Peeps, a popular candy year-round, has been filling candy baskets with marshmallow chicks since 1953. But are these flavored marshmallows gluten-free, and how do they stack up with other candies?
The original flavors of peeps are gluten-free, although they are not certified. Similarly, their newer flavors are not confirmed to be gluten-free and should be considered unsafe for people with severe gluten allergies.
As it turns out, the original peeps are safe to enjoy for people with gluten sensitivities, although there are some concerns about the product that should be considered. The rest of this article will discuss peeps and whether they are gluten free.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a general term for proteins derived from wheat or other grain sources. For most people, gluten isn’t a concern, but for those with gluten intolerance or gluten allergies, the body’s reaction to gluten can be severe, even life-threatening.
As such, it’s important to exercise extreme caution when choosing what candy to enjoy. Just because the ingredients don’t have any obvious gluten in them doesn’t mean that the product is entirely gluten-free.
What Are Peeps?
Peeps are a flavored candy conceptualized back in the ‘50s by candy manufacturer Just Born. Soon after the idea was born (pun entirely intended), peeps became one of the most popular marshmallow candies in the world, ranging in colors and flavors over the years.
To date, various other accessories have been produced like nail polish, wrist bands, gloves, earrings, and necklaces to reflect the iconic peep shape.
Are Peeps Gluten-Free?
The original yellow marshmallow flavor of peeps is gluten-free and doesn’t pose a risk for people with mild to moderate gluten sensitivities. This flavor is listed as gluten-free, which means that there is no cross-contamination or use of gluten products anywhere down the line during the production of yellow marshmallow peeps.
People with severe allergic reactions to gluten should be cautious, however. Other flavors of peeps might not be gluten-free and some peeps are not gluten-free certified. This means that, while the ingredients may not show any sign of gluten ingredients, the peeps may be produced in a facility that uses gluten or processed by equipment that handles gluten.
In addition, people with corn gluten sensitivities should avoid this product since it contains corn syrup. In fact, the primary ingredient in peeps is sugar, making it particularly problematic for people with corn gluten sensitivities.
For people with celiac disease or severe gluten allergies, cross-contamination is a serious concern when it comes to peeps. This occurs when gluten-free food comes into contact with gluten, whether it be on a machine that has processed gluten, via improper handling of gluten-free food, or by touching a surface contaminated with gluten.
As slight as they may be, these concerns are significant for people with severe allergies. The only data available regarding gluten in the production process for peeps is regarding the yellow marshmallow flavor, which is labeled as gluten-free. This indicates that the product is made in a facility that doesn’t use gluten, posing little risk of cross-contamination.
Other flavors, on the other hand, don’t make this claim, so if shared production lines are not properly cleaned between uses, contamination can occur, and trace amount of gluten can get into your food.
Check the ingredients label for further clarity. Some labels indicate that the facility shares equipment with wheat products or common allergens like gluten.
How to Avoid Cross Contamination
When it comes to the question of whether peeps are gluten-free, it’s important to do your research and potentially even contact the company. A knowledgeable representative will be able to help you determine whether peeps are safe for you to consume and let you know whether there’s a degree of risk regarding cross-contamination.
Alternatives to Peeps
If you’re after that sweet marshmallow-y taste without the worry about gluten, then there are several other safer options that can deliver you the experience.
- Dandies Vanilla Marshmallows
- Doumak’s Campfire Marshmallows
- Some brands of Marshmallow Fluff
- Trader Joe’s Marshmallows
These brands are all certified gluten-free on the label and don’t pose any concerns for people with gluten sensitivities. As with peeps, you’ll want to check at the bottom of the ingredients label to make sure they’re not processed in facility that also handles other allergens like gluten.
Kraft’s Jet-Puffed Marshmallows are also usually ok, but sometimes, the flavoring in their marshmallows has natural flavorings sourced by suppliers who do use grains with gluten in their production line. As such, these marshmallows are ok for people with mild sensitivities, but not severe ones.
Making Your Own Peeps
One solution to avoiding the risk of accidentally ingesting gluten in your candy choices is to make your own peeps. There are plenty of recipes available for you to make your own version of this popular candy, emulating the flavors available without having to worry about the risk of cross-contamination or hidden gluten in the ingredients lists.
The original flavors of peeps are gluten-free, as indicated by the label, and are safe to consume for most people with gluten allergies or sensitivities.
For those who experience severe reactions to gluten, it might be prudent to check the ingredients list to see if the peeps were produced on equipment shared with gluten-containing products.
Further investigation can be conducted by contacting Just Born and asking them whether a certain flavor is gluten-free or not. They may also be able to tell you how peeps are handled in the facility to discern whether they’re safe for you to consume or not.
Is Peeps Cereal Gluten-Free?
Peeps cereal is absolutely not gluten-free. It has plenty of wheat-based products in it to compliment the peeps marshmallow taste and isn’t suited for anyone with gluten sensitivities.
Are Peeps Vegan?
Peeps are also not a good candy option for vegans since they contain gelatin, a byproduct made from animals. Gelatin is made by boiling the skin, bones, or tendons of an animal, and is therefore unsuited for vegans.