Gluten Free Trick or Treating

By Rachel Sircy

Just like buffets at restaurants, the holidays can be a bit of a nightmare for celiacs. Picking your way through food from unknown sources can be a bit like taking a stroll through a minefield: guess wrong and you could really be in some pain. So, what do we do about trick or treating with kids who need to be gluten free? Or, if you’re having an office party and candy is present, how do you decide what’s safe to eat and what’s not?

Well, I must confess that I’ve made some real blunders through this minefield myself. The thing is, some candy just seems so innocent. Like the Hershey’s Special Dark Bar. It’s a bit mind boggling that this block of solid chocolate would contain gluten, but it does. It’s not like the Hershey company keeps this a secret, it’s just that I never bothered to look. For a long time, I kept getting sick and I couldn’t figure out why. My advice to anyone who has an issue with gluten, don’t think you can just look at something and take a good guess and be okay. Always do your research. This year, I’m going to point you toward some places that can help you do that.

The Hershey company keeps a fairly comprehensive list of gluten free products in the US at this website:< https://www.thehersheycompany.com/en_us/products/dietary-needs.html>

They update this list regularly, so check it periodically to make sure that they haven’t changed how or where they make certain products. Also, beware that many variations of certain gluten free candies – as in most seasonal specialty candies (i.e., Reese’s Pumpkins) and even the fun-size versions – are NOT gluten free. Hershey’s list of gluten free products will let you know which variation is okay to eat. For example they state that all Almond Joy products are gluten free EXCEPT Almond Joy Pieces candy.

Another very comprehensive list is maintained by the Celiac Foundation and can be found at https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/lifestyle/gluten-free-candy-lists/gluten-free-lifestyle/general-candy-list/   The Celiac Foundation also maintains a yearly Halloween Candy list that is printable…

Again, I would encourage anyone who has a gluten intolerance or allergy to check these lists regularly because companies can change the ingredients in a product and/or where a product is produced at any time.

And, for your convenience, I have copied from the Celiac Foundation list some of what I suspect will be common items in your child’s trick or treat bag which ARE gluten free:

  • Hershey’s Milk Duds
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (all except Unwrapped Minis and Seasonal Shaped Items)
  • Reese’s Pieces (all except Eggs)
  • Sour Patch Kids (includes Sour Patch Xtreme, Sour Patch Xploders, Sour Patch Watermelon and Swedish Fish)
  • Smarties (according to their website almost all Smarties products except Gummies are gluten free and made in a gluten free facility)
  • Mike and Ike, Original Fruits, Mummy and Vampire Mix, Berry Blast, Lemonade Blends, Zours
  • Hot Tamales
  • Peeps Vampires
  • Butterfingers (original flavor ONLY. The seasonal shaped pumpkins and any other variety are NOT gluten free.)
  • Laffy Taffy (including Laffy Taffy Rope and Fruitarts Chews)
  • Pixy Stix
  • SweetTarts

AND, I saw this at the store and it just made my day…

According to Tootsie Roll Industries ALL of their confections are gluten free!

Happy trick or treating!

 

 

 

Buckeye Nuts

By: Rachel Sircy

buckeyes

If you ever want to get a hysterical laugh going in my family, especially around the holidays, just tell someone near to you that there are Buckeyes in the kitchen. This inside joke works best if my mother is just within earshot – my mother will become indignant and everyone else will start laughing.

The story behind this joke is the famous Christmas when our family was inundated with gifts of Buckeye candy from my mother’s friends. For those of you unfamiliar with this treat, Buckeye candy is made to look like the nut of a Buckeye tree. I don’t know how popular they are in South Carolina, but in my home state of Ohio (the Buckeye State) these chocolate peanut butter confections are the staple candy gift at the holidays. For some reason that Christmas my mother’s best friend and her husband decided to make countless dozens of them. When they realized they had more than they could handle, they foisted them off on us. We had candy coming out of our ears. My mother harassed the whole family and all of our guests that year trying to get us to eat the candy just so that she could be rid of it. By the end of the season we were so sick of chocolate we couldn’t stand to hear the word “Buckeye,” and still my mother harped, “Hey guys, if you have a sweet tooth, there are Buckeyes in the kitchen.” Nobody had anything resembling a sweet tooth for months after that Christmas.

Nevertheless, if you are looking for a delicious, easy to make edible gift, Buckeyes are great choice. The best part is that they are gluten free!

Since my family threw out all our recipes for Buckeye candy after the famous Buckeye candy incident of ’03, I am going to share a link to the Allrecipes website. This is a pretty authentic looking recipe and it will make quite a bit of candy.

Let Them Eat Cake. I Mean, Candy.

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Halloween is upon us.  As we all carve our pumpkins, string spider webs on our porches and hang skeletons about the house, the kids are eagerly anticipating one thing. No, it’s not dressing up in their costumes.  It’s not Halloween carnivals, nor the actual event of trick-or-treating.  It’s all about the candy.  Plain and simple.

Now, I’m a mom to a 6 year old. She’s like all kids: energetic, curious, funny, and she loves candy. So, like all good parents, my husband and I try to be conscientious about the frequency and amount of candy (and other sweets) she’s allowed to consume. We want her to continue to eat veggies and refuel her muscles with lots of protein, but sometimes it’s a battle.  We hear things like, “Did I eat enough to have dessert?”  I can’t even tell you how crazy this question makes me. I don’t want her thinking of a meal as a gateway to dessert. But, as often as I get annoyed and agitated about it, I try to talk myself down by reminding myself that she is, in fact, a kid. And to be quite honest, if she didn’t want candy and dessert, I’d probably be just as worried that something is wrong. (”Wait, she’s a kid and she never wants sweets?  What’s wrong?!?”)

So, let’s go back to Halloween. It’s all about the candy.  In recent years, many folks have meant well and handed out bags of microwave popcorn, little bags of “Halloween pretzels”, spooky bubbles, baggies of Halloween erasers and organic gummy stuff. The worst of all is the doling out of toothbrushes. What is this about?  Do we need to review what Halloween is about?  Really, people?  Really?

It’s about the candy- all about the candy.  As a kid, the best part of the whole evening was coming home and dumping it all out on the carpet and spreading it out to see all the goodies that I scored.

I even sorted the candy! Since I wasn’t crazy about Snickers, so those went to my mom.  No kid likes the miniature Hershey’s “special dark” and never has, but you have to hand it to Hershey’s.  They’ve continued making that vile candy bar in hopes that they’d eventually convince everyone else to eat it.  Thanks to that French woman telling us all how she doesn’t get fat, dark chocolate has finally gotten its 15 minutes of fame.  But, back in the 70’s, they just went in the trash.  I was a chocolate girl, so all the hard candy went to my friend Cathleen.  Suckers went into their own pile and were saved.  When all the chocolate was finally gone, the suckers were the last, sweet reminder of the Halloween spoils.  But you know what the best part of it all was?  On Halloween night, my parents NEVER told us “ok, just have 2 pieces and then we’re putting it away.”  They let us eat our candy. With reckless abandon, no limits, and no boundaries.  That is Halloween.

So, this year, my daughter is old enough to really take in all of the parts of Halloween: the lights, the jack-o-lanterns, the scary decorations, comparing costumes with the neighbor kids.  She’ll collect a lot of candy and her mouth may fall open when I let her dump it all out on the floor and take inventory. And, as much as I try to limit sweets every other day of the year, on the night of October 31st, my baby is going to truly experience Halloween. And the candy.  All the glorious candy.