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What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

teal pumpkin

Trick or Treat! Many children will receive their trick-or-treating goodies. And you see the same decorations over and over again, time after time. Carved and lit up pumpkins. Witches with pointed hats and striped socks,. Faux spider webs spread over bushes. A homemade sheet ghost suspended from a tree. However, this year, you may see a new decoration and color in the mix: a teal pumpkin. While this addition may seem like a stylistic choice of your neighbor, it means a lot more to many people in the Northwest suburbs.

Food Allergies

In 2014, FARE, otherwise known as Food Allergy Research and Education, instituted the Teal Pumpkin Project. Inspired by a local awareness campaign initiated and ran by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET), many other areas have brought the concept home. The movement began in response to the difficulty children with food allergies face when trick-or-treating.

Many Halloween treats are not allergen safe. Many treats include nuts, eggs, gluten, and other allergens that can cause extreme illnesses and allergic reactions for children who suffer from allergies, celiac disease, and other medical conditions. The Teal Public Project allows trick-or-treaters to have non-food alternative treats.

Inspired to help children have a fun and successful Halloween? Here are some tips and frequently asked questions about the Teal Pumpkin Project.

How do I participate?

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is extremely easy! All you need is a pumpkin and some teal paint! Or even better, find a teal pumpkin at your local grocery store – many trick-or-treating pumpkin containers are teal colored. Place this pumpkin on your door step, on your front steps, or anywhere else in the front of your house or wherever you are handing out Halloween treats. This indicates to trick-or-treaters that your home has non-food treats. If you do not have the time to paint a pumpkin or cannot find an already teal pumpkin, create sign to hang on the outside of your door stating “No-Food Treats Available Here.”

What foods are considered allergens and harmful to those with food allergies?

There are many foods that are considered allergens. Some of the most common are:

  • Milk
  • Tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Sesame

However, nearly any food can cause an allergic reaction to a person.

What kind of non-food treats should I hand out?

The opportunities are endless! Think of small toys or trinkets such as:

  • blowing bubbles
  • Slinkies
  • bouncy balls
  • Silly Putty,
  • playing cards
  • glow sticks and glow bracelets
  • stickers
  • fun pencils
  • …and anything else!

Try shopping at the local dollar shop or dollar section or popular stores.

FARE does give some advice on things not to hand out are treats. “There are a few considerations when choosing which non-food items to hand out. First, some non-food items still contain food allergens. For example, some brands of moldable clay contain wheat.” According to FARE, non-food allergies are also something to be aware of when purchasing non-food treats. FARE states “choose latex-free items, as there are children who have latex allergies.”

Can I still pass out candy?

Of course, you can! FARE advises that Teal Pumpkin Project participators can still elect to provide food treats, but they should make sure to do so safely. This can be done by placing the non-food treats and food treats in separate bowls or containers. This step is extremely important. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “food allergens can potentially remain on objects if they are not carefully cleaned. Simply touching an object that contains something you are allergic to would either do nothing, or at worst possibly cause a rash on your skin at the site of contact. Without swallowing any of the allergen, it’s highly unlikely you would have any further reaction…In most cases, simply washing the area will stop the rash, and it’s like that no medication would be needed.”

When determining which treat should go to which trick-or-treater, FARE states that “You can either ask trick-or-treaters if they have any food allergies, or give every visitor a choice of which treat they’d like: candy or a non-food item.”

Why teal?

The color teal is the color signifying food allergy awareness. The color has long been used to bring awareness to food allergies for almost 20 years.

From all of us at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, have a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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