Thursday, January 29, 2009

Allergy-Free Conversation Hearts for Valentine's Day

When we first found out about my daughter's nut allergy, it was really hard to find "safe" candies for each holiday, especially the really iconic ones like candy corn for Halloween (still trying to find that one!) and of course, conversation hearts for Valentine's Day. It seemed like every candy heart package had a nut allergy warning on it, so she couldn't eat them at class parties or at home. Bummer.

Luckily, Sweet Tarts Hearts are the allergy-free answer to our "conversation heart conundrum." The candies are the Willy Wonka brand, made by Nestle, so I did a little digging to ensure these candies are safe for most food allergies.

The Wonka web site states that "all the Wonka brand sugar candies are peanut/tree nut free." Just to be sure, I called Nestle and asked about the Sweet Tarts Hearts. They assured me that if there were any cross-contact risk for the "Top 8" allergens, this info would be reflected on the label with warnings such as "Processed on equipment that also processed nuts (or the other top 8) or "Made in a facility that also processes peanuts (or egg, etc.) The Nestle rep also said that these candies did not have this risk. The packaging for these candies doesn't list any allergy warnings for any foods--so according to what I was told, these candies can be safely eaten by most.

Of course, if you ever are unsure about a candy, just call the company as I did. The side benefit of calling is that they usually send you free stuff or coupons.

I'm sending these to my daughter's class party--they also sell small boxes of these perfect for taking to school.

Personally, I like the taste of Sweet Tarts better than the "traditional" candy hearts. I bought these at Super Target, but I've seen them for sale everywhere. Enjoy!

16 comments:

Lynae said...

Thanks so much for doing the research and posting this. I'm going to get some for my son's class too. They are doing that hundreth day of school celebration where they make a mix of 10 different snack items. Drives me crazy because I have to check 10 different items to see if he can eat any. Of course two of them are candy corn and candy hearts. I've never been able to find candy corn made in a nut-free facility either. I know it will get easier as he gets older, but it isn't much fun telling a 5 year old that he can't have the candy.

Kelsey said...

We also love the Sweet Tart hearts for Valentine's Day - this year I have seen some of the Brach's hearts that don't have peanut warnings on them, which are tempting, because they normally do label for cross-contamination.

I believe you can get candy corn through either peanut free planet, or Vermont nut free. I have also heard people say there is a nut free type of candy corn sold at Walmart - maybe you'll be able to have some next year!

Jenny said...

Lyane, you gave me an idea for a post with that 100th day thing. Apparently this is a common practice and coming up with a "treats mix" is very taxing on food-allergic families! It certainly was for us, when my allergic child was in Kindergarten. There's gotta be a better way.

Thanks to Kelsey for the nut-free candy tips. I can always use those!

Kelsey said...

I just double-checked and Peanut Free Planet does indeed have peanut free/tree nut free candy corn!

Lynae said...

Kelsey, thanks so much for the recommendation to Peanut Free Planet. I just ordered the candy corn - hopefully it will get here in time. Thanks again!

Jenny said...

Thanks, Kelsey. I had read about Blueberry Hill and candy corn on Food Allergy Buzz foodallergybuzz.com and here is a link that describes Blueberry Hill's cross-contact protocol and facility info.

I've included the link here.

http://www.peanutallergy.com/boards/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showthreaded&Number=258938

Jennifer of Food Allergy Buzz did a great job following up with this. Everybody has to decide what facility they're comfortable with, so use the info in the link as you see fit. It seems that Blueberry Hill is taking pretty strict precautions.

Still, I'm hoping Vermont Nut-Free brings their candy corn back! Let's all write to them. :)

Thanks to everybody for their help as we seek out nut-free candy!

Vivian said...

I'll have to check on these. I know at one time they made some type of sweet tart that had egg in it, so I haven't gotten them in awhile.

Thanks for doing all the work!

Anonymous said...

What other candy would be safe for valentine's day?

Karen the Californian said...

Unfortunately I just saw the Wonka website and it no longer says what you found just last year. It says to call their customer service number for allergen information or to check the product packaging. And of course when I called, nobody answered. I'm so disappointed.

Yet another reason to always check products every time you buy something. Just because it was safe once doesn't mean it's safe next time, unfortunately. :-(

Jenny said...

Hi Karen from California,

Thanks for the update. I went to my package of Sweetarts Candy hearts and it said "Processed in a facility that also processes eggs and wheat."

I'm not sure what allergies you're dealing with, but it looks like these are still safe for nut allergies.


Make sure you call the customer service number during the office hours--some of them are short.

Also, as I said in my original post (and you stated) you have to check every label every time. However, for nut allergies, these still look OK.

Mira said...

I just researched the Necco brand Sweethearts candies yesterday. I received an email from their consumer research area. The small individual boxes and large, loose bags of Sweethearts candies are made in a dedicated area within their facilities. However, the small, individual cellophane wrapped packages are not subject to the same dedicated process so there could have been exposure to nuts. Hope this is helpful. Also, all Tootsie Roll products (i.e., Dots, Charms lollipops, Charleston Chews, etc) are made in nut-free facilities. Also, dum-dum lollipops are nut-free. Hope this is helpful.

susan said...

I am a classroom teacher (2nd and 3rd grade) and i really appreciate all the research families do about what their kids with allergies can have or not have. I currently have two students with nut allergies in my grade level one more serious (deadly). If I am made aware of the problems I will monitor what comes into my classroom (bithday snacks!). Parents who are informed and sit down with me to discuss their child's dieatary issues are greatly appreciated. I have also had parent meetings or e-mail letters sent home to notify the other parents about the need for vigilance. I consider this an essential part of building a community for my classes. I can't speak for all educators but that candy mix for 100th day sounds like it needs to be reevaluated. It is an educators first and most important responsibility to make sure our students are safe. Good luck all of you. I found your blog researching candy hearts for my valentines. I think I'll skip it and give them strawberries (no fruit allergies ) instead. Thanks

Jennifer Perkins - Naughty Secretary Club said...

Don't forget about Jelly Belly brand goodies. They make candy corn!

Jenny said...

Thanks...checked out Jelly Belly and they have tree nut allergy warnings.

Traci said...

Kroger brand candy corn does not have any allergen warnings.

Jenny said...

Hi Traci, Thanks. I'm not sure where that candy corn is made so I would check with Kroger to be sure. It might be OK but you never know.