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Valentine Candy Showdown – What to buy and NOT to buy

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing all the hearts everywhere and it brings back fond memories that I cherished as a child… making cute little valentines for all my friends, and of course, all that candy!

One thing I’m not looking forward to though is when my daughter starts going to school and gets offered candy like this to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I wish I could wipe all the candy like this from the earth…

To clarify – I’m not saying I wish to get rid of ALL candy…

But you don’t need to use risky and potentially toxic ingredients to make delicious candy. Of course, candy isn’t supposed to be healthy, but you don’t need to poison yourself (and your kids) just to have fun celebrating a holiday.

When shopping for treats, read the ingredient list and watch out for the worst of the worst additives commonly found in Valentine’s Day candy… 

ARTIFICIAL COLORS (like Red 40 and Blue 1): Derived from petroleum and linked to several health issues, including allergies and hyperactivity in children, which requires a warning label in Europe. May also be contaminated with carcinogens such as benzidine. (1)

ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS: Artificial flavors are complex chemical mixtures made in a lab using various substances like crude oil or coal tar, and can contain upwards of 100 ingredients (including some recently banned). Food companies don’t need to tell you anything about the ingredients actually in their artificial flavors – they just slap “artificial flavors” on the ingredient label – and we are left in the dark about what we are really eating. (1

BHT: Risky preservative linked to cancer. Unnecessary and much more heavily regulated in Europe or Australia. (1

Fruit snacks are not healthier than candy. They can be just as bad, if not WORSE.

Instead of candy, many parents are buying fruit snacks for their children to exchange at school. Unfortunately, the popular brands are not any better than traditional candy…

The key thing to remember about “fruit snacks” is that they are CANDY.

Even organic fruit snacks usually contain added sugar and I consider them candy. Organic fruit snacks are a slightly better candy option because they don’t contain artificial colors and a slew of unnecessary gums and emulsifiers. A much better option to candy would always be organic dried fruit. 

Quaker Chewy Valentine Minis are not a healthier option either.

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars may look like a healthier option to candy with “17 Grams of Whole Grains” and “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” called out on the front of the packaging. But don’t be fooled. They’re still PACKED with refined sugar and corn syrup along with sorbitol, artificial colors (Red 40, Yellow 6), refined soybean oil, and artificial flavors. 

Thankfully, there are better choices in Valentine’s Day treats.

Luckily for us, not all candy is made with controversial ingredients. There are many choices available that are delicious (and some are actually even nutritious). I plan to indulge in some decadent chocolates on Valentine’s Day – I love it, but I don’t buy the toxic stuff.

The first rule is choose organic whenever possible.

As a general rule, I like to choose organic food whenever possible, to lessen my exposure to pesticides and artificial additives (2). When it comes to chocolate, the cocoa bean is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, so it’s very important to choose organic chocolate. Organic chocolate is made with organic dairy, which comes from cows raised without hormones, antibiotics, and GMO feed (3). Organic candy also doesn’t contain artificial colors, which are one of the worst additives found in children’s candy (4). 

And remember to ALWAYS read the ingredient list to see what is in the candy you buy.

I have a big list of Valentine’s candy swaps for you below. If you have little ones in school, many of them come in mini-packs which are great for valentine exchange parties. While these aren’t all perfect in terms of ingredients and not something I recommend eating on a regular basis (it’s candy!)… these options are way, way better than conventional Valentine’s treats, and you can find them at natural foods grocery stores or online (links provided below). 

Find these options online here:

If you’re wondering what kind of chocolate I personally like to eat, my favorite organic chocolate brands include:

Please spread the word and ask your friends and loved ones to start seeking out safer candy!

If you know anyone who would love these candy swaps, please share this post with them.

This Valentine’s Day, I want you to know how much you mean to me and to all of us here at Food Babe. We truly love you so much for being on our team and helping us change the food system. We’ve got a lot in store for you this year that we know you’re going to love. I can’t wait until you see what’s coming.


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17 responses to “Valentine Candy Showdown – What to buy and NOT to buy

  1. Thank you for the list and I buy the stuff on the good list for my child, but my son’s school has already prohibited candy valentines probably due to nut allergies.

  2. You are doing everything humanly possible to lead people away from the popular poisonous sweets, toward an alternative that they should take the time to study and see why they are so harmful…or alternatively, with everyone so busy, just trust you and take your word and follow your suggestions. There’s nothing wrong with that. You did the heavy lifting so if we trust you (answer is YES) then no work needed. You’ve already done it. This candy thing applies all year long because kids eat way to much ‘garbage’ in the name of candy. It should be labeled with skull and crossbones. Thanks Vani for your constant effort to educate and enlighten.

  3. So… instead u want people to choose overly expensive organic candy. Not everyone can afford overpriced “organic”. I somewhat wonder if you were paid by these companies to bash the popular candy.

    1. Anonymous – Nothing is more important than your health — especially the health of growing children! People have no problem spending money on movie tickets, the latest and greatest cell phones, TVs, and other gadgets, but ask them to spend a few more dollars on organic food and they lose their minds! There are many families on a budget — you can find affordable organic products on sale just like the junk food! It just takes a little more time and effort – but isn’t the health of your family worth it?

    2. Zero. And these options are comparable in price – or you can choose non-food options. Don’t be a hater.

  4. Great list and alot of favorites are their I just bought made good mini for myself and also hu chocolate and later eco

  5. There is nothing wrong with LINDT chocolate or HERSHEYS chocolate! Give your head a shake lady!

  6. I LOVE finding healthier options. One of my favorites is this little chocolate shop in Southern Oregon that makes all natural, raw, vegan, no sugar chocolates, nutritionally dense. The owner Jen has perfected her recipes, they are so smooth and delicious. Since we have moved I have had it shipped for special occasions, like Valentine’s Day, Birthdays and Christmas. SO YUMMY and healthy!

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