Gluten-Free Valentine's Candy (Updated for 2018)

From conversation hearts to Hershey's Kisses, here's what's safe

valentine's candy hearts
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Wondering which candy among all those red and pink wrappers is gluten-free? Here's the list of gluten-free Valentine's candy, as of February 2018.

Unless I've noted otherwise, this list applies to the United States only—manufacturing (and consequently, gluten-free lists) differ from country to country. In addition (again, unless I've noted otherwise), all of these candies are gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million, the current accepted standard in the U.S.

If you're looking for a type of candy that's not on this list, check out my comprehensive main gluten-free candy list, which includes most widely-available candies. Otherwise, enjoy, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Gluten-Free Valentine's Candy (Plus Some Candy That's Not Safe!)

  • Brach's Conversation Hearts. In prior years, these weren't considered gluten-free, but they now appear on manufacturer Ferrara Candy Company's list of candy that doesn't contain wheat, barley or rye. So you might want to consider these if you're looking for conversation hearts.
  • Dove chocolate. Dove chocolate, manufactured by Mars Chocolate (which also makes M&Ms), is usually gluten-free—the obvious exceptions include milk chocolate cinnamon graham and cookies 'n cream flavor, while the not-so-obvious exceptions include milk chocolate strawberry shortcake crisp (while the crisp itself is made from tapioca and rice, these have a "may contain wheat" warning on them). You can feel reasonably confident buying Dove chocolate products for Valentine's Day, provided you always check the label. Mars will call out any wheat, barley, or rye sources on the label. Safe-looking Valentine's items include Dove milk chocolate candy hearts, Dove milk chocolate and red velvet swirl, dark and milk chocolate hearts, and caramel and milk chocolate. However, some Mars' seasonal packaged items may be problematic—Dove Milk Chocolate Truffles in a heart-shaped gift box include a "May contain wheat" warning, indicating the company used a shared facility or shared equipment to produce those Valentine-specific candies. The bottom line: Always Check The Label.
  • Gimbal's Fine Candies. These aren't found as commonly in stores, but they're worth mentioning because they're free of many common allergens (including gluten). Gimbal's makes jelly beans, sour jelly beans, sour heart-shaped gum drop-style candies, heart-shaped cherry candies, heart-shaped and round cinnamon-flavored candies, and gluten-free licorice shaped like a Scottie dog. All are peanut-free, tree nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and egg-free, and are made in a gluten-free facility.
  • Hershey's Kisses. Hershey's reports that plain milk chocolate Kisses are safe on the gluten-free diet, as are four out of five filled Kisses (as of January 2018, there are five filled varieties: dark chocolate with chocolate truffle, mint truffle, vanilla creme, caramel, and cherry cordial crème, and everything except for the chocolate truffle variety is considered gluten-free). Milk chocolate Kisses are considered gluten-free regardless of what color foil is used to wrap them, so those pink and red foil Valentine's packages are safe. However, Hershey's Cupcake Kisses marketed for Valentine's Day contain wheat. If you're buying Kisses in a heart-shaped tin, make sure they're all gluten-free varieties (some tins are and some aren't). In addition, avoid the giant (7 oz.) Hershey's Kisses, as they do not appear on the company's gluten-free list. Kisses are very, very confusing, so I include more detail on different types of Kisses here: Are Hershey's Kisses Gluten-Free?
  • Junior Mints (Heart-Shaped). These are produced by Tootsie Roll Industries, which states that all its products are considered gluten-free.
  • Lifesavers Candy 'n Stickers. Lifesavers, made by Wrigley, are considered gluten-free, as are these Valentines candy-and-stickers packets, which are aimed squarely at people who need a box of treats that will cover the entire elementary school class.
  • M&Ms. There are plenty of Valentine M&M products from which to choose, including specially colored pink and red M&Ms and M&M "Sweet Sayings" (kind of like M&M conversation hearts). M&Ms, like Dove Chocolates, are made by Mars Chocolate, which says it will call out any gluten grain ingredients on the label. Obviously, pretzel M&Ms aren't safe, but other types of M&Ms that might tend to sound safe can suffer from the risk of gluten cross-contamination. This will be called out on the label in a "may contain wheat" warning. This year, I've seen M&Ms "Cupid Messages" with that "may contain wheat" warning. Again, the bottom line: always read the ingredients list—Mars will disclose these cross-contamination risks, so you can avoid products that are at risk for gluten cross-contamination.
  • Peeps. It's easy to find Valentine's Day heart-shaped Peeps, and manufacturer Just Born labels packages "gluten-free" (look for the designation in the same area as the nutritional information) if those Peeps have been produced in a way that's safe for us. However, you shouldn't just assume all Peeps are gluten-free; a few are made in facilities with the opportunity for gluten cross-contamination—I've seen Peep pops (Peeps on a stick) and filled Peeps with that warning. Always check the label.
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. These peanut-y treats appear on Hershey's current gluten-free list and come in a variety of Valentine's Day-specific wrappers. However, the heart shaped ones and the minis are NOT considered gluten-free. When purchasing Reese's candy, make sure the peanut butter cups you're buying are manufactured by Hershey's itself; the candy giant licenses the treat to other companies for special holiday versions, and those candies are not considered safe. For example, I examined a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures in a heart-shaped tin that was produced by a different company. The label will state clearly whether the manufacturer is Hershey's or someone else, so just make sure to buy only Hershey's-made regular-shaped Reese's (Hershey's also is marketing a heart-shaped box of regular peanut butter cups this year that the company manufactured itself, and those would be considered safe). Bottom line: Be careful, as it's easy to make a mistake with these. They're very confusing.
  • Starburst Candy 'n Stickers and Jelly Beans. Like the Lifesavers (which come in a nearly identical package), these treats are gluten-free.
  • Sweethearts Conversation Hearts. These tiny confections with the cute sayings on them (like "Be Mine," "New Love" and "Dream") are made by Necco, and the company considers them gluten-free. Note that the large Necco hearts include a "may contain wheat" warning, so they may not be safe.
  • Tootsie Rolls with Conversation Messages. According to the company, all Tootsie Roll products are gluten-free with the exception of Andes cookies, so these Valentine products should be safe.
  • York Peppermint Patties. An alert reader reported seeing these with "gluten-free" on the package. If you find Peppermint Patties labeled this way, then they're safe for us (don't buy any heart-shaped Peppermint Patties that don't carry a gluten-free label!).

A Word from Verywell

Valentine's Day features lots and lots of specialty candy, and unfortunately, a good deal of it isn't safe for people who need to follow the gluten-free diet. The following candies marketed specifically for Valentine's Day are not gluten-free, and people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid them:

  • Balmer Cuddly Cuties chocolate teddy bears and dogs (made on shared equipment)
  • Butterfinger heart-shaped candies (note that the regular Butterfingers are safe)
  • Elmer Chocolate boxed Valentine's candy (made on shared equipment)
  • Ghirardelli boxed chocolates (most of these actually are safe, but some do contain wheat and barley ingredients, so double-check the label to be sure)
  • Lindt Lindor truffles (they contain barley)
  • Lindt chocolate mints (they contain wheat flour)
  • Mrs. Field's assorted chocolates in a heart-shaped tin (contains wheat flour)
  • Russell Stover boxed candy (for the limited list of gift-boxed candy that is safe, see my article Gluten-Free Candy Boxes)

Remember, you can refer to my overall Gluten-Free Candy article (the link is above) if you find a Valentine's Day candy that's not on this list.

Source:

Celiac Disease Foundation. What Should I Eat? Fact Sheet.