In general, I’ve always preferred salty snacks over sweet treats, and I don’t often indulge in candy but every October, as Halloween approaches, I feel the inevitable pang for some sugary delicacies. Whether it’s driven by nostalgia or just the seasonal marketing, who knows, but it’s become an annual ritual of mine, as a way of celebrating Halloween, to track down the latest vegan candy creations on the market. While there are many accidentally vegan candies (Nibs, Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, Sour Patch Kids, just to name a few) what’s most exciting for me about this special Halloween feast is trying all the intentionally vegan candy.
Every year there’s more and more vegan options emerging on to the market, and their availability is improving as well, with many mainstream stores now carrying some of the bigger plant-based brands (Sweets from the Earth, Cocomels). Here, without further ado, is my list of favourites for 2021. Happy Halloween!
Dwarf Stars – Dwarf Star is a vegan (also allergy and keto friendly) chocolatier based out of Calgary Alberta. They are known for their chocolate bars, galaxy themed bonbons, and pumpkin seed butter cups. For a special spooky treat, they’ve released a couple Halloween versions of their pumpkin seed butter cups. You can order online – shipping in North America is free if your order is over $69 – but you can also buy some of their products in select specialty stores across Canada. Check their website to find a store near you.
Smart Sweets – I’m completely hooked on Smart Sweets, and judging by how popular the low sugar treats have become lately, I’m not the only one. Smart Sweets claims to have 79-92 percent less sugar than traditional candy, yet there is no compromise in flavour, nor in sweetness, and you won’t get that uncomfortable sugar high after eating a single candy. A few of their products (the gummy worms and bears) are not vegan, but the majority are and in general the company aims to use high quality ingredients with no artificial flavouring or colouring. Available online and in Whole Foods, Loblaws, Costco, Sobeys and more. Check the website for a store near you.
Squish Candies – Squish was, as far as I know, was one of the first, to sell veganized versions of the beloved, but usually gelatin-based gummies and they are still the champions at the candy game. Not all their line is vegan, but the plant-based options, and there are many, are clearly marked. And if you’re looking for a low-sugar alternative, this isn’t it, but they sure are delicious and the flavours really pop. Available online through their website as well as select stores – see website for the nearest retail location.
No Whey Chocolate – No Whey Chocolate is over thirteen years old but they’ve only come on to my radar recently, as more and more of their products have begun making their way north of the border. In addition to being vegan, they are also a certified safe snack, meaning they are milk free, dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free, gluten free, soy free and egg free. Their line is fairly extensive and includes some otherwise impossible to find items, like a vegan M & M alternative called Choco No-Nos. They have seasonal releases as well, including some Halloween themed treats. Available online and at specialty stores.
Better Bears – Who doesn’t love gummy bears? The sweet and fruity treat is a favourite of many, but there are not usually as innocuous as they seem. Like most gummy candies, they are made from gelatin, a common ingredient derived from the collagen in various animal parts. But with Better Bear, you get all the classic flavour and gentle chewiness without the gross animal bits and pieces. They are also naturally flavoured and sweetened and contain only 1 gram of sugar. They aren’t available in a lot of stores yet, but you can expect to see their availability expand soon. Until then, you can also buy them online.
Torie & Howard – Started by Torie Burke and Howard Slatkin, Torie & Howard is a growing confectionary company that sells a line of hard candy and “chewie fruities.” In addition to being vegan, Torie & Howard’s promise is to be as eco-friendly and socially conscious as possible while creating their sweet, delicious products. This includes using organic ingredients and sustainable packaging. They are not available in a lot of stores yet, but you can shop the collection on their website.
Sjaak’s – Like many great and delicious things, Sjaak’s comes from California, but with a lineage that stretches back to Holland, and the chocolate masters of the old world. Founder Jacques Holden has been making and selling chocolate for some time, but in 2004, he and his daughter Jessica, started Sjaak’s, a specifically vegan and organic chocolate company. The company has steadily grown since then and expanded its distribution into some Canadian retailers like Good Rebel and Vegan Supply. Whether you’re treating yourself with a box of truffles or buying some of their trademark “Melk” bars for your trick-or-treaters, you can be assured that you’ll be getting some of the finest quality products out there.
Cocomels – Caramels were my favourite Halloween candy as a kid, but before Cocomels launched, vegan version were surprisingly hard to find. Based on how popular Cocomels have become and quickly the company was able to expand their distribution, I wasn’t the only one desperately craving a plant-based version. And their line has continued to expand with new flavours, and new products. They are widely available (I usually buy them at Whole Foods) but check out their website to find the location nearest to you. They can be purchased through their website as well.
Sweets from the Earth – It’s been a wonderful and delicious experience to watch Sweets from the Earth evolve into a vegan powerhouse. When I first went vegan, there were very few places to find vegan sweets and baked goods, but Sweets from the Earth was there to make the transition to a plant-based lifestyle so much more tolerable. For that reason alone, they will always be a favourite but they’re also indisputable champs when it comes to the quality and flavour of their products. Their individually wrapped cookies, bars, brownies etc. are also ideal for Halloween hand-outs.
YumEarth – YumEarth makes candy that is free of the common food allergens that plague many of us. As a consequence, whether accidentally or by design, most of their products are also vegan. They have bulk bag releases for Halloween, with lots of individually wrapped goodies to give out. Their gummies are the flagship product and the easiest to find but they are expanding their line so keep an eye out for new YumEarth sweets. Available online or at select specialty stores – I get them at Whole Foods.
Free 2b – Free 2b is another company that’s had a mercurial rise. Between the popularity of veganism and the growing hunger for allergy friendly snacks, Free 2b has found itself at the center of a market swell, and unlike many of the previous iterations of allergy-safe, alternative snacks, Free 2b has maintained the same sweet, decadence of traditional candy. The sunflower butter cups are their main product right now, but they seem to be expanded, with the addition of a mint flavoured cup, as well as baking wafers. They have a Halloween pack available through their website with individually wrapped cups, but they are also available at many big retailers like Shopper’s Drug Mart and Loblaws.