Halloween can be fun a time for both children and adults and with a rare Harvest Moon that kicked off the spooky season on Oct. 1, not even coronavirus can keep people from celebrating the creepiest time of year. (Although, COVID-19 standard practices such as wearing face masks and social distancing definitely affect how we celebrate it.) That being said, if you choose to celebrate Halloween this year — either by passing out candy to trick-or-treaters or by going trick-or-treating with your family — keep in mind that for some, Halloween can be a source of major anxiety. Particularly for children with allergies.
Maybe you’ve heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project. It’s a kind of campaign to raise awareness of food allergies or intolerances during the Halloween season. If a home displays a teal or turquoise pumpkin on its doorstep, it denotes that house as having allergy-friendly treats for various trick-or-treaters.
If you’re all for the inclusivity of the Teal Pumpkin Project, you’ll want to make sure that even if you buy traditional Halloween candy to pass out to trick-or-treaters, you also buy allergen-free treats as well. No child’s Halloween should have a black cloud over it because they can’t be included in the fun of trick-or-treating. In case you’re not sure what allergy-friendly Halloween candies or treats to buy, we put together a master list of the safe (and still yummy) stuff, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about allergies and allergy-free treats. That way, you can include everyone who chooses to trick-or-treat Oct. 31.
What is allergy-free candy?
Allergy-free candy refers to candy that is manufactured without any allergens — substances that can cause an allergic reaction. People that need to eat allergy-free or allergy-friendly candy might have a gluten or dairy intolerance, be allergic to milk, eggs, soy, nuts, or other more common allergens. Ultimately, allergy-free candy is safe for all to eat, whether you have an allergy or intolerance or not.
What are the top eight allergens?
The top eight allergens refers to the major allergens that most commonly affect people. According to the Food and Drug Administration, these top allergens include milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts (including almonds, walnuts, and pecans), peanuts, wheat (gluten), and soybeans.
The FDA adds, “While more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies, the law identifies the eight most common allergenic foods. These foods account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions and are the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived.”
Food products free of the top eight allergens are therefore considered to be nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and fish-and-shellfish-free.
Sour Apple, cherry, and grape flavors of Blow Pops are free from the top eight allergens that affect children. While the label does say “milk and soy may be present,” Blow Pops are made in a facility that claims to be free of peanut, tree nut, wheat, and gluten. For children with allergies, lollipops are often the best way to go!
Dots are also free of the top eight allergens and made in a facility free of peanut and tree nut products as well as wheat and gluten. Be on the lookout for original and tropical sour flavors.
In everybody’s favorite dentist office lollipop brand, you’ll find none of the top eight allergens or sesame either. However, Dum Dums do have a precautionary label that states their products could contain trace amounts of soy oil. The label goes on to say that if present, that oil has been processed to remove the protein that causes allergic reaction to soy. Dum Dums are also made in a facility totally free of peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, wheat and gluten, and sesame.
Enjoy Life makes various chocolate and “dairy” products but with vegan and gluten-free substitutes: Dark Chocolate Minis, Ricemilk Chocolate Minis, Ricemilk Crunch Minis, and more. These are all free of the top eight allergens as well as sesame, mustard, and sulfites. Their facility is free of each of these allergens, as well as crustaceans (shellfish).
Made with dark chocolate, rice chocolate, and sunflower butter, the Free2b brand is free of the top eight allergens, corn, sesame, and mustard.
While Junior Mints, a classic candy that’s been around since 1949, are free of wheat and gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs, Junior Mints are not free from soy. Each Junior Mints box also comes with a precautionary warning label that says products may contain milk and egg, though the facility these mints are made in is free of peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and gluten.
While it’s unclear if Skittles are made in a facility where other allergens are located, the rainbow-colored candies themselves are devoid of the top eight allergens, making them gluten-free and also vegan.
Made in a facility free of peanuts (but only if the UPC number starts with “011206”), Smarties include an allergen statement that says all Smarties are free from peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, soybean, and wheat. Smarties are also free of the top eight allergens and sesame as well.
Sour Patch Kids
The label on Sour Patch Kids does not specify if the facility in which their made is an allergen-free zone. However, SPKs themselves are devoid of the top eight allergens, as well as sesame and mustard.
Coming in strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime flavors, Starbursts do not contain any of the top eight allergens and are a product of Mars, the same company where Skittles are made.
Swedish Fish never contain any of the top eight allergens, sesame, or mustard. While Swedish Fish contain no precautionary label and do not state if there facility is free from any allergens, the Mondelez International allergen statement says the company takes allergens very seriously.
All flavors of Ring Pops are free of the top eight allergens and sesame. There’s no precautionary label on a Ring Pop however, and whether the facility in which it is made is allergen-free is currently unknown.
Fresh From the Hearts is an allergy-free cookie company that makes vegan, dairy-, gluten-, soy-, egg-, and cholesterol-free cookies with no added sugar or artificial flavors. It might sound like there’s nothing in the recipe to make it taste good, but their treats — tagged #guiltlesspleasures — feature flavors of almond butter, sprinkles, chocolate chip, fudge, vanilla, almond chip, double chocolate almond, and more.
Quinn Pretzels flavors Classic Sea Salt, Deli Rye, and Touch of Honey are all non-GMO project verified, as well as certified gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. They’re the first pretzels made with whole grain naturally gluten-free sorghum. Quinn Pretzels also makes a grain-free Paleo-Friendly Pretzel Chip, also non-GMO, certified gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan friendly, and dairy-free. Quinn does have other products that contain peanuts though, so consider that before buying. Quinn Pretzels can be found at Whole Foods or Amazon.
Yum Earth’s Halloween Organic Gummy Fruits are free from milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat/gluten according to their website. These organic treats are also made in a facility free from eggs, peanuts, shellfish, and tree nuts. However, these Yum Earth candies are manufactured on shared equipment that also processes foods containing fish and wheat; there are also milk and soy products the facility. Yum Earth’s Halloween Organic Lollipops are free from milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat/gluten. For more allergy information on each individual Yum Earth product, visit their FAQ page.