Halloween is getting more colorful every year – and more inclusive!
Maybe this year as you’ve driven through your neighborhood, you’ve noticed a wider-than-usual variety of pumpkins in all kinds of bright colors. Why is this? What does it mean?
Many different organizations and individuals are using different pumpkin colors to advocate for important issues.
Take teal for instance. Maybe you’ve noticed teal pumpkins in your community.
What do teal pumpkins mean at Halloween?
Teal pumpkins represent food allergies.
When you see a teal pumpkin on the porch of someone’s home, you can (hopefully!) be sure that the home is offering non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. This is especially important for children with dangerous food allergies where even one bite of the wrong candy can pose serious side effects.
Here are 7 things to know about teal pumpkins at Halloween:
1. The Teal Pumpkin Project is an effort by the Food Allergy Research & Education organization
Also known as FARE, the Food Allergy Research & Education organization started the Teal Pumpkin Project as a means of raising awareness of children with food allergies. Many children in the U.S. and around the world suffer the debilitating side effects of difficult food allergies. And since we’ve made Halloween all about candy, it can pose a frustrating problem for parents who want their children to participate, but (more importantly) want to keep their children safe.
FARE wants to actively promote inclusion for all children who are trick-or-treating during the Halloween season.
There’s no reason that a child with a food allergy can’t also enjoy Halloween night.
While the Teal Pumpkin Project originally began in the U.S., teal pumpkins are now being used worldwide by houses that want to welcome trick-or-treaters with food allergies. Each year, more people participate than the year before.
2. Teal is the color of food allergy awareness
For over 20 years, teal has been used as the color to indicate food allergy awareness as well as food-related medical conditions. This is nothing new. So it was only natural that pumpkins representing food allergy awareness be painted teal.
Painting teal pumpkins isn’t hard. To add a teal pumpkin to your porch, simply:
- Buy a pumpkin. Look for a pumpkin with as smooth of a surface as possible.
- Wash the pumpkin. Remove as much of the dirt and grime on the pumpkin as possible. (Baby wipes do the trick!)
- Thoroughly dry the pumpkin. Don’t start painting while the pumpkin is wet.
- Gather your supplies. Paintbrushes, sponges, and cotton swabs make good painting tools.
- Test your teal paint on a small section of the pumpkin. Acrylic paint, chalkboard paint, and spray paint are all good options.
- Have fun! You’re painting a pumpkin for a good cause.
Once you’re done creating your teal pumpkin masterpiece, put it on your porch. It could be a helpful conversation starter with neighbors, friends, or family who come for a visit. And who knows what impact that could have!
3. The goal of teal pumpkins is to make trick-or-treating safer for kids
Not all children can eat all treats. While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to forget at Halloween when purchasing candy.
And as parents of a child with food allergies know, sending kids into the neighborhood to collect candy on Halloween night can be terrifying (and not because of the scary decorations!). Imagine what could happen if a child with a food allergy eats a piece of candy without his parents knowing it. On a dark night with so much activity, it would be easy for a child to sneak a treat.
The best solution is to create places where children are free to accept the treat without any fear of allergy repercussions.
The Teal Pumpkin Project started as a local event in 2013 and caught on quickly due to a massive social media following.
The Teal Pumpkin Project has a simple mission: to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for children living with food allergies (1 in 13 children), and other people that are impacted by intolerances and similar conditions.
4. Teal pumpkins are becoming increasingly important
It is no secret that food allergies are on the rise.
In fact, as many as one in 13 children currently has a known food allergy. And for these kids, even trace amounts of allergens can create serious reactions. Many traditional Halloween treats are filled with food allergens, including these common ingredients:
And sometimes we can’t even be sure what ingredients are contained in the treats we offer! Many treats don’t come with allergen markings on the package.
Houses participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project offer non-food treats to help children avoid allergens while still getting to participate in a fun and memorable evening with friends and family.
Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project lets children know they are welcome to participate just as they are.
5. Participating with teal pumpkins doesn’t mean you can’t also offer candy
Participating with teal pumpkins doesn’t mean you can’t offer candy treats to your trick-or-treaters who are able to tolerate them. When you place a teal pumpkin on your porch, you’re signaling to parents of children with allergies that you are also offering a non-food treat or trinket that is safe for their child.
A good rule of thumb is to communicate with the parent who comes to the door rather than relying on the word of the child, especially if the child is young.
Offering children a tiny toy or art supply can go a long way in communicating to a child with a food allergy that you see and care about them. It also makes their Halloween night a memorable one for everyone involved.
6. The Teal Pumpkin Project offers a map
Parents and children with food allergies don’t want to wander the neighborhood – block after block – looking for a house with a teal pumpkin. So advocates created a handy Teal Pumpkin Project map that allows advocates to mark their home as a safe place for children with food allergies to visit.
Simply put, the interactive map lets families find houses that are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
It’s fun watching the map fill up with participating houses. Take a look!
7. The Teal Pumpkin Project offers limitless room for creativity
In addition to placing a teal pumpkin on your porch – which is pretty creative! – it’s possible to get really creative with treats for Halloween night. Consider these inexpensive ideas for fast and easy treats that kids will love:
- foam masks
- glow sticks
- rubber ducks
- spider rings
- temporary tattoos
The sky is truly the limit! Have fun and let your imagination run wild. You’ll love it … and the kids will, too.
Halloween should be a good experience for all children, but with a growing number of children facing significant food allergies, it is becoming more important all the time for communities to be inclusive.
This year, why not put a teal pumpkin on your porch and then list your house on the Teal Pumpkin Project Map? You may find that you have more fun this year than you have in the past.
The look on the face of a child who is able to trick-or-treat at your house will make it all worth it!