Falling in love with (slavery-free) chocolate- The Valentine's Day Ethical Treat Guide

In June 2019, the Washington Post published an article entitled, "Cocoa's child laborers" with the headline reading, "Hershey, Nestle, and Mars won't promise their chocolate is free of child labor." If you have not read the article, I would highly encourage you to give it a read. The (heartbreaking) reality that the chocolate industry is riddled with child labor & enslaved labor, and has been for decades, is a shocking revelation to most people with whom I speak. For those of us in the Fair Trade community, this news is no longer surprising, but it never fails to be heart-wrenching. 

It is now January, and we are getting closer to one of the biggest candy seasons of the calendar year- Valentine's Day. And as you walk the seasonal aisle of your local grocery store, you might be wondering- is there ANY ethical Valentine's Day candy for you to buy? 

And the answer is- YES!!! ❤

There are fantastic, DELICIOUS, ethical chocolate, candy, and treat brands out there (I made a sacrifice and taste-tested many of them for you- you're welcome 🥰). And with that, below is my comprehensive guide to purchasing ethical candy for the Valentine's season. This guide is perfect whether you are buying candy for a classroom, work party, giving candy to a loved one or friend, giving candy to teachers, or however else you may gift candy for Valentine's Day (or if you are just feeling hungry seeing all of these treats!). I list the websites below, but if you shop in-store primarily, check and see if your local grocery carries these brands. Kroger stores have a section containing "unique" candy, which includes Fair Trade. Target carries Wholesome brand Valentine's candy, perfect for a classroom setting.


The Ethical Valentine's Day Candy Guide

Below, I have split up my guide into 3 sections- ethical chocolate candy, ethical candy best for food sensitivities, and ethical non-candy food alternatives.


Ethical Chocolate Candy

Below is a list of ethical chocolate candy brands, and their websites.

  • Little Secrets Chocolate- www.sharelittlesecrets.com (YUM!)
  • Theo Chocolate- www.theochocolate.com
  • Unreal Chocolate- www.getunreal.com
  • Zazubean Chocolate- www.zazubean.com
  • Divine Chocolate- www.divinechocolate.com
  • Tony's Chocolonely- www.tonyschocolonely.com
  • Endangered Species Chocolate- www.chocolatebar.com
  • TCHO Chocolate- www.tcho.com
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates- www.lakechamplainchocolates.com
  • Alter Eco Chocolate- www.alterecofoods.com
  • Equal Exchange- www.equalexchange.coop
  • Trader Joe's Chocolate- www.traderjoes.com
  • Lily's Chocolate- www.lilys.com
  • Chuao Chocolatier- www.chuaochocolatier.com
  • Simple Truth Organic Chocolate- www.kroger.com (this is Kroger's private label chocolate)
  • Wild Ophelia Chocolate- www.wildophelia.com (the Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Cups are my FAVES)


Ethical Candy good for Food Sensitivities*

*All allergen information listed below is taken directly from the brand's website. 

Below is a list of ethical candy brands that are good for different food sensitivities, and their websites. These brands are generally good for these allergies and sensitivities, but please check the packaging on each individual package for allergen info specific to that item.

  • Vegan
    • Unreal Chocolate- www.getunreal.com
    • Zazubean Chocolate- www.zazubean.com
    • Lake Champlain Chocolates- www.lakechamplainchocolates.com
  • Gluten Free
    • Unreal Chocolate- www.getunreal.com
  • Peanut and Tree Nut Free
    • Wholesome Sweet- www.wholesomesweet.com (does not apply to all items on their site) *** I buy the organic heart-shaped lollipops from Wholesome Sweet for my son's class each Valentine's, and they are a big hit! The lollipops are peanut & tree nut free ***
  • No Sugar Added
    • Lily's Chocolate- www.lilys.com
  • No Artificial Ingredients or Flavors
    • Little Secrets- www.sharelittlesecrets.com
    • Wholesome Sweet- www.wholesomesweet.com
    • Divine Chocolate- www.divinechocolate.com
  • No Corn Syrup
    • Little Secrets- www.sharelittlesecrets.com


Ethical Non-Candy Food

Below is a list of ethical food brands that are not candy, and their websites. This option is a good one for people who want to provide a healthier/different option for their children in lieu of candy.

  • BarkTHINS- www.barkthins.com (the dark chocolate + mint are delicious!)
  • Brite Snack- www.britesnack.com (the Kai Trail Mix contains Fair Trade Chocolate)
  • Quinn Snacks- www.quinnsnacks.com
  • This Bar Saves Lives- www.thissaveslives.com
  • Living Raw Treats- www.livingrawtreats.com
  • Equal Exchange- www.equalexchange.coop
  • Bear Naked- www.bearnaked.com

I hope this guide makes your Valentine's Day treat shopping a little easier! What is your favorite ethical candy/treat?

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