Dear Brachs Candy: What gives?!?

I’ve been a bit absent from the blog-world as of late (my apologies, I will blog about it soon, I suspect.), but thought I’d finally take the time to write about something that has bothered me for some time……well, actually, it has bothered me for about 1,497 days, give or take a few.

When I am out shopping…whether in grocery stores or even hardware stores (again, I’ll blog about this later), I can’t help but be faced with a barrage of “impulse-buy” items…. and having a sweet-tooth, I devote a few seconds to perusing the selection of sugary treats to see what I might have a hankering for.  Inevitably, it will be something that had slipped off of the radar of my consciousness altogether until my eyes alight upon a bag of, oh…say…orange slices?  or gum drops?  You know…the candy that you never really have at the forefront of your mind, but which is a solid “Oh, yeah!” purchase.

I digress.

So, despite indulging in a little impulse-shopping, I always look at the packaging to see if it is safe to eat.  ALWAYS.  And what do I ALWAYS find?  Well, for starters, Brach’s candy company must have the corner on aisle and end cap real-estate in a certain radius to the check-out lanes I inevitably go to.  Secondly, they ALWAYS have a disclaimer about possibly being processed on equipment that processes wheat, yadda, yadda, yadda.  ALWAYS.

Now, look:  you might think I’m just whining about some gum drops…and to be honest, if this was all it was, I’d accept it as fate’s way of helping me eat a little healthier (maybe drop a few pounds…), but this is about more than check-out aisle treats.  That’s right.  I’m talking about the big-time:  Seasonal Candy.

And what’s my beef with this all?  I am super irked that a HUGE company like Brach’s can’t get their act together and actually test their food.  Their disclaimer seems like a legal catch-all to prevent them from being sued by anybody for anything.  I’d be surprised to find that there isn’t something in their generic paragraph warning about getting papercuts from the plastic packaging.  While this legal catch-all may comfort them, I find it annoying and haughty.  Like gluten-free shoppers aren’t important to their bottom line to bother to see if they are, in fact, barred from eating their products.

And maybe we’re not…but it is a shame nonetheless.  Every stinking year I have to trek out to the stores to hunt down some little hole-in-the-wall company to get stupid candy corn and conversation hearts for the holidays.  Rarely is it ever as good..and most commonly it is at least twice the price.  It is stupid, I know.  After all, it IS JUST candy corn and conversation hearts…but it is bigger than that for me.  It represents a huge company basically telling a portion of the population that we don’t matter.  And that stinks.

I could understand if these foods actually did contain gluten….but I’m 99.99999% sure that they don’t.  And you’re telling me that that equipment is making other candy that has gluten for the few months that you aren’t pumping out tons and tons of tiny sugar-laden hearts and bits of corn?  Give me a break.

So, this blog is an indictment of lazy companies like Brach’s Candy, who could so easily provide some assurance to consumers with celiac disease by actually labeling when it is appropriate and not just as a generic catch-all, but who choose not to for reasons that are entirely incomprehensible to anyone with an ounce of common sense.  Way to go, Brach’s.

Little companies all over the world have been able to have labeling that actually reflects the specific product it contains, and processes and equipment it goes through.  Either you are so out of touch that you don’t see that, or you are so big you have lost touch with your audience.

As a former conversation-heart-aholic, I can say with absolute seriousness that I theorize they personally took a financial hit after I stopped purchasing their products back in 2007.  But it is the ever-present, grating irritation I feel every time I see a bag marked “Brachs” that should be the real kicker to them.  Celiac disease diagnosis is on the rise.  Wake-up and get with the program, Brach’s!  The train is leaving the station, and you’re going to be left in the powdered-sugar dust if you aren’t more on top of things like this!

P.S.  The day you decide that celiacs are worthy of buying your products, please let me know….and please try and schedule it before the 2014 batch of conversation hearts hits the market.


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About AccidentalCeliac

I am an architect living in Minneapolis who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I also am a mother of two children, one of whom has Celiac Disease, as well. This blog is about all things related to navigating the many terrains of gluten-free living. I hope to share tips and experiences, post news and fun ideas, vent a little, and share anything else that has to do with this lifestyle that so many people are now living with.

4 responses to “Dear Brachs Candy: What gives?!?”

  1. Terri says :

    You are so right! I miss the candy corn tremendously!

  2. Teresa Ripley says :

    Absolutely one hundred percent in agreement!! You can only imagine how shopping for a child with egg, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts and seed allergies is compounded…EVERYTHING is processed on equipment that contain these!! I feel for you and your celiac diagnosis! Like celiac disease, food allergies are on the rise…and these companies are missing the boat! When my son was a toddler, Kelloggs came out with a statement saying they were going to make all their poptarts, not just some of them with dairy in them, my son emailed them with his sad concerns, and they responded! They decided to NOT put dairy in the poptarts because of the strong outcrying…yeah! We were so happy and that has made a huge impression on my 15 year old son who still gets to eat poptarts! So let’s keep up with our venting and outcrying for our children’s sake and our own.

  3. odessachen says :

    I’m interested to read your blog because I am also asymptomatic which in theory is nice but in reality makes it extremely hard to know if i am getting contaminated. I am not ever 2 weeks diagnosed and so sad and depressed. I feel diseased. I was wondering how you got diagnosed without symptoms. Mine was complaints about fatigue and depression and at the end i had very minor burning stomach on and off along a normal case of heartburn. Nothing horrible. Now I’m more depressed than before as pizza and pasta and beer were my number 1 favorite foods.

    • AccidentalCeliac says :

      The only reason I was diagnosed was because my daughter was hospitalized…and they found out she had celiac disease (she had stopped eating altogether at 22 months old after 6 months of us trying to figure out what was going on.) The GI told both of us to get tested, and despite the close relationship I had with donuts and croissants, it turns out that I had it. And was on the verge of having lymphoma. (what the nurse told me after my biopsy.) 2 weeks in..that is pretty early in the process, so cut yourself some slack…it is OKAY to be depressed about this. (you are actually going through a grieving process – in all seriousness). You will have better days when you feel completely in control of it…and other days when you just break down and cry. (I literally have started crying in the grocery store…wandering through entire aisles without being able to find a single thing I could eat.) It is horrible. I CAN tell you that it will get better, and it will get easier. You will find a few restaurants that you feel comfortable with (you’ve gone through the drill with them regarding cross contamination and whatnot, so when you go out you don’t have to make as big a fuss about it…although you will STILL have to mention it every time.) You will also figure out what foods you can have and which ones you can’t. (and which companies you boycott because of questionable labeling on some products.) As for pizza, pasta, and beer: I DO have good news for you: there are pretty good GF alternatives for these….especially if you like thin-crust pizza. If you like a thick-crust…well, the closest we have gotten is by making dough in our breadmaker with a Pamela’s mix. For pasta….there are corn and rice pastas that simulate the real deal pretty well as long as you don’t overcook them. Beer….depends on what kinds you liked before. New Planet, New Grist, and Redbridge are all different. Some celiacs go with Omission….although bits of controversy there. If you like ciders, you are set. If you are getting sick of the same old ciders, you could try Fox Barrel Apricot Cider. I find it to be a nice break from the norm.
      It is pretty darn difficult to be celiac when you don’t have symptoms….but stick with it and just do your best. In reality, you are going to get some cross contamination, but hopefully by being diligent, it will be minimal. One thing a GI told me was to give gluten a try ONCE to see if I would have symptoms…oddly enough, some symptomatic celiacs have that reaction get reduced the longer they are GF…others have it get more pronounced. So, for the sake of science, I am waiting until my 5-year anniversary to give myself one day to eat gluten again. (NOT because I am deluded enough to assume I am cured, because we know that isn’t possible, but just to see if I will react so I have a better idea if I got glutened somewhere or if it was just food poisoning or whatever.) Hang in there and feel free to message me if you have any questions or if you just need to kvetch! I have been there…and sometimes you just need to vent. 🙂

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