How to Make Halloween Less Scary for Food Allergies

PHOTO: Two-year-old Lee Beal gets ready to celebrate a food allergy free Halloween. Courtesy of Tyffani Tucker
Two-year-old Lee Beal gets ready to celebrate a food allergy free Halloween.

For two-year-old Lee Beal, the scariest part of Halloween isn't a ghost or a goblin. It's the candy.

According to Tyffani Tucker, little “L.B.’s” mom, the Arkansas toddler is allergic to milk, eggs, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.

“One small bite of a candy bar could send him into anaphylactic shock,” Tucker said.

Now thanks to the new Teal Pumpkin campaign sponsored by the allergy awareness group Food Allergy Research & Education, L.B. and other kids who live with allergies will be able to trick-or-treat with less worry about life-threatening allergic reactions.

Pumpkins painted the color teal -- the color of food allergy awareness -- alert parents that a house will give out small toys instead of candy to children with allergies. It’s a simple gesture that can have a big impact, said FARE spokeswoman Veronica LaFemina.

“That moment when you see a child get to have a treat that they don’t have to trade out or give away is really something special,” she said.

The idea started with a Tennessee allergy group last year, LaFemina said. It was such a hit, the organization decided to roll out a national campaign starting this year for the one in 13 American children diagnosed with food allergies.

Some non-food items still contain allergens, so FARE cautions participants to choose candy-free alternatives carefully. Play-Doh, for example, contains wheat. And some toys are made of latex which can also cause allergic reactions.

Acceptable allergy-free tricks and treats include glow sticks, pencils, stickers and plastic vampire fangs. Houses and apartments that don’t have a pumpkin can download teal pumpkin posters from the FARE website.

This year L.B. is dressing up as Brobee, his favorite character from the kid’s TV show, "Yo Gabba Gabba." Tucker said he is beyond excited at being able to join his four older siblings on their trick-or-treat rounds through the neighborhood.

“We just want people to know that we’re not asking people to stop giving out candy,” she said. “We are asking them to give kids with food allergies another option so they have something they can look forward to on Halloween too.”