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Why Teal Pumpkins on Halloween?

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Get ready to learn all about the teal pumpkin tradition on Halloween! If you’ve ever been curious about the occasional teal-colored pumpkins out on Halloween, I’ve got the full scoop. I think it’s a totally fantastic tradition worth sharing far and wide. I’m going to tell you all about what the teal pumpkins signify, why people participate, and how you can jump in.

As we near the end of October, you may notice the occasional teal pumpkin out on display. Maybe it’s a design choice? Possibly. OR it could be a sign that the home is participating in a very cool, new Halloween tradition. 

We now know that 25% of American homes have someone with a food allergy within the family. A teal pumpkin out on Halloween can signify to trick-or-treaters that the treats passed out at that home are allergen-friendly and (nearly always) a food or candy alternative (think: toy, stickers, glow sticks, etc.).

I’ve dedicated over a decade of my life (as a holistic nutritionist) to developing and sharing recipes inclusive of various special diets (think: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, etc.), and I think the Teal Pumpkin Project is a fabulous endeavor worth considering by all Halloween-participating homes. 

The Teal Pumpkin Project has been popularized by the people behind Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the organization responsible for starting it is the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET). 

Here’s an excerpt from tealpumpkinproject.org

Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.

What can you pass out if you want to participate in the Team Pumpkin Project this year? I have so many ideas for you! Here’s a list of 10, but you can check out my unabridged list (with price breakdowns) in my 10 Affordable Non Candy Halloween Treats article.

Variety of keychain pop beads, small containers of slime, glow sticks, and a couple of small pumpkins all on a blue surface.
  1. Fidget Toys (Halloween and generic style
  2. Glow in the Dark Slime
  3. Glow Sticks
  4. Mini Play-Doh 
  5. Halloween Water Bead Balls
  6. Glow in the Dark Bugs
  7. Sticker Puzzles
  8. Halloween Slap Bracelets
  9. Glow in the Dark Bouncy Balls
  10. Finger Slingshot

Though some folks may put out a teal pumpkin because it matches the decor, but I’d wager that the majority are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. The Teal Pumpkin Project endeavors that trick-or-treating children with food allergies can enjoy goodies without exposure to food ingredients that could cause them harm.

Different from the Teal Pumpkin Project, there is a somewhat recent idea promoting the use of blue pumpkin buckets (for candy collection) to be carried by autistic children on Halloween. I dug into the why’s and quickly uncovered a wide range of support and criticism, both from members of the autistic community and parents of autistic children.

If this subject interests you more, I encourage you do some digging!

How to Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project

Truth be told, there’s no formal process to participate! It could be as simple as passing out bouncy balls this year in lieu of candy. Or, if you so choose, you could go all the way in by displaying teal pumpkins on your porch, putting out a yard sign, and registering your home on the Teal Pumpkin Project Map. It’s as large of a project as you want to make it.

woman in a green shirt holding a teal pumpkin

FIRST: make (or get) a teal pumpkin 

Displaying an actual yard sign or putting a teal pumpkin out on your porch can signify that you’re participating. Here are some ideas:

Paint your very own teal pumpkin. This is what we do on Halloween! It’s a fun craft activity for our girls. You’ll want to grab a pumpkin from your local pumpkin patch or grocery store, some teal-colored paint, and a brush (or some sponges). I like to top our teal pumpkins at home with a sprinkle of teal glitter just before the paint fully sets. You can do this before or after a carving, if you choose, too!

Order a teal pumpkin. You can also buy a teal pumpkin! There are a few options online and in stores. Here are a few for you to browse:

  1. Blow-up pumpkin for your yard ($19.99)
  2. Cute wooden sign that reads “If there are foods you cannot eat, ask for a trinket instead of a treat.” ($23.00)
  3. Cute wooden pumpkin door hanger that says “allergen friendly” ($29.99)
  4. Faux teal pumpkin ($29.50)

Print or purchase a yard sign. You can simply print this free sign to display on your door. I also found these cute yard signs that can be used year after year.

  1. “Allergy Safe Treats Here” sign from Etsy ($19.99)
  2. Yard Sign by FARE ($6.99)
  3. Yard Sign that says “We have Candy and Non-Food Treats” ($9.99)
  4. Several FREE signs you can print directly from FARE ($0.00)

SECOND: stock up on non-food treats

Before Halloween, and instead of candy, stock up on affordable, small, non-candy treats to pass out to your costumed visitors. Here are a few ideas and for my full list, check out my 10 Affordable Non Candy Halloween Treats article.

  1. Fidget Toys (Halloween and generic style
  2. Glow in the Dark Slime
  3. Glow Sticks
  4. Mini Play-Doh 
  5. Halloween Water Bead Balls
  6. Glow in the Dark Bugs
  7. Sticker Puzzles
  8. Halloween Slap Bracelets
  9. Glow in the Dark Bouncy Balls
  10. Finger Slingshot

THIRD: add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map

The FARE hosts a really neat Teal Pumpkin Project Map that allows families with food allergies to search for nearby homes! If you’re participating, you can add your address to this map, giving nearby kids an extra dose of fun and their parents the cozy feelings of a supportive community.

Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map.

FOURTH: go make a trick-or-treater’s day

When that doorbell rings, confidently swing that door wide, gasp in delight over their fantastic costumes, encourage each kid to show you who (or what) they’re dressed up as, and then let them choose from your basket of non-candy goodies. I promise you, if you hand out Glow in the Dark Slime, your house will be a favorite! 

How Kids can Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project

If you’re prepping your little one to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year, whether it’s because you’re a family with food allergies or you would rather they collect non-candy items, you can also equip your kids with the following: 

A teal pumpkin to collect their treats in. While most adults won’t understand the correlation, it could be a conversation starter. 

  1. Here’s a classic bucket option ($9.99). 
  2. Here’s a felt bucket option that glows ($9.99).
  3. Here’s a canvas bag option ($8.99).

Teach your little ones how to advocate for their needs. Here are a few examples: 

  1. Help them learn this phrase, “I have allergies, do you have any non-candy treats?”
  2. For a non-speaking option, have them carry and show this sticker on their bucket.

Consider getting a small stash of allergen-friendly treats you can use to “exchange” for the candy your kiddo collects on Halloween. For example, for every piece of candy, you trade them for a sticker.

For additional support for families with food allergies on Halloween, I encourage you explore the tealpumpkinproject.org! They have wonderful resources and ideas for how to reframe Halloween as a way to have lots of fun (vs. lots of candy). In addition to encouraging families, always carry an epi-pen and make sure you are reading the labels (every time, even if you’re familiar with the brand).

I hope this encourages you to consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year! 

Meet the Author
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Cassy Joy Garcia

HOWDY! I’m Cassy Joy and I am just so happy you’re here. I’m the founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Nutrition Consultant here at Fed and Fit. What started as a food blog back in 2011 has evolved now into so much more.
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