When it comes to Halloween, Americans are suckers for candy and spooky decorations. According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), at least 61% of us will be coloring our porches orange with pumpkins and hanging corn-cobbed wreaths on our front doors to welcome trick-or-treaters. In fact, the average household will spend roughly $125 on Halloween, and Candy Industry Magazine reports that the biggest portion of our spending will be dedicated to confections and decorations. What could be sweeter? Perhaps knowing that the treats we buy and happily drop into goody bags won't be tossed into the trash later due to life-threatening allergies or cause an unexpected trip to the hospital.
The Meaning Behind Teal Pumpkins
An estimated one in thirteen trick-or-treaters might have severe to life-threatening food allergies, according to the Food and Allergy Research and Education (FARE) nonprofit organization. FARE is dedicated to finding a cure for food allergies, keeping people with food allergies safe, and giving them a sense of belonging. The organization recently launched a food allergy awareness campaign called the Teal Pumpkin Project. FARE is suggesting that households opening their doors to little Princess Elsas, ice monsters, and Olafs should offer safer treats that children with food allergies may enjoy. Families will be able to identify homes that offer allergy-friendly goodies by displaying a teal-painted pumpkin by the door.
You may be thinking that passing out treats and accommodating special diets just don’t seem to go together as easily as ghosts and goblins do. It can sound overwhelming, and a number of questions may be popping into your head. Where do we draw the line? If we’re going to eliminate the biggies such as milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, and corn, what sweets are left to purchase? And if we’re going to show consideration for children with food allergies, maybe we should also be mindful of those who must avoid gluten altogether and respectful of those who maintain kosher or halal diets too. Furthermore, some children can’t have sugar or animal products, so add sugar-free and vegan to the list. What might be left to buy? Lollies or gum? Well, we can’t forget about the kids and tweens with orthodontia either—many confections are destructive to their expensive dental work and that includes chewing gum, caramels, gummies, and hard candies. The thought of keeping track of all this can be a frightening endeavor.
The NCA expects an estimated 80% of households with children will pass out goodies this year. But while that sounds pretty sweet, four in ten shoppers will make those candy purchases based solely on promotional sales or the lowest price. The other six in ten shoppers will select their own family favorites. According to the data, we just don’t give as much consideration to whether gluten-free ghosts and nut-free ninjas will actually survive should they sample our sweets, much less enjoy them.
But handing out safe and inclusive options doesn’t have to be as overwhelming, expensive, or scary as you might be thinking. FARE recommends nonfood treats as the best choices. As long as you stay away from products made from latex, Play-Doh (which often contains wheat), and chalk (which can trigger milk allergy symptoms), your handouts will be safe and enjoyed by all. Cowboys and fairies alike will enjoy almost anything glow-in-the-dark such as glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces. Pencils, erasers, and miniature Slinky toys are also spook-tacular items to drop into the bags of adorable witches and Lego men. Young pirates won’t mind discovering stickers, bubbles, or bookmarks as they go through their loot at the end of the night either. These items and many more are inexpensive enough and may be found at most bargain stores.
If kicking candy to the curb seems too radical, an easy pleaser is to stick with your candy tradition and just provide some alternatives for those with allergies. Keep allergy-free treats in a separate bowl from the sweets and proudly display your teal pumpkin. If you’ll be offering your usual fare as a default, a sign letting families know they are welcome to ask for alternatives will ensure all children will leave your door happy. You’ll be satisfied too, knowing your money won’t end up in the trash can later, but rather was well-spent. This Halloween, give your Jack-o-lantern a boo-tiful blue hue and include the whole neighborhood in the festivities!