Teal Pumpkin Project // Food Allergies at Halloween

by tinysneakers

I’m pretty excited about taking Kabes trick or treating this year {and celebrating Halloween in general} and so is he – every day I get a request for at least three different Halloween costumes followed by a “Is it Halloween yyyyyet?”.

halloween with food allergies

Last year, however, the whole holiday made me nervous.  On the verge of three, KB was finally really old enough to trick-or-treat on Halloween. For the first time he understood wearing a costume and knocking on doors. He practiced saying “Trick or treat!” and “Boo!” to our neighbors’ ghosts and pumpkins that had been out since early September. He pointed out all the skeletons and witches he saw; delighted, not scared. He requested to wear his spider shirt on a daily basis. Every day — no, every hour — he gave me a different {yet adamant} declaration of what he’d like to be for Halloween. {Last season’s front-runners were a princess, a robot, and a boat — luckily for me, robot won in the end. Not quite sure what I would have done had it been boat.}

robot halloween costume

While plenty of kids start the trick-or-treating tradition well before 3 years old, we’d never even considered taking Kabes before. To me, there was no point in dragging him around outside past his bedtime collecting sugar-filled candy he wouldn’t be able to eat because of food allergies – it seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. He wouldn’t know what he was missing and simply dressing up in a Halloween costume was exciting enough. But last year, we decided he could go to a few houses … and I was only slightly terrified.

halloween with kids

Yes, terrified, a totally normal reaction to a fun, kiddie-friendly holiday like Halloween. For most parents of young kids, the biggest concern about Halloween is dealing with the sugar rush that comes from the onslaught of typically-forbidden candy. But for parents like me, it’s a much bigger deal. My son has food allergies, making trick-or-treating for candy a little bit of a cruel activity. Sure, we could choose not to let him go trick-or-treating again this year, but eventually, he’ll know he’s missing out on something. Even last year, still in the throws of toddlerhood, he would’ve known something’s up as he watches his friends walk around the neighborhood collecting treats. Hiding him from Halloween isn’t my preferred choice. So the other option seems to be letting him go trick-or-treating and then doing a sleight-of-hand magic trick to swap out all of his treats with something safe before he has a chance to dig in and realize, yet again, that he can’t have something.

three year old halloween

Luckily, there’s a third option out there and if enough people get on board it could be pretty cool: The Teal Pumpkin Project. The Food Allergy Research and Education organization {FARE} is leading the way in providing a safer option for kids with food allergies at Halloween as well as kids {or parents of kids more likely} that just don’t want so much candy. They’re encouraging families that want to participate to paint a pumpkin teal, which is the color of food allergy awareness, and place it on their front porch with a sign explaining the project. The teal pumpkin lets kids and parents know that the house has non-food Halloween treats available, meaning it’s safe for kids with food allergies, and they can actually keep the goodies they get on their trick-or-treating adventure. While at first it may sound like this is for a small audience, you might be surprised: As stated on FARE’s website, 1 in 13 kids are affected by food allergies in the US.

kid halloween costumes

While some may balk at the idea of a non-candy Halloween treat, I’m in love with the idea, and not just because it personally benefits my son. I happened to live on the same street as my kindergarten teacher growing up and she was notorious for giving out treats that had nothing to do with candy: finger puppets, erasers, or pencils. It was one of my favorite houses to visit on Halloween, and I may have tried to stealthily stop there more than once in the same evening. Plus, this year, my son is alllllll about the candy. He’s been asking for “candy day” since mid-September. Oy vey. I wouldn’t mind if quite so much didn’t end up in his bucket to start with.


Here are some fun ideas for non-food Halloween treats:

  • Glow sticks
  • Rubberband bracelets
  • Pencils, pens, crayons, or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils



teal pumpkin project for food allergies at halloween

If you’re interested in the idea but don’t want to commit or are worried about it being too expensive, consider having two bowls {labeled} for kids to choose from – one with traditional treats and the other with something non-edible or allergy-friendly.

What do you think about The Teal Pumpkin Project – will you hop on board this Halloween? We sure will! Time to go paint some pumpkins!

{If you get in on the action, share your pictures on social media to help spread the word and awareness, using the hashtag #TealPumpkinProject.}

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

CARLA October 15, 2015 at 5:17 am

and had to add we love us some oriental trading for TOYS not CANDY —-even the nine year old.


tinysneakers October 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

I was just looking through their stuff – so many goodies!


Pamela Hernandez October 15, 2015 at 7:54 am

I gave up handing out candy long ago but last year was my first teal pumpkin. Such a great program. This year I have glow bracelets, temporary tattoos and “jeweled” rings to hand out.


tinysneakers October 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

Oo I bet glow bracelets will be a big hit! I love that it’s becoming more popular to do things other than candy!


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