Halloween is a fun time for almost everyone. People dress up in fun costumes and go door-to-door for candy. What is often overlooked are the allergens in candy. For kids with wheat, dairy, peanut, egg, or other allergies, Halloween and trick-or-treating can be reminders of what makes them different. Common candies given out are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey candy bars, and kit-kats, all of which contain major allergens.
Having personal experience with the top five most common food allergies, I know how disappointing Halloween can be. People on my street were always very sweet, and would have special treats I wasn’t allergic to set aside. Many people have started having separate bowls for “allergy-free” candy, like gummies. It has become the rising popularity of gluten-free and vegan diets, which may eliminate wheat, dairy, and egg products. Even with this, Halloween can still be rough for kids with allergies. What I would do to make trick-or-treating more enjoyable was to trade candies with whoever I was with. Piles of milk chocolate would slowly turn into mountains of gummies and jolly ranchers.
In TV shows and cartoons allergies are often portrayed as something geeky, something to laugh at. Allergies are no joke, and can have serious reactions, some that can cause death.
Around 15 million americans have allergies to some type of food. The most common allergies among american adolescents are wheat, peanuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and fish. Most food allergies can be outgrown, but recent studies show that it’s taking adolescents longer to outgrow them. The amount of children with food allergies increased 50 percent between 1979 and 2011. Every year, around 200,000 people make trips to the emergency room with life-threatening allergic reactions.
You can join the Teal Pumpkin Project in their mission is to make halloween fun and inclusive for everyone. By putting a teal pumpkin outside your door, you can let trick-or-treaters know that you have allergen-free treats available so kids don’t feel left out.
It can be emotionally stressful for kids to feel different from their peers and have to miss out on opportunities for fun, like Halloween, because of something they can’t control. Allergies are more common now than ever, and it’s not fair for millions of kids to have to miss out on a holiday. This halloween make an effort for those who can’t do the traditional trick-or-treating, and have treats, edible or not, set aside.
PHOTO BY ELENA REMEZ