Reese’s Pieces are a popular peanut butter candy produced by The Hershey Company. The colorful, candy-coated chocolates are a go-to snack for many people. However, for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, enjoying Reese’s Pieces may not be so straightforward.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Even small amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue in those with celiac disease. For this reason, following a strict gluten-free diet is essential for managing the condition.
So, are Reese’s Pieces celiac safe? Let’s take a closer look.
Are Reese’s Pieces Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately, regular Reese’s Pieces are not considered gluten-free. While the peanut butter filling itself does not contain gluten, the candy coating and shells do contain ingredients derived from wheat and barley.
Specifically, regular Reese’s Pieces contain maltodextrin and dextrose in the candy coating. Maltodextrin is usually made from wheat or corn, and dextrose can be derived from wheat. The peanut butter candy shells also contain wheat flour.
So in their classic form, Reese’s Pieces are not celiac-friendly due to these sources of gluten. Even tiny amounts of gluten from cross-contamination could be problematic for those highly sensitive.
However, The Hershey Company does make a gluten-free version of Reese’s Pieces for consumers with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Let’s take a look at whether these are celiac safe.
Are Gluten-Free Reese’s Pieces Celiac Safe?
In recent years, The Hershey Company reformulated their classic candy to create gluten-free Reese’s Pieces. These gluten-free Reese’s Pieces have the same peanut butter taste but without the problematic sources of gluten.
Instead of maltodextrin and dextrose, the candy coating is made with corn starch. And the peanut butter candy shells are made without wheat flour.
According to Hershey’s, these gluten-free Reese’s Pieces contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This falls well below the FDA’s definition of “gluten-free,” which is anything under 20 ppm.
Therefore, the gluten-free version of Reese’s Pieces is considered celiac safe, as it is highly unlikely to cause a reaction in those with celiac disease.
However, it’s important to note that gluten-free Reese’s Pieces are made on shared equipment that processes other products containing wheat and gluten. So there is a slight chance of cross-contamination.
Those with celiac disease or high gluten sensitivity should take caution and contact the manufacturer if concerned. But for most, the gluten-free Reese’s Pieces would be fine to enjoy in moderation as part of a gluten-free diet.
Identifying Gluten-Free Reese’s Pieces
Because regular Reese’s Pieces contain gluten while the gluten-free version does not, it’s important to read labels carefully and look for specifics.
Here are some tips for spotting packages of gluten-free Reese’s Pieces:
– Look for the words “gluten-free” clearly marked on the front of the package. The packaging will typically have teal or other coloring to help distinguish it.
– Check the allergen information to verify the candy contains no wheat ingredients.
– Read the ingredients list to confirm no sources of gluten like wheat flour or maltodextrin. Corn starch should be used instead.
– Look for certification from groups like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) to ensure proper testing.
– Beware of bulk bins or loose packages, as regular Reese’s Pieces are often stocked this way. Stick to sealed packages only.
– Consult consumer services if ever uncertain about ingredients or manufacturing processes.
Following these simple steps helps ensure you grab the gluten-free version and avoid the regular Reese’s Pieces that contain gluten.
Are Other Hershey Products Celiac Safe?
Beyond Reese’s Pieces, The Hershey Company makes many other popular candies. Which of these are celiac safe choices?
Here is an overview of other Hershey products that are gluten-free or contain gluten:
Hershey Gluten-Free List
- Jolly Ranchers
- York Peppermint Patties
- Milk Duds
- Heath Bars
- PayDay Bars
- Rolo Caramels
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
- Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bars
- Hershey’s Special Dark Bars
- Hershey’s Kisses (plain and flavored)
Not Gluten-Free from Hershey
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Kit Kat Bars
- Mr. Goodbar
- Almond Joy
- 5th Avenue Bars
- Hershey’s Nuggets with almonds
- Reese’s Pieces (regular)
- Reese’s Minis
- Hershey’s Drops
As you can see, many popular Hershey products are gluten-free and celiac safe. However, some contain ingredients sources from wheat, barley or malt. Checking labels and contacting Hershey is advised, as formulations can change.
Are Reese’s Pieces Dairy-Free?
In addition to being gluten-free, many people wonder if Reese’s Pieces are dairy-free. Since the candies contain peanut butter, what about milk allergies?
The classic peanut butter filling in both regular and gluten-free Reese’s Pieces contains milk ingredients. Specifically, the filling has milkfat and lactose among the ingredients.
So no, Reese’s Pieces are not dairy-free. Those with milk allergies or vegans avoiding dairy should not consume Reese’s Pieces due to the milk-derived ingredients.
However, The Hershey Company does make some candy products that are vegan and dairy-free. For example, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, and Seedtastic candy are free of milk-derived ingredients. Always check labels thoroughly.
Best Gluten and Dairy-Free Candy Options
While Reese’s Pieces are not suitable for those avoiding both gluten and dairy, other candy options are. Here are some of the top gluten and dairy-free candies:
SmartSweets makes low-sugar gummy candies that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Flavors include peach rings, sour blast buddies, and tropical twists.
Surf Sweets Organic Gummy Bears
These organic gummy bears are gluten, dairy, soy, and GMO-free. They come in fun flavors like sour worms and sour Berry Bears.
YumEarth Organic Pops
YumEarth makes allergy-friendly lollipops using organic ingredients free of gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts. Flavors include sour beans, wild cherry, and pomegranate.
Tropical Source Vegan Milk Chocolates
For those craving chocolate, Tropical Source crafts smooth dairy-free milk chocolates flavored with fruits like mango, coconut, or banana. All are certified gluten-free.
Vegan Rob’s Puffsnacks
These crunchy puffed snacks from Vegan Rob’s come in unique savory flavors like Pumpkin Spice, Zesty Ranch, and BBQ. They are gluten, grain, dairy, nut, and soy-free.
Cooking Gluten-Free Reese’s Pieces Recipes
In addition to enjoying them straight from the bag, Reese’s Pieces can be incorporated into fun recipes. Here are some recipe ideas using gluten-free Reese’s Pieces:
Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies
Add crunchy texture and peanut butter flavor by mixing gluten-free Reese’s Pieces into classic peanut butter cookie dough. Bake into soft, chewy cookies.
Reese’s Pieces Candy Bark
Melt dairy-free chocolate chips and spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with gluten-free Reese’s Pieces before chilling until set. Break into pieces.
Reese’s Pieces Popcorn Trail Mix
Toss together gluten-free popcorn, roasted peanuts, mini pretzels, and Reese’s Pieces for the perfect sweet and salty snack mix.
Reese’s Pieces Milkshake
Blend dairy-free vanilla ice cream with almond milk and gluten-free Reese’s Pieces for a thick, cold treat. Top with whipped coconut cream and chopped peanuts.
Reese’s Pieces Energy Bites
Mix peanut butter, oats, honey, and gluten-free Reese’s Pieces. Form into balls, chilling before enjoying these no-bake energy bites.
Staying Safe When Avoiding Gluten and Dairy
When avoiding both gluten and dairy, extra care must be taken to prevent cross-contamination. Here are some tips:
– Read all product labels carefully for allergen statements and the ingredients list. Call manufacturers with any questions.
– Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling any food products.
– Use separate plates, utensils, pots/pans, and tools for gluten and dairy-free items. Designate certain areas of the pantry, fridge, and kitchen for these foods.
– Clean cooking and eating surfaces well before and after use to avoid cross-contact.
– When grocery shopping, select items from the dedicated gluten-free section when possible. Also check health food stores which cater to food allergies.
– When dining out, inform staff of any food allergies and request preparation/cooking accommodations. Check that items are made without gluten or dairy.
Being diligent about label reading, kitchen protocols, and communicating with restaurants helps keep those with celiac disease and food allergies safe. While Reese’s Pieces themselves are not suitable, many candies and recipes can be enjoyed.
Reese’s Pieces are a popular candy, but classic Reese’s Pieces contain gluten and are not celiac safe. However, The Hershey Company now makes gluten-free Reese’s Pieces that are safe in moderation for most people with celiac disease. Always check labels for the gluten-free version.
Unfortunately, all Reese’s Pieces contain milk ingredients, so they are unsuitable for those with dairy allergies or vegans. Plenty of other candies and recipes using gluten-free, dairy-free ingredients can be enjoyed instead. But caution must be taken to avoid cross-contamination when avoiding both gluten and dairy.