by Kelley Lindberg
Easter is just around the corner, so that means it’s time for my annual Easter candy round-up!
If your kids are only allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, you can find plenty of safe Easter candy at grocery stores like Target or Smith’s (Walmart had very few choices this year, for some reason). Look for Hershey products – not all Hershey’s products are nut-free, but several are. At Target I found Hershey’s chocolate bunnies (a hollow gold-foil wrapped bunny and a solid Princess Bunny), Hershey’s foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, Hershey’s candy-coated chocolate eggs, a 6-pack of Hershey’s milk chocolate bunnies, and a 6-pack of Hershey’s marshmallow eggs. You can also find nut-free jelly beans, such as Starburst Jelly Beans, SweeTart Jelly Beans, and Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans in the grocery stores.
However, if you need to avoid milk, eggs, corn, or gluten, it gets harder. I did find three different flavors of Enjoy Life Foods' Boom Choco Choco bars at Whole Foods on 400 South in Salt Lake City this weekend, however, and those are free of the top 8 allergens, plus corn. (They're expensive, but great for a chocolate treat in an Easter basket!)
Luckily, there are several really good manufacturers and grocers online who offer allergy-friendly chocolates and candies for every holiday. So check out these sites, but be sure to order this week. Most sites say they can only promise delivery in time for Easter if you order by March 21.
Allergies and Me: This is a great find for gluten-free candy! Lots of gluten-free and other allergen-free candies, like licorice vines (in several flavors), lollipops, and bubble gum. This site is also a great place to find all sorts of gluten-free and allergen-friendly groceries. Update: Jamie Stern, from Allergies and Me, commented about some new chocolate they've added: "We have added several chocolate bars from Yamate Chocolatier - many are egg, diary, lactose, yeast free in addition to being gluten free..and some are vegan. They are good for those with a diabetic diet as well." (I added her update here in case you miss it in the Comments. Thanks, Jamie!)
Vermont Nut Free: Their chocolates are peanut-free and nut-free, but they do have milk and egg warnings on them. But their selection of nut-free chocolates is great – chocolate pops on a stick, bunnies, truffles, gold-foil-wrapped coins, toffee crunch bark, cream-filled chocolate eggs, etc. Even complete Easter baskets!
Divvies: Nut-free, dairy-free, and egg-free chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, gummy stars, and chocolate chips! Oh my!
AllerNeeds.com: This online grocer sells allergy-friendly foods from several vendors, but the best part is they sell Enjoy Life! Foods’ Boom Choco Boom chocolate bars in a variety pack of six bars. (Enjoy Life! Foods are free from the top 8 allergens.) They also sell some candy manufactured in Canada’s nut-free and peanut-free factories, so it’s worth checking out.
Amanda’s Own Confections: They offer a whole line of chocolate goodies for Easter and Passover, as well as jelly beans and other candies, all dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and gluten-free!
Chocolate Emporium: Read the ingredients carefully on this website, but they do offer a lot of kosher (parve) chocolate items for Passover, all of which are dairy-free, and most of which are gluten-free. Most of the Passover chocolates do, however, contain nut contamination, and some contain egg whites. The only Passover chocolate items that didn’t contain eggs, nuts, gluten, or dairy that I could find were the chocolate-covered raisins, chocolate-covered apricots, and chocolate chips. Their Easter chocolate list has a much larger number of items that are milk-free, nut-free, egg-free, and gluten-free, including bunnies, pops (chocolate shapes on a stick), foil-covered mini eggs, jelly beans, a bunny-shaped chocolate box filled with jelly beans, etc. Call before you order to ensure you get what you need. As an added bonus, all Easter items are kosher. Go figure.
Peanut Free Planet: This site sells candy from lots of different manufacturers, including Vermont Nut Free and Amanda’s Own. You’ll find chocolate, jelly beans, and all sorts of allergen-friendly groceries.
Yummy Earth: Yummy Earth candies (lollipops, gummy bears) are corn-free, as well as being free from the big 8, and they use natural colorings and flavorings. They’re available in health food stores, but the lollipops are cheaper on Amazon.com here: Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops; Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Bears.
Oriental Trading Co.: Remember, Easter eggs and Easter baskets don’t have to be filled with candy. Oriental Trading Company offers a bazillion (I counted them) little novelty toys that fit inside Easter eggs or into Easter baskets, and you can buy them by the dozen or more. (And their Easter sale is going on now – need 24 Easter finger puppets for $3.99? You’re in luck!) And for the ultimate in time-saving, you can even buy plastic eggs pre-filled with little toys (2 dozen for $7.99). Now THAT’s a helpful Easter Bunny.