Teal Pumpkin :: What It Means And Why It’s Important
Halloween is a scary time for many families and children, but not because of ghosts and goblins, but because of peanuts and soy and dairy. For children with allergies Halloween can be a time fraught with danger and sadness. A candy and treat filled holiday is a minefield for parents of children with food allergies. Thankfully, the Teal Pumpkin Project was created to address this situation.
What it Means
The idea behind the teal pumpkin is simple: it is a non-verbal signal to trick-or-treaters that you offer allergen free options like non-food trinkets. It allows children with severe allergies to participate in trick-or-treating without being “othered” and it offers some peace of mind for anxious parents. By placing a teal pumpkin at your home you’re letting everyone know you can be a “safe” option for kids with allergies. Some kids with allergies have started carrying a teal pumpkin pail to signal to those in the know that they have an allergy.
Why It’s Important
According to FARE.org (Food Allergy and Research Education), the organization that created the Teal Pumpkin Project, 1 in 13 children in the US have a food allergy. For some children, like mine, this allergy can be life threatening. Simply put, allergens are everywhere. As of January 1, 2023 the FDA requires labeling on all packages of the “Top 9” food allergens they are: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy(soybeans) & sesame. As I’m sure you can imagine, a lot of Halloween candy is off limits for kids with certain allergies. There are “hidden” allergens everywhere. You may think of the obvious allergens like peanuts in a Snickers or milk in all of the milk chocolate, but did you know: Twizzlers contain wheat and soy, Jolly Ranchers have soy, and 3 Musketeers and Baby Ruth contain eggs.
What to Handout
If you really want to hand out candy, consider some options for those with allergies. Several popular candies that are free from the “Top 9”:
- Smarties (if made in the US)
- Sour Patch Kids,
- Ring Pops
While these may be free from the top allergens as ingredients they may be made in a plant that processes other food items with allergens, so they may still be off limits for some kids. Another thing to consider is that because there are so many allergens, not just to the top 9, there is nothing that is 100% safe. That is where the non-candy items come in handy.
Consider getting fun, non-candy alternatives like toys or trinkets for those with allergies. Things to consider:
- Spider rings or vampire teeth
- Bouncy balls
- Temporary Tattoos
Last year I picked up a $1 teal pumpkin bucket from Target and filled it with Halloween stickers and bubbles that I purchased in bulk. These were just as popular as the candy. Just be sure to keep your teal pumpkin items separate from your “regular” candy.
Like all parents, I want my kid to be able to just be a kid and have fun on Halloween. I’ll do the worrying and checking of the labels. I’ll carry the anxiety. And if you want to join in on the Teal Pumpkin Project allergy parents everywhere will thank you for helping their kid to just be a kid!