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Halloween With a Nut Allergy

Halloween is one of the scariest times for those of us with children who have allergies.  My daughter is allergic to all nuts, with her peanut allergy being the most severe.  There are no words for the fear I have when we are out somewhere new or at friend’s houses with desserts, trying to make sure that the food is safe for her to eat.  Luckily with people of our generation, it is easier because they understand.  I have found that people of older generations, unless they know someone else with a food allergy, don’t seem to understand it as well and sometimes feel as if us “allergy moms” are being overbearing or even crazy.

We recently took our daughter to our local zoo’s Halloween party.  Before we went, we talked to her about the fact that we would likely have to take some of her candy from her.  She is two and a half, so last year, she didn’t really “get” Halloween yet and the only candy she even knew about were suckers.  It was easy to take it and she didn’t balk.  We wanted to prepare her and really take the opportunity to explain to her a little more about her allergy.  We taught her to say “No nuts!”  While there, I checked all of the candy because I still don’t know all of the different types of candy and what she can and can’t have.  little kid in lion costumeMost people were very polite if I asked to see the box out of which the candy came (each station at the zoo had a different type of candy).  There was one man though who clearly didn’t understand.  When I first asked, his response was “They’re all the same!”  I wanted to say “Well, duh!,” but I resisted.  I told him I was checking for allergies, and his next response was “They don’t have nuts in them,” in an even more rude voice.  Luckily, the other woman responded before I could because I’m not sure what would have come out of my mouth.  She explained to him that it could have been made in a factory with nuts.  I was thankful for her response.  Clearly, some people just don’t get it.

I wish that people could realize the importance of watching out for kids with food allergies.  They are no joke.  My daughter’s preschool has made the entire center nut free and they enforce it strictly.  I worry when she goes to kindergarten though because our school district still serves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our cafeteria.  I don’t understand how in this time period where so many kids have such severe allergies, they could be so irresponsible.  My daughter will have to be excluded to a table by herself because if she happened to touch it or something that another child has touched, she could have a reaction.  I dread that day and pray that in the next 3 years our district comes to their senses!

I want to give you a list of some of the candy that you may not think could be dangerous for kids with nut allergies in case you ever come in contact with one.  There are of course the obvious Reese’s, Snickers, Baby Ruth, Reese’s Pieces, Mr. Goodbar, and Almond Joy that clearly have nuts in them, but some are quite surprising.  This is not a comprehensive list by any means.  If you’re giving a child with allergies candy, check the label first, because some may change and you want to be certain.  If you have any to add to my list, please comment!

Candy Made in a Factory With Nuts

Least severe, not likely contaminated and we often let her eat these things: Kit Kat, Milk Duds, and Whoppers.

candy made in a factory with nuts

Made on the Same Equipment With Nuts

We generally do not let her eat these things: Hershey’s Candy Bars (I would avoid the Hershey’s Miniature Bars.  Why?  Because they generally come in a variety pack with the loosely wrapped Mr Goodbar that has peanuts in it.  Any damage to the bag or one of those bars and it’s possible the peanuts can transfer to another bar.  Better safe than sorry).

candy made on the same equipment with nuts

Candy that May Contain Nuts

Due to cross-contamination; we never let her eat these things: Plain M and M’s, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Nestle Crunch, Hershey Krackel, 100 Grand, Brach’s Candy Corn, and Twix.

candy that may contain nuts

Some nut-free candies

Great Halloween candy to pass out!: Almost all fruit candy (Starburst, Skittles, suckers, Pixie Stix, etc.), tootsie rolls, Hershey’s kisses, Andes mints, Rolos, Sixlets, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, and Smarties.

nut free candy

It has been almost a year and a half since our daughter’s day care gave her peanut butter (she never went back there, by the way).  It is still a daily struggle to watch packaging on things I buy at the grocery store and ask questions at restaurants.  We still take her food with us to many places so we don’t have to worry as much.  I hope one day it will be widely understood and supported by everyone.  Spread the word and help those who don’t understand food allergies identify a little better with the families of those with allergies.

7 Responses to “Halloween With a Nut Allergy”

  1. Lisa says:

    Nice post Lauren!

  2. Mary says:

    Thank you for this list! My daughter had a peanut allergy so this is very helpful.

  3. Mary says:

    “Has”, not had. I wish it was past tense.

  4. My sister never could understand that my oldest is allergic to cow milk and she would talk about her being lactose intolerant. No, she is allergic. (Also allergic to most fish and that one scares me.) I sent dum dum pops to her school for her birthday since I know of one child in her class with a peanut allergy. I looked at candy packaging for 30+ minutes making a decision on what to send. That is a great list of the candy – super useful. –Allison, aka Hazel’s mom, aka “an allergy mom” to two allergic children (including Hazel)

  5. Lauren Ross says:

    Thanks for your responses! I am so glad these lists have been helpful to so many people! Please share so others can be informed as well! It is such an important thing that so many don’t yet understand!

  6. Marie says:

    this is a good article. I am both peanut and tree nut allergic and have been for years. I spend most of my life reading labels! I do have a comment about the title and beginning of your article however. Peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes. Many people assume they are nuts, however with labeling of food you have to be very careful and make sure you are looking not just for contains nuts or processed with, but also make sure you are flagging separately for peanuts. Several large restaurant chains have menus available for allergens, and again if you are not specific you could inadvertantly exposure your child to peanuts. In many cases peanut issues won’t be on the nut free menu. The same goes for Disney. If you tell them you are allergic they actually send the chef out to meet you. But their knowledge is not always complete (I found that out as they did not know that balsamic vinegars contain sulfites) so you really need to make sure you are specific that a child/adult has both.

  7. Lauren Ross says:

    Thanks for the comment. Our daughter is actually allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts, but in different degrees. We rarely let her eat out still, but those are good things to know!

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