Thanks to companies like the finalists in the 2012 Food Allergy Reader's Choice Awards, having food allergies doesn't mean having to watch others enjoying a cookie or candy while passing on treats for yourself.
Readers of About Food Allergies nominated and voted for their favorite sweet treats, and the results are in. The winner of the Best Allergy-Friendly Sweets of 2012 is:
7. Mi-Del Caramel Chocolate Cookies
The seventh place finalist, Mi-Del Caramel Chocolate Cookies, is gluten-free as well as free of milk, eggs, and artificial colors and flavors. The cookies are not made in a dedicated facility, but are routinely tested to assure absence of gluten.
Mi-Del was started in the 1940s, by the forward-thinking Samuel Midel who wanted to produce healthier snacks for his children and his food production business. His first product was the still-popular Mi-Del Honey Grahams. Over the years Mi-Del has created many new cookies and crackers, all using natural ingredients. Many of the cookies are dairy-free, and now gluten-free.
6. Dare Whippet Cookies
In sixth place, Dare Whippet Cookies are a peanut-free, nut-free, Canadian favorite. They are manufactured in a dedicated facility and marked with a special peanut-free logo on the packaging. Whippet cookies are much like their American counterpart Mallomars - a wafer cookie topped with marshmallow fluff and coated in chocolate.
Whippet cookies have been a local favorite of Quebec residents for more than 100 years. They do not travel well because they are made with a pure chocolate coating so may not be familiar to many Americans. Whippets come in original and raspberry.
5. Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans
In fifth place is Surf Sweets Spring Mix Organic Jelly Beans. The beans come in six fruity flavors made from real fruit juice: tropical punch, lemonade, mixed berry, pineapple, tangerine and watermelon. Like all Surf Sweets candies, these jelly beans are made with natural colors and flavors and without corn syrup.
Surf Sweets was founded in 2008 by Bert Cohen. The company offers eight varieties of gummy candies and jelly beans, all made in a dedicated facility free of wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts. The candies are allergy-friendly, organic, and vegetarian, and the company supports several food allergy nonprofit organizations.
4. Sweet Alexis Chocolate Chip Cookies
In fourth place, Sweet Alexis makes a variety of baked goods, including their well-loved chocolate chip cookies. Sweet Alexis treats are made in a dedicated facility free of tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, and dairy. Sweet Alexis cookies also come in shortbread, oatmeal, sunflower butter chocolate chip, and frosted sugar cookies. All of the cookies are freshly baked prior to shipping and contain no preservatives.
Sweet Alexis bakery was started in 2008 by Michele Fellows, the mother of Alexis, who has multiple severe food allergies. When Alexis was in preschool, the teachers gave the class candy treats at Easter time and Alexis was given a pencil. Michele was devastated that she was singled out so she decided to turn the situation into a positive by creating Sweet Alexis Bakery, so that her daughter and other children with food allergies could feel included.
3. Sun Cups
In third place, Sun Cups are organic chocolate cups filled with sunflower butter or other sweet fillings. They are made in a dedicated gluten-free, nut-free, and peanut-free facility. Sun Cups are certified kosher and are vegetarian. Sun Cups come in four flavors: milk chocolate and dark chocolate sunflower butter, mint and caramel.
2. Glee Gum
The second place winner, Glee Gum, is free of the big eight food allergens, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. It is manufactured in a facility free of dairy, eggs, peanuts, wheat, and tree nuts. Glee Gum also makes sugar-free gum sweetened with natural xylitol. Glee Gum recently became fair-trade certified, so you can feel good about the source of your candy's ingredients while you are enjoying an allergen-free treat.
Glee Gum comes in 8 great flavors: cinnamon, peppermint, tangerine, bubblegum, spearmint, triple berry, sugar-free lemon-lime and sugar-free refresh-mint. "Wee Glee" is a mini version that comes in a fun, mixed-flavor package of tiny candy coated gum pieces.
1. HomeFree Cookies
And the winner is: HomeFree cookies!
HomeFree was started by Jill Robbins, a clinical psychologist and mom to a child with food allergies. Jill wanted to make it easier for people with special dietary needs to be included in social events that involve food.
HomeFree cookies come in Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, and Vanilla. Each flavor has a gluten free version as well.
HomeFree cookies are made in a dedicated facility free of peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, eggs, and dairy. In addition, some flavors are also free of soy or are gluten free. All HomeFree cookies are also certified kosher pareve, and a certified source of whole grain. Some additionally are low glycemic, vegan, and heart healthy. HomeFree donates a portion of its profits to organizations that provide food allergy research and education.