Friday, August 8, 2008

Shopping with Peanut Allergies - Don't Accept the Coupons

Do you ever wonder who does the marketing things at the supermarket. The ones where you get coupons at the end of your transaction with your receipt. These coupons are supposed to be coordinated with your club card account so you get discounts on products you use.

I went to the market today to get things for our vacation next week. We are going camping for one night and then heading down to visit Grandma and Grampoo (Natalie named him Grampoo when she first learned to talk, and it just seems to fit) for 3 days. Last time we went down to visit we made the unfortunate discovery that Conor is severely severely allergic to cats, and can not set foot in the Grandparents house where 2 cats now reside. I can not wait to discover what else he is severely allergic to this time.

Anyways we live in a small town. If we go over a hill for about 7 miles, you are in a very big town, but I am way too lazy to go over the hill just to go to a grocery store. So I go to our local grocery store which is part of a big chain, but truly one of the worst grocery stores ever. Some days they have certain products, other days they don't. Different weeks, different products are in different places in the store. It is kind of like playing hide and seek with your groceries every time you go in. Some weeks there is no chicken, some weeks no beef, some weeks both, but you just never know. It is kind of exciting, like playing the lottery each time you enter the store. Also they have 3 express lanes, but only seem to open them when the store is empty...

Anyways, so I was having a good day at the local chain grocery store. I found most of the things I needed in record time, and it was empty so tons of registers were open. As I was finished checking out, the woman at the register handed me a coupon even before she gave me the receipt. She looked down slowly and said "Oh look, here is a coupon for you....Wow, you can get buy one get one free on Planters Peanuts Products." She tried to hand me the coupon and I just started laughing. Where in the world did this supermarket chain, with their electronic club card get the idea that I would want a coupon for PEANUTS!! I have not purchased peanuts/nuts or any product even made in a facility with peanuts/nuts in over 2 years. Could this all be a big conspiracy on the part of Mr. Peanut to make me go crazy? Maybe they should donate all the money they spend trying to market research their customers to food allergy research.

The checker looked at me baffled, as I probably not so nicely refused the really great coupon. I told her she could keep it, but I sure hope she does not come near our house with her 2 for 1 peanut products.

Suddenly driving 7 miles over a windy hill does not seem so bad..

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Come into the club - Food Allergy Wristbands

So lets say little Johnny came to you asking for a medical alert tattoo, and you stopped him in his tracks. What other options are there out there for temporary medical alert bracelets. Just when I thought I had covered all the options, I discovered yet another one...the plastic wristband.

That's right, the plastic wristbands you used to get when you entered a night club back in the day, or the ones you get when you go into a concert that say you are old enough to drink. (Trust me, I am...) Or even the ones you get sometimes when you get checked into the hospital.

Little did I know that plastic wristbands come in many different shapes, sizes and materials. They can be black, white or red, have photos or crazy designs. They can even say Allergic to Nuts, Do Not Feed, or you can customize them yourself. These amazing products even come in a material called tyvek.

Ok, I know I have now piqued your curiosity. What in the world is tyvek you ask.......well let me tell you.

According to Wikipedia

Tyvek (TIE-veck) is a brand of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers, a synthetic material; the name is a registered trademark of the DuPont Company. The material is very strong; it is difficult to tear but can easily be cut with scissors or any other sharp object. Water vapor can pass through Tyvek, but not liquid water, so the material lends itself to a variety of applications: medical packaging, envelopes, car covers, air and water intrusion barriers (housewrap) under house siding, labels, wristbands, mycology, and graphics. Tyvek is sometimes erroneously referred to as "Tyvex."

Aren't you glad you asked?

Ok, enough of my diversion into random knowledge. Here were some of my favorite wristbands, and where you can find them.

First there are the yellow owl Do Not Feed wristbands.

They are bright, cheerful and have that cute little owl on them.

Then of course there are the bright red allergy alert bracelets, that are not quite as cute, but certainly get the message across.

This website also has the option of the custom plastic wristbands where you can write whatever you want to attach to your child's wrist. Your imagination is the limit.
So, next time you want to inform anyone that your child is a VIP in the food allergy club, try out these cool plastic wristbands.

Monday, August 4, 2008

When a Peanut Allergic to Peanuts is a Filbert

So yesterday, I popped in to one of these really trendy and expensive baby and little kids stores. You know the ones I am talking about. The stores that sell cashmere baby sock to go with the matching cashmere sweater that also goes with the matching cashmere hat, and the matching cashmere baby blanket. These are the stores that sell one sock for $25, and give you a deal of the pair for $40.

As I walked around this oh so trendy,oh so chic store wondering what sort of dry cleaning bills one would have for their beautiful cashmere outfit, I saw this shirt.

I walked over to it, wondering if Mr. Peanut had even taken over posh and trendy children's clothes. On closer inspection, I realized the scary peanut had a little speech bubble thing that said "I'm allergic to peanuts". At first I found this confusing....Is a peanut saying he is allergic to peanuts. Then he would be allergic to himself, and that would make things awfully difficult. I hope he is not contact sensitive.

After a few minutes of thoughtful contemplation, I realized that the shirt is probably meant to tell people that the wearer is allergic to peanuts. It would probably be more effective to have a big red circle and line through the peanut. Maybe the shirt is trying to make a social commentary about peanuts and our society.

I figured I would delve into this further. I looked at the label and discovered that the shirt was made by the cool and trendy fashion designer Paul Frank. That is right, Paul Frank, famous designer of that ever endearing icon

Julius the Monkey

I began my search with Wikipedia.

Paul Frank is so famous and trendy that he is of course featured in Wikipedia:

"A few years later, Frank formed Paul Frank Industries in order to keep up with the demand for his products. He worked at another job during the day, but sewed and sold his products during his spare time. Paul Frank Industries are currently in Costa Mesa, California. The company's stores are also popular, with domestic locations in Southern California, San Francisco, New York City, Dallas (now closed), Las Vegas and Chicago. International locations include: London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Athens, Seoul, Bangkok, and a group in Japan. Future locations include Doha, Qatar and Dubai, United Arab Emirates[1].
Frank also collaborated with many bands including Bad Religion, Every Time I Die, Radiohead, The Vandals, Alkaline Trio, Atreyu, Tool, Gorilla Biscuits, The Aquabats, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Other musical collaborations include the Coachella festival, Lollapalooza, and Los Angeles radio station KROQ.
Besides co-branding and licensing affiliations with bands, Frank has collaborated with other artists and companies, including Mattel, Oscar Mayer, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Wahoo's Fish Taco, SHAG, John Deere, Nirve Bicycles, Obey Giant, ProKeds shoes, Mark Ryden, Thomas Campbell, Hello Kitty, and Lego.[2]"

This was interesting, and further confirmed that Paul Frank was in fact very very trendy, and liked to think oh himself as very very artsy.

I continued my internet research only to discover that the peanut allergy t-shirt was called "The Filbert". This piqued my curiosity, since why was a t-shirt with a peanut, talking about peanut allergies was called "The Filbert". I again consulted my knowledgeable researched Wikipedia,

"Filbert can mean the following:
Corylus maxima, a species of hazel
Filbert, West Virginia
A type of artists' paintbrush with an elongated flat bristle with a rounded or circular tip
Filburt, a character of the TV show Rocko's Modern Life
Slang: a lunatic; an individual wholly unhinged; predominant neurotic tendencies (e.g., "a nut"). "

I don't know if this cleared things up for me, made me more confused. I don't think he would name a shirt about peanut allergies a hazelnut. the much maligned filbert nut

I hope he is not naming the shirt after a town in West Virginia.

Perhaps the shirt is named for his favorite type of paint brush,

but the artwork is really not all that exciting.

The TV show Rocko's Modern Life is, an animated cartoon with a character of a turtle named Filbert. I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with peanut allergies.

The only option left was one I was not so happy with since the slang for filbert is a crazy person or a "nut". I am not sure how I feel about a t-shirt with a peanut saying he is allergic to peanuts being called with a name that is the slang for a crazy person. Perhaps this cool and trendy company was just trying to be ironic while raising awareness for peanut allergies, perhaps I just have way too much time on my hands, perhaps I am a bit paranoid, but perhaps this t- shirt is not the great advocate for peanut allergies I first thought it was when I saw it.

When I originally started writing this post, I planned for it to be about how peanut allergies are now maybe cool and trendy since this cool and trendy fashion designer has put the issue on one of his kids t-shirts. Maybe it was becoming more mainstream, and more understood by the great cool and trendy public out there.

Now I am not so sure.....

Running away from nuts.

We had a really good and exciting weekend. Mick and I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon on Sunday. Before you think I am one of these great fast running people, and might be impressed, don't be. Mick is really fast. I am not. In fact, I am kind of chubby, and I don't even run, I waddle. And then I also walk alot. so maybe I jaddle, or perhaps woggle. But really, before I joined this training group to run a marathon last year I could not even run a mile, at the end I could woggle 26.2. If I can do it anyone can.

Before any big race there is an expo where you need to go and pick up your bibs, timing chips, etc. There are also tons of people selling anything you can think of related to running, and lots of free samples. Initially I thought it would be a great idea to take everyone on Sat to the expo, and let them explore around with us. Conor had a Dr. appointment with the allergist on Friday, so there was no way I could make it then when I had someone to watch the young folk. On Wed I got a call from the allergist that Conor's appointment had been cancelled, as our Dr could not be there and I needed to reschedule. Although this was kind of annoying, I was happy that instead I could go to the expo myself without trying to keep track of three very curious children in a large crowd.

So I go up to San Francisco Friday afternoon, and head into the expo all ready to pick up Mick and my bibs and check it out. As I walked in the entrance I smelled a horrible, rancid evil smell. I looked around wondering why no one else was concerned and running for the doors. Then I saw what was causing the smell. At the side of the pavilion was a giant stand handing out hundreds and hundreds of samples of freshly roasted peanut butter. There was peanut butter everywhere, in peoples hands, in little plastic cups all over the floor, on little plastic spoons littered everywhere. Then, to add insult to injury there was another table by the exit with a giant bowl of peanuts in their shell to be taken and shelled at any ones leisure as they were perusing the expo.

I was so relieved that I had not brought Conor with to this peanut ridden event. I thought back to the allergist's phone call canceling his appointment and letting me go alone, and wondered just for a second if she knew something I did not. Perhaps it was divine intervention, perhaps good luck, but it did remind me of something - runners love their nuts.

One cool thing I did discover was something that could be used for an epi-pen carrier. It is called the spibelt.
Apparently it fits an mp3 player, keys, cell, etc and it does not bounce. The SPIbelt does not bounce, ride or shift while running or doing other activities They already market to the diabetic market ( wow, a bit of a pun) SPIbelt is a proud supporter of, the national team of fearless triathletes with Type I. Their Black belt with the brilliant orange zipper contributes $1 to the organization.

I spoke with the representative at the expo (who thankfully was no where near the peanut butter tent) and she said they have been looking into the epi-pen market, and may expand there soon. They also make the belts in children's sizes also and if anyone is interested in the kids ones just call or email. I bought one to test it out, but have not really had the chance yet. I am hoping maybe Mick will wear it also. I will keep everyone updated.....

So, it turned out to be a great weekend. Mick and I did our personal best in a half marathon, no one got hurt, and I did not throw up. A success all around.