Saturday, October 22, 2016

Still Life with Robin: What's the Deal with Teal?

Image by FARE
by Peggy Robin

I want to publicize –and at the same time criticize—the teal pumpkin campaign. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful program, a true boon to the millions of American with serious food allergies, but it could definitely be improved upon. Here’s the concept in a nutshell (I won’t make a pumpkin-shell pun here – though I could have!):

One out of thirteen* kids have some sort of food allergy serious enough to require complete avoidance of the allergy triggering food. Trick-or-treating is a scary thing for these kids and their parents. Children love to get treats, but especially when young and unaware, they may just rip into something they’re given, not realizing that it could put them into anaphylactic shock. Even when parents do their best to screen candies, it may be difficult to root out all the potentially harmful offerings. Not everything is well marked for its ingredients. To help to make trick-or-treating a fun, relaxing time, those who offer the treats can carefully pre-screen what they are handing out. And those who do this can mark their houses as safe houses, places that will offer an allergic child choices from a guaranteed nut-free bowl. The bowl could contain non-candy items such as stickers, temporary tattoos, little toys, or guaranteed nut-free candies, or (gasp!) healthy treats, such as packets of raisins or a fresh clementine. The way you signal your participation in the allergy safe trick-or-treat campaign is by putting out a pumpkin painted teal.

All the details are here:

This is a great thing, and I’m all for it. Just not 100 percent for the way it’s put into practice. The stumbling block is that color—teal?! Who chose that one? It’s not exactly a household hue. It’s not even a secondary color, much less a primary one. I’m not even sure that the majority of elementary school aged kids even know what color teal is! I'm not sure myself. Wikepedia defines it as a dark blue-green – not easily seen at night. The color shown on the Teal Pumpkin Project looks to me more like turquoise or aquamarine – it’s bright, almost sea-green. Which is it?

On top of that, it’s not a paint color you can find when you run to the drugstore to pick up a set of poster-paints to paint your pumpkin. You’re either going to have to try to mix it yourself – try blue and green and hope it comes out not too green and not too blue! – or you’ll need to do what one listserv member has already done and see if you can borrow some teal paint from a neighbor who has already solved this problem -- just enough to cover one pumpkin.

This was such an easily avoidable thing! How simple it would have been to create a “White Pumpkin Project.” White would have been easy to spot at a distance. Everyone has white paint. White would have been my first choice to signify an allergy safe house. And then there’s green. Green means, “Go” or “OK” or “Healthy Growing Things.” A green pumpkin would be easy to teach kids to recognize. Make it a fluorescent green if you want it to stand out at night.

It’s too late now to change the color. But maybe if the creators of the Teal Pumpkin Campaign get enough feedback from color critics, maybe they’ll switch to white or green in time for next year’s Safe Trick or Treat campaign.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to mix up some blue and green paint!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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