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Decorated Halloween cupcake

Fun-Sized Season is No Fun for Peanut Allergic Kids

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It’s not too early to start thinking about Halloween and Fall harvest parties. How do I know this? Because the stores told me. The moment the first bell rang on the first day of school, clerks everywhere sprang into action. Out with the lunch boxes and in with the treat buckets! If you don’t have your costumes chosen or created by now, you might as well start cutting eye holes in your Egyptian cotton sheets. Show me your treat sack. Here’s a rock.

Because it’s the season of Fun Sized candies, I start getting nervous. Walking down aisles of candies, candies, and candies confirms we are a country deeply in love with our peanuts. I won’t mention brand names, but the deluge of Futterbingers, Nickers, and Peese’s Reanutbutter Goblets scream how popular dusty little legumes can be—especially when coated in chocolate. Who doesn’t like the tiny but mighty peanut?

Those of us who have peanut-allergic kids.

We are a minority. I don’t demand all parents and schools bow to my boys’ unfortunate allergy with sweeping bans. The responsibility for their safety lies in our policing foods and their environments. Putting the burden on everyone else is unfair for several reasons. Peanuts are a healthy, delicious, and inexpensive food choice for many families. Sometimes, a PB&J is all a kid wants to eat. I get that. I don’t begrudge anyone their right to gobble gobs of pulverized nut. But mindfulness is awesome. Sometimes, it seems like parents of peanut allergic kids are tiresome scolds who think their kids are dainty snowflakes. Peanuts are the laser beam aimed squarely at their frilly, fragile hearts.

Well, they are.

I don’t want to control what you put in your kid’s lunchbox, but may I humbly ask for a tiny favor?

Because I am specifically thinking of Halloween and looming Fall harvest parties, could you skip the peanuts when it’s time to drop wrapped goodies into treat sacks or on festive fall dessert tables? Or, at least, verbally offer an alternative when your doorbell goes ding-dong? When you drop a Futterbinger in a peanut-allergic kid’s bag, you might as well be giving him that proverbial rock. Perhaps Charlie Brown really didn’t receive a bag full of rocks? Maybe it was a metaphor for how he wouldn’t be able to eat anything in his haul. (aside: Bit O’ Honeys are just as evil, but for different reasons)

I promise, all kids will be just as happy to get non-peanut treats. No kid ever pawed through their treat buckets bemoaning having too many chocolate bars, fruity candies, tacky tattoos, or Dracula teeth. Nobody is going to egg your house because you didn’t give them a Nickers bar.

Thank you for looking at the candy aisle with through the eyes of a peanut allergic kid this season.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson September 10, 2013

    A great reminder, Gretchen. I’m always cognizant for class parties but admittedly don’t pay much attention when I buy those party packs.

    It’s also helpful when kids are at the door trick or treating and nicely mention they have a peanut allergy (this happens quite a bit). I’m always happy to oblige!

  • comment avatar Jenn C. September 10, 2013

    I don’t feel it is right of me to ask people who are kind enough to give my children candy at Halloween to change what they are buying for gifts/treats or ask them to get more candy than they normally would to cover my needs. My kids never look at candy the night of Halloween, after they are asleep I comb the candy to pull out anything I don’t want my children to have or things my one child cant eat because she too is allergic to peanuts. The next day my kids see the candy in the bowls for them, most of the time they are cheering because they got the candy they wanted or liked the most. As far as schools are concerned I believe most schools ask people to hold off of on the candy and treats because of so many allergy’s in the class rooms. I know for a long time my nephew had to eat in the principals office became a child in his class had a sever peanut allergy, he has medical issues and PB was one of the foods he could eat that didn’t make him sickly afterwards. It is hard to decide what is right for you and your family and how much we need to expect from strangers and other people regarding our child’s allergy.

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