Monday, March 14, 2011

Food-Allergy-Safe Easter Candy Round-Up

by Kelley Lindberg

Once again, it’s time for my annual food-allergy-safe Easter Candy Round-Up! Easter is still six weeks away, but don’t wait too long, especially if you have to order online.

Every year I hit a few stores looking for typical Easter candy – specifically jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. What I find varies from year to year. Just because something was allergen-free last year doesn’t mean it will be this year, because manufacturers can change factories and suppliers with alarming frequency. And sometimes different package sizes and packages in different parts of the country will carry different ingredient warnings, too, because they were produced in different factories. So double-check every single ingredients label before you buy anything, even if I’ve included it in my list here.

For nut-free and egg-free chocolate bunnies, your best bet is Hershey’s. I found a 6-inch solid Hershey’s “Magic Bunny” at Walmart, and a package of 6 Hershey’s solid chocolate bunnies at both Wal-Mart and Smith’s (but avoid the package of 6 “cookies and cream” flavored Hershey’s bunnies, because they have a nut warning). Target has several nut-free Hershey’s chocolate bunnies – a Princess Bunny, Speedy Bunny, Snap-Apart Bunny, etc. Some flavors of Hershey’s kisses are also nut-free, as well as Hershey’s mini foil-wrapped chocolate eggs. But double-check labels – many Hershey’s products have nut warnings, so don’t assume they’re safe until you check. And remember, all Hershey’s chocolate includes milk and soy.

To avoid additional allergens like milk and soy, head for the online candy manufacturers. There are several online sources with really yummy allergen-friendly chocolate in lots of fun holiday shapes. (See my list below.)

Looking for jelly beans or mini egg- and bunny-shaped candies? Here are some that are free from the Big Eight. All contain corn, however, and most contain artificial dyes. A few may contain soy lecithin, but I tried to screen for that (but I apologize if I missed one or two). I checked Wal-Mart and Smith’s, but I know most of these are also carried by other grocery stores.
  • Skittles Blenders (Wal-Mart $1/box)
  • Sour Patch Bunnies (Wal-Mart $1/box)
  • Swedish Fish Eggs (Wal-Mart $1/box)
  • Starburst jelly beans (Wal-Mart and Smiths)
  • Jolly Rancher jelly beans (Walmart and Smiths)
  • Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans, smoothie blend, and sours (Wal-Mart $2)
  • LifeSavers jelly beans (Smiths $2.19)
  • LifeSavers Gummies Bunnies & Eggs (Smith’s $2.19)
  • Kroger jelly beans (Smith’s $0.79)
  • Nerds Bumpy Jelly beans (Smith’s $2.19)
  • Wonka Spree jelly beans (Smith’s $2.19)
  • Private Selection Gourmet Jelly Beans, 41 flavors (Smith’s $3)
Walmart also has some cute giant marshmallow lollipops for $1 that were free from the Big 8.

Luckily, several great online manufacturers and grocers offer allergy-friendly chocolates and candies for every holiday and just about every type of allergy. So check out these sites, but be sure to order in plenty of time (Easter is April 24).
  • Allergies and Me:  This is a great find for gluten-free candy and other allergen-free candies.
  • Vermont Nut Free:  Their chocolates are peanut-free and nut-free, but they do have milk and egg warnings on them.
  • Divvies: Nut-free, dairy-free, and egg-free chocolate bunnies, and jelly beans.
  •  This online grocer sells allergy-friendly foods from several vendors, but 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 and Easter. Call before you order to ensure you get what you need, allergen-wise.
  • 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, and from here: Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops. Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Bears.
  • Indie Candy: Check out the gorgeous crystal sugar flower-shaped lollipops on this site (no dyes or common allergens at all!). They have a large selection of confections and let you search by your specific allergy needs.
  • 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 for the ultimate in time-saving, you can even buy plastic eggs pre-filled with little toys. Now THAT’s a helpful Easter Bunny.
Hope this helps. Next week, I’ll offer some ideas for non-food Easter Egg hunts. Hoppy shopping!


foodallergymom said...

Kelley... love this roundup! It sure helps to make Easter planning easier. Thanks for putting this together.

Anonymous said...

Beware of Willy Wonka Nerds Bumpy Jelly Beans. I bought a package that did not have an allergy warning (made in Mexico), but I called Nestle/Wonka and was told it should have had a warning for 'processed in a facility or on a line with peanuts and tree nuts'. My daughter had eaten some and had facial swelling and hives. The company rep that I talked to said they would check into why there was no label, as is company policy.