Teal pumpkins offer alternative tricks and treats for kids with severe food allergies

John McDevitt
October 29, 2019 - 2:27 pm
Teal pumpkin Halloween bucket

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Halloween usually means hoards of chocolate bars and sour gummies for trick-or-treaters, but not for all.

But in recent years, kids with life-threatening food allergies have been able to go door-to-door for safe treat alternatives, thanks to an initiative by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).

If you see a house displaying a teal pumpkin on the doorstep, that means there are non-food treats available, like stickers, fake vampire teeth or spider rings.

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FARE launched the Teal Pumpkin Project nationally five years ago.

“The packages that are handed out at Halloween are so small that it’s very difficult to know what all of the ingredients are,” said FARE CEO Lisa Gable. “The child usually ends up having to avoid all foods to make sure that they don't accidentally ingest one of their allergens, because if they do, they have to take an epinephrine auto-injector and call 911 and head off to the emergency room.  

“So you can imagine the stress and anxiety that comes with a holiday that is supposed to be the most fun holiday.”

Food allergies affect roughly 32 million Americans, including one in 13 children, according to FARE.

If you are displaying a teal pumpkin on your doorstep this year, you can add your house to an interactive and searchable map on FARE’s website, so families know which stops near them offer allergy-safe treats.

Dozens of houses are already registered in suburbs like Ardmore, Havertown or Collingswood, New Jersey.