The time for trick-or-treating (in some form, virus-permitting) is upon on. Whether you’re escorting little kids around town or stockpiling candy in anticipation of your doorbell ringing non-stop, there’s a new trend you might be curious about.

Since its inception in Tennessee a few years ago, the teal-colored pumpkin has been making appearances outside houses in U.S.

The presence of a teal pumpkin means the homeowner has non-food treats for those children who may have allergies.

The presence of a teal pumpkin on a doorstep means the homeowner has non-food treats for those children who may have allergies.

The goal is to promote inclusion for children who previously felt left out of this Halloween tradition. 

If it seems to you that everyone has a food allergy these days, you’re not too far off the mark. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011.

That translates to an estimated 32 million Americans living with food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. That’s one in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.

Why are food allergies increasing?

It is not yet known why allergies are increasing at such a rate, but some theories include decreased exposure to infections, delayed introduction of allergenic foods and even vitamin D deficiency. 

If you wish to participate in the teal pumpkin trend, here is a suggested list of non-food treats you can provide to children with allergies. 

  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

You can still pass out candy, too. Just make sure you keep the candy in a seperate bowl. 

What about the blue candy buckets?

Another trend you might notice is the blue candy bucket. Started by Alicia Plumer, the blue pumpkin represents people with autism. On her Facebook page, mom Alicia explained that her son BJ is an adult with autism who loves trick-or-treating.

“While he has the body of a 21-year-old, he loves Halloween,” she explained. “Please help us keep his spirit alive and happy.”

The mom then asked that when people see the blue bucket, to be compassionate and kind. “These precious people are not ‘too big’ to trick-or-treat,” she concluded.

You can pick up a blue pumpkin at most drug stores, or on Amazon.

Why do we trick-or-treat anyway?

Trick-or-treating as a tradition began in Britain and Ireland. The tradition of going house to house collecting food at Halloween goes back at least as far as the 16th century.

It was first recorded in North America in 1911, but became a tradition in the U.S. in the 1920s. These days the traditional “food” is candy, but that seems to be evolving.