This dark chocolate Jack o’lantern is vegan and only available during Halloween at Dean’s Sweets in Portland. Melissa Mullen Photography

In the midst of this dark, witchy time of year when mass-marketed, artificially dyed sweets and cheap milk chocolates invade trick-or-treat bags and goodie bowls, those with a more refined palate may feel left out. Fortunately, in Maine an upgraded version of traditional Halloween candy is possible. The key is searching out vegan chocolates from the state’s artisan chocolate makers. All the best Maine chocolatiers offer a vegan line.

At this time of year, Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit offers a selection of Halloween-themed molded dark vegan chocolates, including pumpkins, spiderwebs and ghosts. Photo courtesy of Harbor Candy Shop

The longest-running and largest vegan chocolate selection in Maine lurks at the Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit, a local haunt for 67 years. In 1957, the year after its founding, the shop added vegan chocolates though they weren’t labeled as such. (The word “vegan” was only 13 years old in 1957.)

“The shop started with just fudge and muffins,” said Colleen Osselaer, manager of Harbor Candy Shop. “In 1957 the original owner traded his fudge recipe for a caramel recipe and then started adding more chocolates. When it switched to chocolate is when we actually started carrying vegan chocolates.”

That’s because the dark chocolate Harbor Candy uses contains no cow’s milk or other animal ingredients. Osselaer was unsure when the shop began advertising its dark chocolate as vegan; however, a search of the Internet Archive indicates that Harbor Candy’s website began using the vegan label online in 2002.

Customers who shop in the store can choose from a selection of Halloween-themed molded dark chocolates, including pumpkins, spiderwebs and ghosts, in addition to the year-round selection of vegan truffles, peanut butter cups, chocolate-covered dried fruits, nut clusters, nonpareils, crèmes and barks.

The vegan chocolate bars from Bixby Chocolate scare up added sales for those seeking local, dairy-free trick-or-treats. Katie Kelley photo

Since opening in 2011, Bixby Chocolate has attracted Halloween shoppers to its 125-year-old former ice factory on the working waterfront in Rockland, where it maintains a shop. It also scares up a brisk trade on its website and in its new cafe in Waterville, where orders for hot vegan drinking chocolate increase as the darkness descends.


“Our vegan Bixby bars and vegan Needhams are really popular at this time of year with those who want to trick-or-treat with local or for bringing to school,” said Kate McAleer, owner and founder of Bixby Chocolate. “Adults have Halloween parties, too, and I do see the interjection of vegan chocolates in a party environment where kids are allergen sensitive.”

One of Bixby’s individually wrapped bars is the new Maine Grains Organic Oat Milk Chocolate Bar, which took home a gold Sofi Award from the Specialty Food Association in June. The interesting thing is Bixby won gold in the milk chocolate category in competition with chocolates made with cow’s milk.

“That to me was mind-blowing and so cool,” McAleer said. “Oat milk is the No. 1 dairy alternative milk. To me (the win) indicates there’s this new category that has been created as a plant-based alternative that’s become part of the normal discourse in the world of chocolate.”

The first product Bixby developed was its Whippersnapper dark chocolate bar, with Maine blueberries, Maine sea salt and cashews. The 1.5 ounce bar is all vegan. Its newest vegan products are the 2-ounce white chocolate smoothie bars.

Animal-themed vegan chocolates at Ragged Coast Chocolates in Westbrook see a jump in sales at Halloween. Photo courtesy of Ragged Coast Chocolates

At the Ragged Coast Chocolate boutique in Westbrook, the shop is stocking vegan dark chocolate skeleton bars in addition to some of its standard vegan chocolates, which see a boost in interest during Halloween. The shop has offered vegan chocolates, such as its 2-ounce dark chocolate bars in ancho chili-pecan and almond-sea salt varieties, since it was founded in 2007.

“The Frogletiers are an evergreen product but they gain in popularity at Halloween,” said Ragged Coast founder and co-owner Kate Shaffer, describing the frog-shaped chocolates. “The vegan Hedgehogs appear on the general autumn-themed menu and are also popular for Halloween. A lot of our vegan chocolates tend to be animal-themed.”


Sales of Ragged Coast dark chocolate tahini cups and peanut butter cups, both vegan, also spike near Halloween. (The vegan peanut butter cups won a 2023 ribbon from the Good Food Awards.)

Shoppers seeking Halloween gift assortments, particularly for children and grandchildren but also for themselves, scare up sales at Dean’s Sweets’ two shops on Fore and Cove streets in Portland at this time of year. Dean’s began making vegan truffles shortly after the company was founded in 2004 and now offers a vegan truffle assortment with chai, coconut, orange and stout varieties. Its newest vegan chocolate is the cherry bourbon bon bons. For Halloween, customers can purchase bewitching dark chocolate jack-o-lanterns, which are hollow, as well as solid dark chocolate pumpkins; both are vegan.

“Dark chocolate is the way to go this time of year,” said Dean’s co-owner Kristin Bingham. “For adults that want to do something Halloween-y after the kids go to bed, dark chocolate is way more interesting.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. Reach her at

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