Teal Pumpkin ProjectI can’t think of a color that is less Halloween-ish or less fall-ish than teal. It is the last color I’d expect to see this Oct. 31 as ghosts and goblins go door-to-door asking for treats. But, I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot of teal this year, and it will starkly stand apart from the orange, brown, yellow, black and white décor usually seen on Halloween. And that will be a good thing.

FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, has started the Teal Pumpkin Project. The organization is encouraging communities to start the tradition of offering non-food treats for trick-or-treaters to make Halloween safer for children with food allergies. Homes that offer these non-food treats should place a teal pumpkin (teal is the color of food allergy awareness) somewhere visible to indicate that they’re taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

A Non-Food Treats Available Here poster, complete with a picture of a teal pumpkin, is available to download for free from FARE, and the website has many ideas for non-food treat options – some are better than others. I’d avoid anything plastic that kids would put in their mouths like vampire fangs, whistles, kazoos or noisemakers. Often these incredibly cheap toys are made with toxic plastics, but otherwise, the list looks useful:

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils
According to CNN, this idea has spread quickly on social media. FARE’s Facebook post about the project reached 2.7 million people in less than 72 hours and posts about it have been shared over 31,000 times. If you search for “teal pumpkin” on Pinterest, you’ll see the idea is taking off there, too. And, of course, the hashtag #tealpumpkinproject is turning up everywhere. So expect to see a lot of teal pumpkins this holiday season.

FARE doesn’t advocate getting rid of candy completely — after all, there are many trick-or-treaters without allergies — but FARE wants children with allergies to be included at every house. So, they suggest that homes that want to have both food treats and non-food treats “keep the experience safe by keeping your food treats and non-food treats in separate bowls, and by asking trick-or-treaters if they have any food allergies or giving them a choice of which treat they’d like: candy, or a non-food item.”

If you’re going to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, what will you be putting in your non-treat bowl?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.