Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day should be happy. It’s a holiday that celebrates love and candy, after all. And nothing about celiac disease or gluten intolerance lessens our love for Valentine’s sweets.
My daughter and I both have celiac disease, and I’m fully convinced that those on a gluten-free diet can fully join in on the happiness of this, and any other, holiday.
Whether you are looking for gluten-free Valentine’s candy to satisfy your own sweet tooth or to make this day special for your little one, you are in the right place.
Happily, many of your favorite Valentine’s treats are gluten-free. I’ll walk you through how to handle candy exchanges, which popular Valentine’s candies are gluten-free, which conversation hearts are gluten-free, and the very best gluten-free chocolate.
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Four Essential Tips for Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Candy Exchanges
Food holidays at school can feel like a minefield for children with a celiac diagnosis. The annual Valentine’s card and candy exchange is no exception.
While it takes a little advance planning, your child absolutely can participate in the fun!
Here are my top four tips for navigating Valentine’s Day candy exchanges:
Start with an up-to-date Gluten-Free Valentine’s Candy List from a reliable source. Ingredient lists and manufacturing processes change, so you want to rely on a list that is current.
My favorite candy lists are from the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF). The CDF maintains lists for major holidays, including Valentine’s Day, and updates each list annually prior to its respective holiday.
Visit the Valentine’s Day candy aisle at your favorite big box store.
Spending five minutes looking at packages of candy in Target will save you time and frustration when you go through your child’s candy Valentines after school.
Many popular brands will say “gluten-free” right on the package, helping you quickly identify safe candy. Equally valuable is a label that states “contains wheat” making it easy to identify obviously unsafe candy.
If your celiac child is old enough to read, I think it’s worth taking them with you to the candy aisle. You’ll be impressed at how well they retain which candies are safe to eat. Not really surprised… but impressed.
Label reading is an important step in self-advocacy!
Go directly to the manufacturer’s website.
Sure, a simple google search, “is _____ gluten-free?” is a quick solution, but the most reliable information will be found on the manufacturer’s website and on the product’s package.
Hershey’s website will absolutely delight you. There were 283 gluten-free products the last time I used Hershey’s “gluten-free” filter.
Involve your child in a plan for the unsafe candy. Talk to your child in advance about the plan. Get their input and buy-in. Here are a few great options:
- Share the love. Have a few Valentine’s cards ready to go. Let your child regift the unsafe candy by attaching it to the cards and then personally delivering the valentines to neighbors.
- Trade with friends or siblings. Often your child can score their favorite gluten-free candies by trading popular varieties they can’t eat.
- Switch out the unsafe candy for something better. This could be a sweet treat your child loves, a new toy, or money. Trust me, money is always popular.
If you are unable to determine if a particular candy is safe, add it to the trade or giveaway pile. It is not worth the risk of an accidental gluten exposure.
For more help with gluten at school, read: 10 Strategies to Keep Your Celiac Child Included and Gluten-Free at School.
Popular Brands of Valentine’s Candy That Are Actually Gluten-Free
For easy-to-find gluten-free Valentine’s candies, the following popular brands are readily available.
They also make frequent appearances in classroom Valentine’s Day exchanges, to the delight of gluten-free students!
- Tootsie Rolls – They will state gluten-free on the package. This includes Tootsie Pops!
- Dum-Dums – They will state gluten-free on the package.
- Some Hershey’s chocolates and Hershey’s Kisses – Many are gluten-free. Read the labels to familiarize yourself with which are safe/unsafe or visit Hershey’s website and filter by “Hershey’s” brand and “gluten-free” diet.
- York Peppermint Patties – They will state gluten-free on the label. Please note, the seasonal varieties/shapes are not gluten-free unless indicated on the package.
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – They are gluten-free (including the ones with pretzels), and will say so on the label. Seasonal varieties/shapes are not gluten-free unless indicated on the package.
- Charms Valentine’s Pops and Charms Blow Pops – These popular bubble-gum-filled lollipops are gluten-free, and will state gluten-free on the package.
These products are gluten-free at the time of writing and have been for many years. However, things can change. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the safest thing to do is to always check the label for the latest and most accurate information.
Now, let’s talk about the most pressing Valentine’s Day candy question…
Are Valentine’s Conversation Hearts Gluten-Free?
According to Spangler Candy, the Sweethearts Conversation Hearts are gluten-free. The website states, “These conversation hearts are gluten-free and are a great choice for your next Valentine’s Day event!”
Brach Conversation Hearts do not contain gluten ingredients, but the company does not make a gluten-free claim.
A fun (and gluten-free) twist on conversation hearts is Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Conversation Kisses.
As always, read the ingredients on the package when you purchase candy hearts or conversation kisses for the most up-to-date information.
The BEST Gluten-Free Valentine’s Chocolate
Looking for “gift-worthy” gluten-free chocolate? See’s Candies is the perfect Valentine’s Day present for the chocolate lover.
Choose from heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, cinnamon lollipops, red licorice medallions, individual heart chocolates, and more.
Miss E has already put in a request for the gluten-free red licorice medallions, reminding me that she has “never had licorice”, which traditionally contains wheat.
Note See’s important disclosure regarding gluten: Candies produced in See’s Candies facilities do not contain gluten, and these products are the vast majority of those we sell. We sell a small amount of specialty candies that we purchase from other partner confectioners. Although these don’t contain gluten, they are manufactured in shared facilities or in shared equipment with gluten-containing products. These products are candy canes, peanut butter bites, lemon drops, apple pie bites, Hanukkah hard candy, hot cocoa, chocolate-covered coffee beans sold in our retail shops and online at Sees.com.
Now, you are ready to have a very HAPPY Valentine’s Day!
Discover More Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Inspiration:
- Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Guide: Ideas, Recipes & Crafts
- The Best Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Gifts
- Easy Valentine’s Day Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Gluten-Free)
- 10 Strategies to Keep Your Celiac Child Included and Gluten-Free at School
- 15 Gluten-Free Party Food Ideas for Kids
- Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Dessert Charcuterie