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How teal pumpkins make Halloween less scary for trick-or-treaters with allergies

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Zombies, ghosts, witches - Halloween is all about getting spooky, from costumes to decorations.

WHITNEY ALLEN: We have, like, the OG Hallmark paper cutout skeleton in, like, one window, and then, like, the shadow witch in another window (laughter).

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

That is Whitney Allen of Gordonsville, Va. But as a mom of two daughters, she knows that for most children, the day's major focus is not decor. It's trick-or-treating.

ALLEN: We're going to have a table set up. One end of the table is going to be a bowl with classic candy - you know, some popcorn, some gummy fruits. And then the other end is going to have some non-candy, non-food treats.

CHANG: That's right, non-food treats. That's because for many parents, the scariest part of Halloween can be the risks posed for kids with food allergies. This year, Allen is taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Halloween can be extra scary for the 1 in 13 children with food allergies. But it doesn't have to be. The Teal Pumpkin Project creates...

KELLY: It's a campaign launched in 2014 by a group called Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE. And it's designed to make Halloween safer for kids with allergies. Participating households put a teal pumpkin on their porch that tells trick-or-treaters with allergies or dietary restrictions this house has non-food treats.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Like small toys, games or stickers.

CHANG: Allen's kids don't have allergies, but she herself has celiac disease, and one of her daughter's best friends has diabetes. She says the Teal Pumpkin Project is a good way to make sure all kids can enjoy Halloween.

KELLY: And for their parents, it might just make the night a little less scary.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL JACKSON SONG, “THRILLER”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kai McNamee
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
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