Trick-or-treating can be very, well, tricky when you have a child with food allergies.
Going door to door asking for candy that your child can't eat is sad and can be dangerous.
Here are some other options if your child has a food allergy:
Family trick-or-treat. Visit relatives who can provide safe treats.
Hand out treats. Put the emphasis on handing out safe candy on trick-or-treat night. You child can wear a costume and answer the door with you.
Neighborly fun. Provide safe candy for your immediate neighbors to hand out, so you know your child is getting something safe.
This Halloween, consider handing out candies that are safe for those with peanut allergies - even if you don't have a child with an allergy. There are many options! (Be sure to always read labels before giving to a child with a food allergy.)
Unfortunately, chocolate can be tough. Kit Kats, many candy bars and M&Ms are off limits for those with peanut allergies. But here is what's safe:
Hershey Kisses (the standard milk chocolate – some of the other kinds are not safe.): This is our go-to chocolate candy. When we get a chocolate craving, we buy a bag of these. Hershey is pretty awesome about allergies in general. Although they produce lots of chocolate with nuts, and several types are cross-contaminated, they are also very allergy-aware, and label their products well.
Rolos: These caramel-filled chocolates are also produced by Hershey and are what we eat when we want something more than just chocolate.
Tootsie Rolls: We love Tootsie Rolls! This is another company that does a great job of labeling. We usually have standard Tootsie Rolls (in all shapes and sizes), the non-chocolate flavored Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops in our pantry.
Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates: When we want something more special, we order from Vermont Nut-Free. We usually can't eat the chocolates at specialty stores like Quality Candy or cute little candy stores where lots of the candy is homemade. Those stores are basically like bakeries in that they make lots of things with nuts and can't guarantee that even their nut-free chocolate is safe. So, when we want some of those cool holiday-themed chocolates (like pumpkin-shaped chocolate suckers for Halloween or Santa-shaped chocolates for Christmas), this is our go-to place. The company was started by the parent of a child with peanut allergies, and everything they produce is completely nut-free, and absolutely delicious. They make their chocolates crunchy with things like pretzels and cereal instead of nuts. They also have one of our favorites, Skippers, which are basically knock-off M&Ms.
Here are some of our go-to options for allergy-friendly sweets.
Skittles and Starburst: In addition to just the standard candy, Starburst is also pretty awesome in that the company provides safe holiday-themed options. Whereas it is very difficult to find non-cross-contaminated candy corn, Starburst has its own version of fruit-flavored candy corn.
Dum Dums: These suckers are well-known at school as the safe candy to hand out to the kids. The company is very allergy-friendly in its labeling; they say on the packaging that Dum Dums do not contain fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, or gluten (There is some soy present.) They are also produced in a dedicated facility. (Always do read the label though, as the company also notes that some Dum Dums are packaged in areas that may not be safe.)
Smarties: Here's another kid-friendly candy that uses its label to advertise that it's free of milk, egg, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy, as well as made in a dedicated facility. The company's allergen statement also says that its products are “safe to eat for kids with peanut allergies.”
Treats also don't have to be edible. Consider bouncy balls, plastic jewelry, Halloween-themed games or toys.
FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) spearheads a campaign for Halloween that encourages giving out non-edible treats for trick or treat. It's called the Teal Pumpkin Project. The idea is to paint a pumpkin teal and place it on your front porch. This pumpkin signals to the neighborhood children that there are safe, non-edible treats available at that house.
With a little planning and thought, trick or treating with a food allergy doesn't have to be a nightmare; it can be a lot of fun!
Amy Schwabe is the editor of Metroparent, and has two children, one of whom has severe food allergies.