creme, Dark Chocolate Filled with Mint Truffle, Pumpkin Spice (available in the fall), Meltaway Milk Chocolates, Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate
- Hershey's Hugs
- Hershey's Nuggets, only in the following flavors: milk chocolate, milk chocolate with almonds, special dark chocolate with almonds, and extra creamy milk chocolate with toffee and almonds)
- 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 Air Delight
- Hershey's Milk Duds (all)
- Heath Bars (all)
- Payday (all)
- Reese's Fast Break bar
- Reese's Nutrageous bar
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (all except for Reese's unwrapped minis and seasonal shaped items, such as Valentine's hearts)
- Reese's Pieces (all except for Reese's Pieces Eggs)
- Rolo Caramels in Milk Chocolate (all except for Rolo Minis)
- Skor Toffee Bar (all)
- York Peppermint Pattie (all except for York Pieces candies, York Minis, and York Shapes)
- Hershey's Special Dark Bar (note that this is confusing, since several other Special Dark products are considered gluten-free, so make sure you know what you're buying)
- Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme Bar
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate Drops
- Hershey's Miniatures (any flavor, including flavors that are considered gluten-free in larger sizes)
- Mr. Goodbar
- Symphony Bar
- Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate
Generally with Hershey's, you always 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 will disclose shared equipment or shared facilities on the label. Hershey's gluten-free list also includes baking chips and bars, cocoa products and syrup. Always check the list prior to buying, as items seem to change frequently.
Contact Hershey's at 800-468-1714 if you have specific questions.
Mars Chocolate makes M&M's, Dove, Snickers, and other products. The company does not maintain a gluten-free list of products; instead, it 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 considered gluten-free, in busy times of year (such as Halloween) Mars uses additional alternative facilities to make its candy, and some of those facilities may introduce cross-contamination risks (I've seen this occur frequently with 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 EXCEPT for pretzel-flavored M&M's, which contain wheat, and crispy M&M's, which contain barley malt. Note that some special seasonal and temporary flavors also have a risk of gluten cross-contamination because they're made on equipment or in facilities that also use gluten-containing ingredients. For example, in 2017 some special flavors available in some stores, such as Mint M&Ms, were labeled "may contain traces of wheat." This has been common over the past three to four years for M&Ms, so you can't just assume they're safe any longer. Always check the label!
- 3 Musketeers Bars (all flavors)
- Milky Way Midnight Bar (not the original Milky Way 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)
- M&M Pretzel flavor and some M&M seasonal flavors (see above)
- Some packages of seasonal flavored M&Ms—in the past this has included White Chocolate, Mint and M&M Coconut flavors
- Milky Way Bar (original)
- Mars Bar
- Mars Combos (a snack mix)
Contact Mars Chocolate at 800-627-7852.
Nestle USA labels a handful of candies and chocolate as "gluten-free," meaning the company has tested them and confirmed that they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. These candies include:
- Butterfinger bars, but only in fun size, singles, and share pack (Butterfinger Bites, Butterfinger Minis, Butterfinger Cups, and special holiday-shaped Butterfinger items are NOT considered gluten-free)
- Nips (including both regular and sugar-free)
- Raisinets (including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate flavors)
- Toll House morsels and chunks (most, including the popular semi-sweet and milk chocolate morsels, are labeled gluten-free—look for those with a "gluten-free" designation)
Nestle will label potential gluten cross-contamination, a customer service representative says. In addition, Nestle says it will disclose all gluten ingredients (not just those containing wheat) on its products' labels.
The following Nestle candies have no gluten ingredients:
- Baby Ruth
- Milk Chocolate
- Oh Henry!
- Wonka Pixy Stix
- Laffy Taffy (including Laffy Taffy Rope)
- Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip
- Butterfinger Crisp Bar
- Butterfinger Giant Bar
- Butterfinger Snackerz
- Butterfinger Medallions
- Butterfinger Jingles
- Butterfinger Hearts
- Butterfinger Pumpkins
- Kit Kat Bar
- Wonka Nerds
- Wonka Bar (all flavors)
- Chewy Spree
- Wonka Gummies
- Wonka Kazoozles
- Everlasting Gobstopper
- 100 Grand Bar
Note that there's some controversy over whether Sweetarts should appear on the "not gluten-free" or the "no gluten ingredients" list. Sweetarts contain both maltodextrin and dextrin, which can be made from wheat and barley (although they're highly processed ingredients that would be rendered legally gluten-free by that processing).
Nestle does not include Sweetarts on the "gluten-free" list but does not provide any additional information on the product beyond the ingredients list, so you'll need to use your best judgment on whether to consume them. Some people seem to do fine with them, while others do not.
Contact Nestle USA at 800-225-2270 if you have specific questions.
Tootsie Roll Industries
Tootsie Roll Industries, which also makes Charms products, says that, as of 2017, all of the companies confections are considered gluten-free except 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
- Junior Mints
- Tropical Dots
- Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Cella's Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Junior Mints
- Dubble Bubble
- 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 (with some exceptions, see below) 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 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.
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 all Wrigley products in the U.S. are considered gluten-free except for Altoids Smalls Peppermint Mints (which always have contained the gluten ingredient wheat maltodextrin).
Wrigley also makes:
- Creme Savers
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 (for Valentine's Day only)
- Conversation Hearts (available for Valentine's Day only)
- Mary Jane peanut butter kisses (for Halloween only)
Ferrara Candy Company
Ferrara makes such brands as Bob's (well-known for candy canes) and Brach's. According to the company, the following candies contain no wheat, rye, barley or oats:
- Candy canes (Bob's, Brach's, Lemonhead & Friends, Red Hots)—these also are considered allergen-free
- Atomic Fireballs
- All gummies (Black Forest, Ferrara, Sathers, Trolli)
- All jellies (Gum Drops, Orange Slices)
- Bob's Sweet Stripes
- Boston Baked Beans (contains peanuts)
- Brach's Wild 'N Fruity Gummi Worms
- Brach's Candy Corn (processed in a facility that also processes wheat)
- Brach's Cinnamon Disks/Imperials
- Brach's Conversation Hearts
- Brach's Jelly Bean Nougats (processed in a facility that processes wheat)
- Brach's Lemon Drops (Kosher)
- Brach's Halloween Mellowcremes (processed in a facility that processes wheat)
- Cherry Sours
- Fruit Snacks (Ferrara, Black Forest, Trolli)
- Jelly Beans
- Lemonheads & Friends Conversation Hearts
- Tropical Chewy Lemonhead
- Chewy Lemonhead & Friends
- Berry Chewy Lemonhead
- Now & Later
- Red Hot's
Impact makes Warheads sour candies, which always seem to wind up in our Halloween stash. Many of the company's products are considered gluten-free, but be careful, as multiple candies have similar names but very different allergen profiles:
- Carousel/Color-Blaster Pops (considered gluten-free)
- Lollipop Paint Shop (considered gluten-free; made on equipment that processes soy)
- Warheads Extreme Sour Hard Candy (considered gluten-free; contains soy; equipment shared with peanut and milk products)
- Warheads Extreme Sour Hard Candy Minis (considered gluten-free; equipment shared with milk and soy products)
- Warheads Sour Chewy Cubes (considered gluten-free; equipment shared with peanut products)
- Warheads Sour Jelly Beans (made in facility shared with wheat, peanuts, milk, egg and soy)
- Warheads Super Sour Double Drops (considered gluten-free; facility shared with egg products)
- Warheads Super Sour Spray Candy (considered gluten-free)
- Warheads Sour Dippers (considered gluten-free; equipment shared with soy products)
- Warheads Sour Candy Canes (contain soy; made in facility shared with wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, and soy)
- Melster Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow (considered gluten-free; contains milk and soy, made on equipment that also processes peanuts)
- Melster Compound-Coated Marshmallow (considered gluten-free; contains milk and soy, made on equipment that also processes peanuts)
- Melster Chocolate-Covered Creme Drops (considered gluten-free; contains milk and soy, made on equipment that also processes peanuts)
- Melster Compound Coated Creme Drops (considered gluten-free; contains milk and soy, made on equipment that also processes peanuts)
- Melster Salt Water Taffy (considered gluten-free; contains milk and soy, made on equipment that also processes peanuts)
- Melster Peanut Butter Kisses (considered gluten-free; contains peanuts, milk and soy)
- Melster Circus Peanuts (considered gluten-free; contains peanuts, made on equipment that processes milk and soy)
- Melster Sanded Marshmallow (considered gluten-free; made on equipment that processes peanuts, milk and soy)
- Melster Coconut Toasties (considered gluten-free; made on equipment that processes peanut, milk and soy)
- Warheads Sour Twists (contains wheat)
- Warheads Sour Coolers (contains oat fiber)
Contact Impact at 303-626-2222.
Tic 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 (a form of wheat).
Contact Ferrero at 732-764-9300.
Justin's Nut Butters
This isn't technically a candy, but stores sell Justin's Nut Butters gluten-free-certified peanut butter cups around Halloween as treats. The product choices include:
- dark chocolate peanut butter cups
- milk chocolate peanut butter cups
- white chocolate peanut butter cups
- mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups
- mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups
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, all the company's marshmallow candies that are safe from cross-contamination will state "gluten-free" on the package by the ingredients listing (Note: recently, I've run across numerous packages of Peeps that carry this warning: "May contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy and wheat." The ones with this warning are usually the more exotic flavors. Definitely double-check the packaging on all Peeps, even if the product is something that has stated "gluten-free" in the past.). 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
Sweet's Candy Co.
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. 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.
Gourmet Chocolate and Holiday CandyAs you've no doubt realized, some chocolate candies are gluten-free while others are not. My article Is Chocolate Gluten-Free? explains this confusing phenomenon. Still, if you're in doubt about the gluten-free status of a product, contact the manufacturer's customer service personnel directly at the numbers listed with each entry above.
Finally, check out these lists of different candies and holiday products:
- Gluten-Free Candy Canes
- Gluten-Free Candy Boxes (boxed candy you might give as gifts)
- 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
Special Thanks to Jane Anderson