After Christmas, Halloween is almost every kid’s favorite holiday. What’s not to like about dressing up in fun costumes and getting free candy?
But, for kids with food allergies (and for their parents), Halloween can be a little less fun. Many trick-or-treating candies are off-limits for kids with severe food allergies.
So, what’s the solution? Well, there are multiple options. Here are some ideas to make Halloween safe for all trick-or-treaters.
The Teal Pumpkin Project®
Years ago, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) started a nationwide initiative called The Teal Pumpkin Project® to make trick-or-treating safe and happy for all trick-or-treaters – including kids with food allergies. To participate, simply offer non-food treats or allergy-safe candies on Halloween. 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.
To add yourself to the list of Teal Pumpkin Project Houses, click here.
For parents with kids who have food allergies, plan to carry safe snacks so your little ones aren’t tempted by non-safe treats.
Can I Still Hand Out Candy?
Absolutely! Just do it safely. You can keep the experience safe by keeping your food treats and non-food treats in separate bowls. You can either ask trick-or-treaters if they have any food allergies, or give every visitor a choice of which treat they’d like: candy or a non-food item. FARE has signs to help you, including one that says “You Pick: Candy or Prize.” Click here to get Teal Pumpkin Project resources.
If you’d really like to hand out candy, here are options that are free of the top eight allergens — wheat, milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
Hot Tamales: Spicy, cinnamon-y goodness.
Haribo Gold-Bears: Who doesn’t love a gummy bear?
Jolly Ranchers: So many flavors, so little time.
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans: What’s more fun than fun-size bags of Jelly Bellys?
Life Savers: Your Halloween life preserver.
Ring Pops: Is it candy, or is it jewelry? You decide.
Skinny Pop Popcorn: Mix things up for that trick-or-treater who likes savory more than sweet.
Swedish Fish: They taste like fruit, not like fish.
Enjoy Life Halloween Variety Pack Chocolate Minis: Chocolate goodness that’s safe for everyone to enjoy.
This list is meant only to be a guide. Since manufacturers change ingredient lists, read the label on the treats you purchase before giving it to anyone with a food allergy. To be safe, call the number on the back of the candy label to confirm that the company’s processing protocols are safe for your needs. If a food label isn’t available, then the food is not safe to eat.
Non-Food Treats FTW
While kids love candy, they are also pretty crazy about fun non-food treats. Plus, if there any leftovers, you won’t be tempted to eat the extra candy (or are we the only ones who do that?!?).
Here are just a few ideas, easily accessible at your local dollar store (or even the discount area at Target):
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
A New Halloween Tradition
If your child has a food allergy and you’re concerned about accidental exposure, you might decide to forego trick-or-treating altogether. In that case, your family can start a new Halloween tradition that doesn’t center around food. Here are new ways your family can enjoy Halloween:
- Scary (or not so scary) movie night
- Haunted houses
- Scavenger hunt
- Halloween crafts or activities
- Pumpkin decorating
No matter how you celebrate Halloween, we can all help make it a little safer for those with allergies. If you’re unsure whether you or a loved one has food allergies, we can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified allergists at any of our five locations. Have a happy Halloween!