This article was originally published in October 2015
This weekend I tested out these snazzy buttons on my nephew who has multiple food allergies. They're produced by Food Allergies and Me, a company run by parents of 2 allergic children. They sell buttons and magnets indicating which allergens to avoid through text and illustrations which make them fun for kids. The illustrations correspond with the allergen as a helpful visual cue or reminder. 16 different pins are available ($4.99 USD each) and they are currently shipping within the US (I'm hoping soon to Canada!). My personal favorite is the No Shellfish button - how cute is that?
Reading through the About Us section of the Food Allergies and Me website, their story really struck a chord with me. The reason being that it's the same story my parents, or any parents of babies with food allergies, would tell. Their baby constantly had a rash and eventually they were led to allergy testing. It was initially overwhelming and they had a ton of questions but they learned to adapt. Now the Ulinski's are taking action to improve their kids' experiences growing up with food allergies, and to promote understanding and tolerance. This is a mission I strongly support.
It seems that in the early 90's someone else had this idea, as you can see in the image below. My mom had me wear this button a handful of times much to my chagrin. It was a great effort on my mom's part, but it was not exactly kid-friendly. And it was completely non-descriptive. In the early 90's I would hazard to guess that 95% of people didn't even understand what this button was trying to say. But at the time this is what was available and we had to make do. So it was a valiant effort that just didn't connect; like using an umbrella with holes in it. Even my mom can look back at it and see the humor.
The Food Allergies and Me buttons do not feature any red stop signs, but rather an adorable cast of characters that includes a squirrel (no nuts), a sesame seed, a clam, and many others. Any kid with an appreciation for Shopkins will love 'em. My boyfriend and I tested them out on our nephew and he had an interesting and positive reaction.
At first he thought, sure let's try it out...
Then he was confused...
We explained in toddler terms what we had bedazzled his shirt with. He understood. "Allergies," he said. He knows there are certain things he can and cannot eat.
And then he climbed on the chair and insisted I photograph his sock before he escaped to go play.
The test was a success - he approved! They would be great pinned to a jacket or shirt, or even to a backpack. The magnets would be handy to stick to the front of a desk or chalk board in school. At home the magnets would make a nice reminder if you have babysitters or family members caring for your kids, as it takes some time to get used to avoiding certain allergens.
Have you tried this product or anything similar? Let me know in the comments section!
Available for purchase at http://foodallergiesandme.co/