Teal Pumpkins: What You Need To Know About Food Allergies On Halloween

'The nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option,' says the Teal Pumpkin Movement.

a teal pumpkin project flier displayed on a porch
Alexander Klink / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0 Cropped and Resized)

'The nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option,' says the Teal Pumpkin Movement.

You may have noticed that some of the Halloween decorations in your neighborhood contain pumpkins that are painted a funny shade of blue. If you’re wondering what that’s about, the simplest explanation is that it indicates that the person displaying the pumpkin is planning on handing out treats that children with food allergies can enjoy.

Wait, What?

The Teal Pumpkin Project was started by Food Allergy Research and Education as a way of making sure that all kids, even those with food allergies, get to have an enjoyable Halloween.

While millions of children across the U.S. enjoy trick-or-treating and, afterward, gobbling down all of the delicious candy they’ve accumulated, that’s not the case for all kids. Halloween can be a difficult time for kids with food allergies, who feel excluded because getting the wrong candy can literally be a matter of life and death.

Much of the candy that’s handed out to trick-or-treaters contains ingredients that could cause a fatal allergic reaction in some kids, such as nuts. In other kids, the candy may not be deadly, but it may contain an ingredient, such as dairy, that would at the very least make their Halloween extremely uncomfortable.

“The nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option,” says the project’s FAQ.

How Can I Help?

The first thing you need to do is gather some nonfood treats that you can give to trick-or-treaters with food allergies.

The sky is the limit, but as a starting point, the project suggests glow bracelets, stickers, pencils, or fun erasers.

glow bracelets on a retail shelf
  celiafung0717 / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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“Finding a unique treat at your house will be a fun surprise [for a child with food allergies],” says the project.

Next, buy a pumpkin and some teal paint and get to painting. Failing that, you can always just download and print out a free sign and post it on your door.

Further, if you’re interested, you can add your name and address to an online, interactive map that shows where homes are located that are participating in the project. And of course, if you yourself are a parent of a child with food allergies and would like to take them to homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, by all means check the map.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is not the only project intended to make Halloween enjoyable for kids who may not be able to enjoy trick-or-treating in its more traditional form. As Newsweek reports, kids with autism may not be able to ring a doorbell and say “Trick or Treat!” To that end, some homeowners are putting out blue pumpkins (darker than the teal) to let parents of kids with autism know that the kids will get treats without having to speak, if they don’t want to or aren’t able to.