Halloween is finally here! October always tends to fly by in a bit of a blur, maybe because there’s not a whole lot to take note of. The month, a dreary damp period with little relief, sits on the edge of winter, threatening of what’s to come. But then the 31st arrives, and for a few joyful moments, we get to let our hair down and bask in the silly and sometimes wicked festivities of Halloween
As the day approaches though, I’ve also been thinking about all the macabre and ghoulish things innocently woven into our foods. Dyes from crushed bugs and boiled down animal bones, skin and cartilage are just a few of the choice items that we gleefully offer up to our young as candy. But there are certainly a lot of great alternatives to those gelatin-laded gummies, and many of them are probably already familiar to you.
It’s worth noting that there are already a lot of very thorough lists of vegan-friendly candy out there, but this I’ve decided to put together my own list, to offer my perspective on personal favourites that also includes some healthier alternatives,
Here, in no particular order, are my top ten.
Like most, if not at all, energy, granola and protein bars, Clif brand bars, all flavours and varieties of which are vegan-friendly, are glorified candy. As such, they should definitely be eaten in moderation, but nevertheless, serve as an excellent substitute for the Mars, Snickers and Twixes that dominate the candy piles. If you’re looking to add to your Halloween distribution pile, they can also be bought in bulk reasonably cheaply.
I have fond memories of fishing through my pockets, searching for change, a quarter or two, to pop into the department store candy machines. Skittles were always my default choice. I liked their slogan, ‘taste the rainbow.’ It’s an accurate way to describe the strong sweet and fruity flavour of this classic candy. Skittles are also known for their eccentric, though effective, marketing and branding. Check out their rather unusual website for more Skittles fun. http://skittles.com/
Annie’s Bunny’s Fruit Flavoured Snacks
Annie’s makes a lot of great vegan and vegetarian products. While we in Canada patiently wait for their Vegan Mac & Cheese to make its way north of the border, there is a whole host of delicious treats in their line to snack on. They do release some specifically Halloween themed gummies. I was unable to find them, so they also might not be available in Canada yet. In the meantime, their fruity flavoured organic bunny gummies will certainly suffice, and they come in individually wrapped packs, so they are perfect for a Halloween hand-out to your favourite neighbourhood ghouls and ghosts.
Free2B’s Sun Cups Minis
I don’t usually feel like I’m missing out on anything by being vegan, and cravings for any of the food I once ate are incredibly rare. But I have to admit, once in a while, I do miss Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I only discovered FREE2b’s Sun Cups Minis recently, and I’m glad I did. They are a worthy substitute for that classic sweet and creamy marinade of chocolate and peanut butter, and a great treat if you have concerns about food sensitivities, as they free of the top 12 allergens.
For the health conscious or sugar sensitive trick-or-treater, these next two options are for you. I love Seaweed Snacks. They have that kick of salt that sodium lovers like me crave, but are actually relatively low in salt content. There are a few different flavours with more popping all the time. I just discovered a Korean BBQ flavour, which is quite good, but my favourite is Wasabi!
Three Farmers Roasted Chickpeas
Another great alternative to heavily salted potato chips, Roasted Chickpeas have a great crunchy taste and also have the added benefit of being high in protein and fibre. There are a few different flavour options, including Sea Salt and Lime, and BBQ, but the Balsamic and Cracked Pepper ones are my favourites.
Nibs & Twizzlers
I have a special fondness for Nibs and Twizzlers, as they’re often the only vegan-friendly candy I can get from the snack bar at movie theatres. Most liquorice is vegan, but I’ve never found another that quite compares to the Hershey’s originals.
Sour Patch Kids
Several of the Maynard brand candies are vegan-friendly, including Swedish Barries and Fuzzy Peaches, but Sour Patch Kids are my personal favourites. They have an incomparable, pucker-inducing taste, and will certainly have a nostalgic appeal for many of us who remember sneaking our share of these sugar-coated candies.
When I was a kid, one of my favourite Halloween candies were the soft, chewy molasses based taffies that came in a colourful Halloween themed wrapper. Remarkably they are still around and while Kerr’s, the company that manufactures them, lists them as vegetarian, I suspect that there is some dairy in the ‘artificial flavour’. So where’s a vegan ghoul get its taffy candy fix. Look no further than the good folks at JJ Sweets, makers of Cocomels, an entirely vegan line of coconut milk caramels. They are also organic and NON-GMO, so feel free to indulge with impunity.
Squish candy is a Canadian company that, like all good and delicious things in Canada, originated in Montreal. They specialize in gourmet artisanal gummies and emphasize the quality of ingredients and craftsmanship that goes into their sweet squishy treats. They are a bit pricey ($6 for a small bag), but you can definitely taste the quality difference and your mouth doesn’t get saturated with any chemical aftertaste. They have numerous vegan options, all clearly marked, and all very delicious. They also have some Halloween flavours, like Wicked Witch gummies. See their website for a complete list.