Trick-or-Treat: Options for Halloween

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Trick or Treat, Trick or Treat
Give me something good to eat.


I just learned that is the official phrase for trick-or-treating in the United States

Trick or Treat Halloween
Dame chavos no maní (Give me money, not peanuts)


This is what we use in Puerto Rico, and it is unique to Puerto Rico because no other country uses the term “chavos” to refer to money.

In Colombia, my husband tells me, he used to chant:

Triky-triky Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí (I want candies for me)


I’m sure that other countries have their own versions (please share your favorite Halloween chant in the comments section).

Whoever came up with “Dame chavos no maní” / “Give me money, not peanuts” was ahead of times. Nowadays we are becoming more conscious of allergies and anyone with a child in daycare or school knows that “peanuts” is a big NO-NO. I didn’t think much about allergies before several of my closest friends had to rush to the ER with their babies or toddlers because of food allergies. This Halloween we are joining the Teal Pumpkin Project in support of those who are allergic to foods and still want to enjoy the holiday by giving away non-candy options.

Here is more information on how to manage Halloween, Trick-or-Treating and Food Allergies



Halloween, Trick-or-Treating and Food Allergies

By Jessica Carley Badolato


By now just about everywhere we turn there are reminders that Halloween is approaching. There are haunted house advertisements, aisles in grocery stores dedicated to selling bags of candy, yards decorated with cobwebs and ghosts, pumpkins for sale, and photos in your Facebook and Instagram feeds of cute kids in pumpkin patches. I have fond childhood memories of carving pumpkins, creating costumes, loading my pillowcase with treats, and eating frozen candy for weeks. I loved Twix even then. Trick-or-Treat was always the highlight for me even as an adult handing out candy.

 Halloween Kit in an Elmo Costume

Last Halloween we had a newborn and 20 month old. In my postpartum haze, I did not put much thought into celebrating. I had costumes ready and I considered that good planning, although I could not convince our toddler who adores Elmo to dress as him. Seriously, does any toddler like wearing a costume with a hat?

I was exclusively nursing our baby and while we were shopping for trick-or-treat candy, I was so hungry that I grabbed what made me salivate and what I thought was a quasi-healthy option that others would enjoy too. Trying to make a Costco run as time efficient as possible, I grabbed a box of 64 sweet and salty peanut and chocolate granola bars. YUM! Little did I know then that our youngest would be severely allergic to three ingredients and many more foods. And it is likely that one of the little trick-or-treaters who came to our door was allergic to this treat as well. This year we need alternatives to ensure all children can participate.

 Halloween Child looking at a Pumpkin

Halloween is a fun and exciting time of year for children and adults. It is a holiday that traditionally focuses around candy and one that is an elevated risk for the 15 million people with food allergies. Food allergies are a growing public health concern. One in 13 children, roughly 6 million, have a food allergy and even a trace amount could cause a life-threatening reaction. While there are over 160 foods that can trigger an allergic reaction, the top 8 allergens (milk, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, egg, shellfish, and fish) are legally required to be listed on foods regulated by the FDA.

For millions of families including us, Halloween needs to be more than conveniently wrapped yummy deliciousness that melts in your mouth. I am not saying anyone should not have these candies; I am simply stating that the cases of food allergies are rapidly increasing and providing fun, safe non-food alternatives allows all trick-or-treaters, including those with diabetes and celiac disease, to participate in this tradition with their friends and family.

One of the ways we will celebrate this year is by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project by painting a pumpkin teal, the color of food allergy awareness, and hanging English and Spanish signs like these on our door to let trick-or-treaters know that we also have non-food items.

Teal Pumping Project

We will not be the house handing out dollar bills, but we will have non-food alternatives. If you are interested in offering a non-candy treat, here is a start:

  • glow sticks, necklaces, and bracelets
  • sidewalk chalk
  • vampire teeth
  • spider rings
  • sticky or bouncy eyeballs
  • stickers
  • pencils
  • *Play-Doh
  • *crayons


* Children very sensitive to gluten and soy may react to touching Play-Doh and Crayola products.

Please note: these items are just suggestions and you should carefully read the labels for age recommendations too. Although this list may not seem as exciting as sinking your teeth into a gooey Twix bar, a child who otherwise has to relinquish this candy to his parents will appreciate having something he can enjoy for at least a few days. And his parents will be happy and grateful for your thoughtfulness too.

If you are unfamiliar with reading an ingredient list, here is an example of what to look for:

Allergen label

This product is very well labeled and goes beyond what is required by the FDA, listing if any of the 8 major allergens in the US are included. Kirkland voluntarily provides additional information stating that this product is made on shared equipment, letting consumers know that it may contain traces of allergens. Many companies do not share this information. Kirkland shows this information in two locations on this product: the ingredient list itself and in a separate allergy the event you missed that chocolate covered almonds contain milk and almonds. :) However, you can be allergic to soy and not to dairy and tree nuts. Good job, Kirkland!

Treats do not have to be food. A treat, as defined by Google, is an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure. I consider it a treat to use the bathroom by myself or to get four consecutive hours of sleep. This Halloween consider having non-food treats. If you would like to show your support by participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project too, click here.

If you are interested in making treats for yourself or for a party that are free of the top 8 allergens, here are some helpful links:

Enjoy Life Halloween Recipes- free of 8 top food allergens

Some Allergy-Friendly Candies from Allergic Living

What are some ways you celebrate that include non-food items and/or foods free of common allergens?


Happy Halloween!


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Jessica Carley Badolato
Jessica Carley Badolato


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