My first comment came from Joannad, who mentioned that she didn't know sprinkles had gluten. Neither did I until I thought to check a label in the supermarket. Gluten free sprinkles are available, but I don't see any articles about the subject. So, here goes.
Sprinkles ain't just sugar. They also include corn starch, wheat starch, and various colorings. Thankfully, not all sprinkles are created equal, so here's a run down on the fascinating world of Those Things You Put On Desserts That Your Mother Hates.
So you know, Wikipedia was my initial guide. Open the cut, folks!
According to Wiki, we ignorant consumers commonly say sprinkles (or jimmies, hundreds & thousands, quins, mice…), but manufacturers have standard names for all the different kinds. Follow the sugar spill…
|Long Sprinkles aka JimmiesThese are cylindrical and typically come in two varieties: chocolate and rainbow. They almost always have wheat starch. People allergic to corn should also be on the lookout for syrups and starches. They are relatively soft compared to other sprinkles and I find that they stick to the roof of my mouth. …or they did when I could still eat them.
The name 'jimmies' comes from Just Born, the same company that makes Peeps (which are gluten free!). The man running the machine was named Jimmy, hence his particular product came to be called jimmies. Aah, to be forever remembered as a candy… Just Born no longer makes jimmies, but has expanded its line of Peeps so you can get 'em year round.
Beware partially hydrogenated everything.
|NonpareilsThose hard, tiny little balls. These seem to be fine as far as wheat goes. Always check the ingredients; it's likely that they vary by brand.
Not to be confused with the chocolate disks or kisses covered in these sprinkles, which are also known as nonpareils. (Mmmm… some of my faves.)
Also called sanding sugar and crystal sugar, depending on how course or fine. Once upon a time they probably were just colored sugar (Hey, make your own!), but now they're full of crap just like everything else.
However, at least one brand is listed on AllergyGrocer.com as free of nearly everything: India Tree.
If you want to add color, sugars are the safest place to start.
|DrageesThose little metallic balls that never quite look truly edible… But they are tasty. They're made with almonds! Unfortunately, they're also made with wheat.
They're Italian, and the name also refers to whole nuts coated with pastels, metallics, and now pearly coverings. (Click the smaller image on the left for some examples.) These are popular at easter, but you'll need to check the ingredients.
I have yet o find gluten-free dragees, but if someone does I'd love to hear about it.
|Flat ShapesThese come in just about any size or shape your little heart desires. They're hard and kind of chalky.
I'm having trouble finding ingredients, but at least one brand (they list theirs as "quins" uses rice starch… but also contains soy.)
Brands to watch:
Cake Mate/Betty Crocker — suggests you call them on their 800 line. http://www.signaturebrands.com/faq.asp
India Tree — Known allergen-free
Sprinkles stand explained! If anyone has more information, I'll be more than happy to list it. I'm going to have a look next time I go shopping and will hopefully put in some more brand info. Remember to check the labels!