Teal pumpkins to help Utah kids trick-or-treat safely

Oct 30, 2023, 6:23 PM | Updated: Oct 31, 2023, 4:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Trick-or-treaters across Utah will be going door-to-door collecting candy for Halloween Tuesday. For more than 5,000 kids in Utah though, food allergies make Halloween complicated.

Those kids can’t simply grab a piece of candy without the risk of it making them sick, or worse, sending them into anaphylactic shock. Utah has a support network for families with this problem called The Food Allergy Network.

Francesca Rose, the network’s executive director, said one in 13 children in the U.S. has a life-threatening food allergy and over 56,000 children in Utah suffer from food allergies.

With such a high margin, the community is highlighting the use of teal pumpkins to be displayed on porches, to signal to kids and parents that their house has something to offer them that’s not food.

For Clarissa Reichmann’s 3-year-old son, it’s a milk allergy that’s concerning.

“Halloween is really challenging because milk is in so many things. Chocolate candy, but even things like gummy bears often have milk,” she said.

The Teal Pumpkin Project sign on a parent's house

The Teal Pumpkin Project sign on a parent’s house. (KSL TV)

For the first four months of his life, Reichmann said Lincoln was an extremely fussy baby, crying about 20 hours a day.

“When he was about 4 months old we gave him some formula. And he actually went into shock so we rushed him to the hospital and subsequently learned he was allergic to milk. “

She says she was relieved and full of fear all at the same time.

“It was terrifying…the worst day…of my life. But also the best day because we found out why he was so miserable,” she said.

Three years later, Lincoln is a rambunctious 3-year-old. Reichmann just has to make sure she packs all their food and reads every label.

“As a parent with a small child when you come up to a door like mine that signals ‘hey I’m safe with food allergies,’ it’s just this huge relief that’s lifted off of you because you live with this constant, ‘I have to keep my child safe, I have to keep my child alive,’” Rose said.

For Reichmann, seeing a teal pumpkin on a porch means everything.

“That makes me so happy because my son is included…I know that I don’t have to take anything away from him, I know that he’ll be happy, and he’ll be excited because he can keep what he has. “

She and Rose both hope that Utahns will consider heading to their nearest store and picking up some non-food trinkets along with a teal pumpkin.

“This year snap bracelets have been really fun, whistles, stickers have been really exciting, and even bubbles have been a hot item,” Reichmann said.

Rose said some of the most common type of food allergies are milk, eggs wheat, tree nuts and peanuts. Even mixing some candy can spread those to kids who have severe allergies. Food allergy experts recommend keeping the candy separate from the non-food items.

Rose just hopes Utahns will take the time to make Halloween a little easier for kids with food allergies.

“I would love a teal pumpkin on every house in Utah,” she said.

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Teal pumpkins to help Utah kids trick-or-treat safely