Nothing, absolutely nothing, can save a bad day like chocolate. Want to do a random act of kindness? Give a candy bar to a friend. Trying to get out of a slump? Buy the expensive chocolate at the grocery store. Attempting to eat healthier? Eat fruit... dipped in chocolate. There's usually just one problem with chocolate, though. If you're vegan or avoiding dairy, finding chocolate that fits your dietary needs can be a real struggle. For years and years, you've had to trek to fancy grocery stores to buy your dairy-free chocolate. Finally, though — finally! — vegan candy is becoming more mainstream. Exhibit A: Hershey is rolling out vegan Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a chocolate Hershey's Plant-Based Extra Creamy bar with almonds and sea salt.
Yep, they're debuting versions of two of their most popular treats in a way that caters to the dairy-free and vegan crowds. That's almost as exciting as those Reese's dipped animal crackers, no? The Reese's are available now-ish, but you'll have to wait until April for those Hershey bars. Still, after waiting decades, you can probably handle another month. It'll be worth it.
What makes them different?
Curious how, exactly, they're making your two favorite treats dairy-free? Both Hershey's snacks are made with oat milk instead of dairy. However, they've been designed to still taste like that classic Hershey milk chocolate.
"As the vegan chocolate space gets more crowded, claims beyond plant-based may be necessary," Kelsey Olsen, consumer insights analyst for food & drink at market research firm Mintel, told CNN. "While many plant-based items previously launched have been dark chocolate varieties, brands should explore the areas of plant-based milk chocolate and white chocolate."
She's not wrong. Whenever you hit your local Trader Joe's, you probably notice that nearly all plant-based chocolate is dark chocolate. And while many people love dark chocolate, milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate flavors tend to bring a wave of nostalgia with the flavor. Chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate are delicious, sure. But the ones with milk chocolate chips are the ones that take us back to our childhood.
Whether you're eating dairy-free chocolate for dietary reasons or moral obligations, it's been hard to come by and expensive to purchase in recent years. Now, thanks to Hershey, you can satiate those cravings a little easier. And speaking in a broader sense, this is a nice consolation prize after Chick-fil-A unveiled a cauliflower sandwich that, inexplicably, isn’t vegan or vegetarian.
Where can you score these plant-based sweets?
Hershey hasn’t officially given a price for the new items given retailers are responsible for final prices, but Rite Aid has both the Hershey’s bar and peanut butter cups listed at $2.49. ICYMI, that’s about $1 more per item than the non-plant-based versions.
What other candy companies offer plant-based chocolate options?
Although many people assume Hershey's plant-based news may only appeal to vegans, the reality is many of us have kids who are dairy-sensitive (or intolerant) — and that can make occasions like, oh, you know, Easter a low-key nightmare when all the other kids are chowing down on their dairy-loaded milk chocolate treats.
Fortunately, Hershey isn't alone in whipping up dairy-free and vegan options. Lindt, Ghirardelli, Lily's, Nestle, Cadbury, Trader Joe's, and more offer plant-based versions of some of your favorite candy bars. Sure, some of them are dark chocolate — but c’mon, it’s still delicious, and your kid probably won’t bat an eye when they’re tearing through the treats in their Easter basket.