Are Tootsie Pops safe for celiacs?

Tootsie Pops are a popular lollipop candy with a chewy chocolate center. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, enjoying sweets like Tootsie Pops requires some extra care when checking labels for gluten-containing ingredients. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the gluten status of Tootsie Pops, look at ingredients and manufacturing processes, and provide tips for safely enjoying Tootsie Pops and other candies if you follow a gluten-free diet.

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, Tootsie Pops are considered gluten-free to less than 20ppm, making them safe for most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Tootsie Pops are made by Tootsie Roll Industries, who use procedures to avoid cross-contamination with gluten and have labeled the pops as gluten-free.

Ingredients in Tootsie Pops

According to Tootsie Roll Industries, the ingredients in Tootsie Pops are:

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Palm oil
  • Condensed skim milk
  • Cocoa
  • Whey
  • Soy lecithin (an emulsifier)
  • Natural and artificial flavors

These ingredients have been verified as gluten-free. Tootsie Pops do not contain any wheat, barley, rye or oats, or any ingredients derived from these gluten-containing grains. The whey protein concentrate used is dairy-based, not derived from gluten-containing grains.

How Tootsie Pops Are Manufactured

In addition to checking the ingredients list, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to consider how Tootsie Pops are manufactured. Gluten cross-contamination can occur during manufacturing if equipment is shared with gluten-containing products.

Tootsie Roll Industries details their procedures for avoiding cross-contamination on their FAQ page. Here are some of the key steps they take:

  • Gluten-free products like Tootsie Pops are produced first thing in the morning before any products with gluten are run on shared equipment.
  • All equipment is thoroughly cleaned between production runs to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Gluten-free products are segregated from gluten-containing products.
  • Extensive product testing is conducted regularly, including testing for gluten.

Based on their manufacturing processes and testing, Tootsie Roll states that Tootsie Pops contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This level is considered gluten-free and safe for most people with celiac disease.

Are Tootsie Pops Labeled as Gluten-Free?

In addition to manufacturing procedures, Tootsie Pops packaging is clearly labeled gluten-free. Both individual Tootsie Pops and bags of Tootsie Pops state “gluten-free” on the package.

This clear “gluten-free” labeling, along with the brand’s transparency about manufacturing processes, gives extra assurance that Tootsie Pops are a celiac-safe candy option.

Other Tootsie Roll Brand Gluten-Free Candies

In addition to Tootsie Pops, other gluten-free friendly candies from Tootsie Roll Industries include:

  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Fruit Rolls
  • Charms Blow Pops
  • Charms lollipops
  • Child’s Play lollipops
  • Junior Mints
  • Sugar Babies
  • Sugar Daddy
  • Charleston Chews
  • Cella’s chocolate covered cherries
  • Andes mints

As with Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Roll Industries follows strict procedures and labeling to ensure these candies are gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Always check packaging for the gluten-free label.

Are There Any Risks of Cross-Contamination from Manufacturing?

While Tootsie Roll Industries follows very stringent protocols to avoid cross-contamination in their facilities, there is always a slight possibility of trace amounts of gluten exposure from shared equipment. The facilities do produce some gluten-containing products.

For most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the miniscule levels of potential cross-contamination are safe per the 20ppm standard. However, for those with extreme gluten sensitivities, even tiny amounts may cause issues.

Individuals have to weigh their own level of risk tolerance. Many opt to trust the procedures and gluten-free labeling Tootsie Roll provides. Others may choose to avoid Tootsie products if they are highly sensitive. Checking with your own healthcare provider can help determine your appropriate level of caution.

Tips for Safely Enjoying Tootsie Pops

Here are some tips for safely enjoying Tootsie Pops if you follow a gluten-free diet:

  • Check the gluten-free labeling on each package of Tootsie Pops you purchase. While formulas stay consistent, packaging can change over time.
  • Enjoy Tootsie Pops as a “treat” food occasionally, not as a daily habit or replacement for more nutritious foods.
  • Watch out for gluten contamination when buying Tootsie Pops in bulk bins, which have a higher risk of cross-contact from scoops.
  • If you have children, monitor their consumption to prevent tummy issues from overindulging in sweets.
  • When in doubt, reach out to Tootsie Roll customer service with any questions or concerns about their procedures.

What About Other Pops and Lollipops?

When looking at other brands of lollipops and pops, the gluten-free status may not be as straightforward. Key things to look out for include:

  • Maltodextrin: This common ingredient may be derived from wheat and is not always gluten-free.
  • Barley malt: Malted barley is used in some lollipops for flavor. This ingredient contains gluten.
  • Oats: Some old-fashioned style lollipops use oat flour, which contains gluten.
  • Unknown sources: Generic lollipops, some store brands, and novelty lollipops may not disclose ingredients or manufacturing details.

Your safest bet is to stick with large mainstream candy brands that identify gluten-free status clearly on packaging. When in doubt, avoid it or contact the manufacturer for more details.

Can Celiacs Enjoy Lollipops and Sweets?

The good news is that having celiac disease or gluten sensitivity does not mean completely avoiding sweets and treats. With some label reading and ingredient checking, pops like Tootsie Pops can be enjoyed in moderation.

Other gluten-free friendly sweets and candy options include:

  • Smarties
  • Skittles
  • Starburst
  • Jelly beans
  • Swedish Fish
  • Lindt chocolate bars
  • Enjoy Life cookies
  • Annie’s Homegrown bunny cookies
  • Betty Crocker gluten-free brownie mix
  • Dum Dums pops

Check labels and reach out to manufacturers with any questions. Having an occasional treat can help anyone following a gluten-free diet feel included, especially around events like Halloween and holidays.

The Takeaway on Tootsie Pops

When that craving hits for a nostalgic taste of childhood, Tootsie Pops can be a gluten-free friendly choice. Tootsie Roll Industries follows careful manufacturing procedures and labels their pops gluten-free. Most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can feel confident unwrapping and enjoying a Tootsie Pop as an occasional gluten-free treat.


With proper labels and transparent manufacturing processes, Tootsie Roll has made its famous Tootsie Pop lollipops safe for most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. While there is always a slight possibility of trace gluten exposure from shared equipment, the company utilizes high standards to avoid cross-contamination. For the majority of gluten-free consumers, Tootsie Pops present a tasty, celiac-friendly way to enjoy an iconic candy treat. As with any specialty diet, individuals must weigh their personal level of risk. But overall, Tootsie Pops are considered a gluten-free food that can be enjoyed in moderation by most people following a gluten-free lifestyle.

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