What’s With All the Teal Pumpkins?


Ahhh, it’s finally fall. East Tennessee is beginning to turn those beautiful shades of orange, red, and yellow that are the envy of the nation. Pumpkins are popping up on every porch, and in my opinion, Knoxville looks quite lovely decked in orange.

So why are you seeing teal pumpkins everywhere?

I learned the answer the hard way two years ago. Right after my daughter turned one, she was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Immediately, my mind was flooded with all the food currently in our house that could kill her, but over the next few days, I began to mourn special occasions and treats that she would miss out on. Puppy chow at Christmas, her grandfather’s peanut butter cookies, my beloved Reese’s cups?!! But trick-or-treating topped the list. Costumes are fun, but everyone knows the real joy of Halloween is collecting candy from all your neighbors and eating yourself into a sugar-induced stupor. With all peanut-products out and most other candies negated by cross-contamination, would Halloween become a sad reminder of all the treats stolen by my daughter’s food allergy?

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project. 

An idea born right here in East Tennessee (click here for the story), the Teal Pumpkin Project is a nationwide movement to provide safe Halloween treats to children with food allergies. 

The Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) shared their idea with FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) to encourage families across the nation to support children with food allergies by including them in trick-or-treating festivities. Simply paint a pumpkin teal or print FARE’s sign to let others know you have non-food treats available at your house. This year, you can even add your address to an interactive map, allowing families with food allergies to come directly to you. Click here to see the map.

What are some non-food treats you can provide?

  • pencils and erasers
  • rings
  • vampire fangs
  • silly straws
  • glow sticks
  • crayons
  • stickers
  • bubbles
  • whistles
  • mini notepads
  • bouncy balls
  • festive cups

GOOD NEWS. Walmart and Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT)  have teamed up to offer non-food treats at all their stores. I was just there this week and was overjoyed to see an ENTIRE AISLE of non-food treats all clearly labeled with FAACT’s teal ghost logo. You can find it right next to the Halloween decor and candy aisles. Here are some treats I picked up to add to our “teal pumpkin” stash. 

The best part of providing non-food treats at Halloween? They never go bad! You can save all your leftovers for next year. I also experienced an interesting phenomenon last year. Several families with toddlers and other very young children politely asked if they could have a non-food treat even though no one was allergic. Many moms and toddlers might prefer the trinket over candy anyway, and I am happy to oblige! I aim to keep enough non-food treats from year to year so that anyone may have one if they prefer. 

The goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project is not to restrict anyone from fun. It’s about including everyone! So you pass out those full size candy bars and be the most awesome house on the street, but consider picking up a few stickers or hot wheel cars and include everyone in your fun. Children everywhere will thank you!



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