October 28, 2019

Teal Pumpkins & Other Halloween Food Allergy Tricks

Teal Pumpkin Project

Halloween hasn’t changed much over the years. Kids in costume anxiously wait for the sun to go down so they can race outside and start knocking on neighbors’ doors, filling those jack-o-lantern buckets as they go. Many will mindlessly rip into a candy bar (or seven) along the way. But for food allergy families, Halloween is yet another reminder that they can’t dive into the fun without worrying about potential life-threatening allergic reactions.

An organization called Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is committed to improving the quality of life for people with food allergies. They spearhead the Teal Pumpkin Project®, which promotes inclusion and respect of children with food allergies. Everyone deserves to have a fun and safe Halloween!

Teal Pumpkin Project logo

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is simple and shows food allergy families (as well as those who cannot have candy for other reasons) that you want to create a positive experience for everyone. All you need to do is set a teal pumpkin on your doorstep, which indicates that you have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters. Teal pumpkins are readily available online and in stores, or you could even print out a Teal Pumpkin Project flyer to place on your door.

Once you set your sights on participating in the project, you will have no trouble finding inexpensive non-food items to offer on Halloween. Glow sticks/bracelets, spider rings, temporary tattoos, pencils, erasers, and stickers are just a few ideas to help get you started.

There’s no need to completely eliminate candy from your Halloween offerings. Just keep candy and non-food treats in separate bowls. You can ask each group of trick-or-treaters if anyone has food allergies, or you can let them pick from either bowl.

Did you know that the fun-size candies that abound on Halloween may contain different ingredients than the full-size versions? Plus they often don’t have ingredient lists on the wrapper. Food allergy parents have a tough task trying to determine what candy is safe for their children, so non-food treats make their job a bit easier.

If you have a child with a food allergy, here are some trick-or-treating tips to keep in mind:

  • Explain (more than once!) how important it is that they do not dig into the candy before you get home and look it all over.
  • Stash a few pieces of safe candy in your pocket so that you can let your child enjoy a worry-free treat or two along the way.
  • Bring an epinephrine auto-injector with you and keep your eyes and ears open for any troubling symptoms in case they sneak something when you aren’t looking.
  • Be meticulous about checking candy labels when you get home.
  • Consider starting a switch witch tradition in your family. The switch witch gladly takes candy off your kids’ hands in exchange for a toy. You could offer this option for allergenic candy or even all of it! The switch witch is dentist-approved!

Children with food allergies miss out on a lot of food-related fun all year long. Adults recognize that it’s a small price to pay to avoid a life-threatening emergency, but no one likes to feel left out. A little extra effort by neighbors and parents will ensure that everyone can have a safe and happy Halloween!