This Halloween you might see a lot of teal pumpkins around your neighborhood. Maybe you have one of your own. Or maybe you’re wondering what a teal pumpkin means.
The story goes that seven years ago a Tennessee mom named Becky Basalone wanted to find a way to make Halloween easier on the kids who have nut allergies. Halloween can be a major bummer for those kids. No Snickers Reese’s cups for them. And then there’s cross-contamination to worry about.
So Basalone came up with the Teal Pumpkin Project. The concept is pretty basic. You put a teal pumpkin in front of your home to let parents and their kids know that you have non-food treats to give out. In addition to (or as an alternative to) your candy bowl, you have a bowl full of small toys or other knickknacks, like bubbles, stickers, and pencils.
Since 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project has been promoted by the non-profit group Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Their goal is to see a teal pumpkin on every doorstep in America. When you participate in the project, you’re helping to make Halloween fun for all children, not just the ones who can eat a Baby Ruth.
“It allows kids to dress up and go out with their friends without fear, without feeling left out, and some peace of mind for parents that they won’t have to micro-manage their child’s treats,” said mom Chelsea Baker Snare in a conversation with USA Today.
Snare’s little boy Jackson is allergic to tree nuts. It’s estimated that 1.2 million kids in the US have nut allergies, which is around 2% of the non-adult population. Those kids are at risk for anaphylaxis and death. But it’s not just kids with nut allergies who run into trouble on Halloween.
Natalie Brenneman, mother of 3-year-old Evan, also spoke with USA Today. She says Evan has a rare condition called Prader-Willi Syndrome. Evan’s brain thinks his body is hungry when it’s not. To prevent childhood obesity, Evan is on a low-carb diet and avoids sugars and sweeteners. His favorite non-food treat on Halloween are glow sticks.
“Change is hard,” Brenneman told USA Today. “But I think folks will be surprised at how little effort it takes to offer non-edible treats. Toys last longer than candy and might very well be cheaper, too.”
Some other options for non-food treats this Halloween are spider rings, temporary tattoos, Play-Doh, and bouncy balls. Find more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project at the FARE website.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Teal Pumpkin Project should not be confused with the Blue Buckets for Autism project, which is making the rounds on social media right now. With Blue Buckets for Autism, kids carry traditional pumpkin buckets that are painted blue while trick-or-treating. This lets others know the child has autism and may not be able to communicate like other children. It’s meant to helpreduce the child’s stress or anxiety while allowing them to have fun on Halloween. ]