History of the Teal Pumpkin Project

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Halloween History

Trick-or-treating has been popular in the United States and other countries for nearly 100 years.  It is said that Halloween beliefs & customs were brought to North America by the earliest Irish Immigrants fleeing the famines of the first half of the 19th century.

Modern day Halloween, with its merriment, costumes, parades and trick-or-treating, is a far cry from the ancient Celtic holiday once associated with the beginning of the dark, cold winter. A time of year where many thought the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. Today’s children’s celebrations include multiple parties, expensive costumes, and endless amounts of sugary goodness.

Although it is unknown exactly where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was started, the custom became popular in American culture round 1951 when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip.

Every child should be able to experience the joy and tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween. But kids with food allergies, are often left out of the fun since most candy is off-limits.  Children who have food allergies react to the proteins found in said foods and thus must avoid them altogether.


History of the Teal Pumpkin Project

In the fall of 2012, Becky Basalone, the director of a local food allergy support group in Tennessee (Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee or FACET) had the idea of painting a pumpkin teal (the color of food allergy awareness) and handing out non-food items to trick-or-treaters. Her inspiration came from her youngest son who has a history of anaphylaxis due to life-threatening food allergies and her older son that has several food intolerances.  Halloween is a food-centric holiday which makes it very scary for children with food allergies.  Often times, kids still want the experience of trick-or-treating, but can not enjoy the “treats” they collect as they can be life threatening.

The goal of the Teal Pumpkin project is to encourage inclusion for children with dietary limitations and restrictions. It does not desire to exclude candy from the Halloween tradition, but just encourages people to provide a safe alternative.


Halloween of 2014 is when The Teal Pumpkin Project got the attention of FARE (Food Allergy Research Education). FARE is the largest non-profit  national organization working on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies.  FARE began promoting the Teal Pumpkin Project to the media across the country. The concept went viral on social media, reaching more than five million people on FARE’s Facebook page and encouraging communities to start a new food-allergy friendly tradition.

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project helps make sure all children come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy to make a kid’s night & keep them safe.


Guest Writer – Autumn Chefan is a stay at home mom who home schools her two daughters. She is an advocate for children who suffer from food allergies.

Information came from: Allergic Living’s Courtney Born interview of Becky Basalone, History.com, and www.livescience.com



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