Peanut Butter Smooshy Face


There were about 40 kids sitting mask to fairy wing on the floor in front of the magician.  He asked them to shout out ideas for the magic words.





All good ideas but he insisted that his magic words were better, more special, more serious…

“Peanut butter smooshy face!!”

The children squealed with laughter.  I, as the host of our annual top 8 allergen-free Halloween costume party, squirmed in my seat.  He had no idea just how serious those magic words were to about 10 of the children in his audience who live with peanut allergy.

I had prepared all of the families who were invited to the party.  I asked them not to bring any outside food or candy so that I could be sure that the party was safe for everyone.  I had prepared top 8 allergen-free food (that means there is no milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish or shellfish) for about 100 people.  I made Tinkyada® brown rice shells with homemade marinara sauce, 120 delicious meatballs, salad, little frosted pumpkin Cherrybrook Kitchen® chocolate cupcakes.  (I am happy to share any of these recipes if you are interested!) I had not, however, prepped the magician.  Honestly, who’d have thought?

I had hoped he was going to use that set of magic words for only one trick but instead “Peanut Butter Smooshy Face” served as the magic words for the remainder of the show.  I looked at my good friend who has a son with peanut allergy and we could read the horror on each other’s face.  The longer we looked at each other though the less we could hold back the series of nervous giggles that followed.  Every 20 seconds the kids were yelling, “Peanut Butter Smooshy Face!”  How could this be happening?  Out of all the words in the English vernacular, he had to choose the words, peanut butter?  I catch the eyes of a few of the other disguised food allergy mothers and offer my best vampiress apology.  I know they accept because they are as overwhelmed with nervous laughter as I am.

I looked at the young audience to study the facial expressions and mouth movements of the children with peanut allergy only to find them as happy as everyone else when they screamed the magic words through wide smiles.  I considered wading through the crowd of children in my gigantic ring skirt to ask the magician to stop using those magic words but thought that the distraction would be too great for this gaggle of 5 year-olds, so I didn’t.  Instead I sat there thinking about why everything has to do with food when suddenly the magician pulled out a fake egg for his next trick prop.  An egg!!  I started thinking his next trick was going to be making shellfish appear out of thin air!

Regardless of the magic words and the trick egg, he held those kids’ attention for 45 solid minutes and the children’s laughter was infectious.  By the time he was done, everyone’s nervous laughter was replaced by genuine laughter and happiness.  The real magic of the evening had nothing to do with the magic words he chose but, instead, with the fact that, as nutty as this Halloween party got, there was not a single nut to be found.

Hope your Halloween was a fun and safe one!




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18 Responses to Peanut Butter Smooshy Face

  1. Marisa Nachman says:

    Magic words made my stomach twist!

  2. Lynn says:

    I’m looking forward to following your blog, and can very much relate to this. It also reminds me that I hesitated to buy my son a playfood set, thinking it would be sad for him to see all of the foods he was allergic to. After I gave in, we were playing one day, and he made himself an egg. I said: “remember, you can’t eat eggs; you’re allergic to them!”. To which my 3 year old calmly replied “mama, I’m not allergic to PRETEND eggs.”. :D

    • Sarah says:

      I remember having the very same type of experience! I actually started to hide all of the foods in the plastic set that he couldn’t eat. As I was doing that I realized that I was putting away more than I was keeping! One day he found this hidden bag of plastic allergens and asked me why I put all of these foods in a baggie. I told him it was because he was allergic to them so I didn’t think he wanted to play with them. To which he replied, “Of course I do. Then there will be so much more food for me to cook with!” I mean, duh, mom :)

  3. Diana says:

    Thanks for sharing that story. It’s strange how that word makes us cringe. My son has a life-threatening peanut allergy and I would have been mortified, as well. But as I read the story, I wondered why? It’s just a word. Yes, the food is bad for our kids but not the word. Strange how just the word sets us off. Very ironic that he picked two food allergens to focus on his show…..I laughed out loud about you wondering if he’d make shellfish appear out of thin air. Glad it turned out to be a successful party.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you, Diana! The fact that you laughed out loud makes me very, very happy! I actually told my husband that I really hoped that that part would make people laugh. You’re right, the words are not the food but sometimes they feel really close. I often try to remind myself it is not the food that is “bad” but the immune system that responds to it like it is “bad”. I hope you keep reading and commenting!

  4. Bridget Bond says:

    It is so fantastic when the kids prove that they are not feeling the weight of their food allergies in every ounce of their life like we, as parents, fear they will. I so was waiting for at least one little head to turn towards us parents to see if they should be afraid or move away from the group. Not a one worried. Yay for them and yay for us :)

  5. susan says:

    sweet sarah.
    thank you for this blog. our courageous 6 year old girl was diagnosed at 12 months with life threatening food allergies to 5 out of the big 8, as well as asthma and severe ecxema. i cried even harder when i got to your quote on “first post” about this lonely side of the table. yes–the non-allergic side of the world will never understand the feeling of my anxiety or the fatigue from the constant viligence, but it is so empowering to know that moms like you are also going above and beyond the extra mile, baking 100′s of cupcakes or doing whatever it takes to make this world both fun and safe for our babies.
    take good care and keep up the posts!

    • Sarah says:

      Well Susan, your comment made me cry. That is exactly why I want to do this. I don’t want us to feel so lonely. I would just love to build a community here so that we can all feel a little less of that. Sounds like your 6 year old is pretty lucky to have you as her momma. Thank you for reading and keep in touch.

  6. YADIRA WOOD says:

    That word peanut sure makes me react like that as well!!!! I just found your blog and will bookmark to continue to follow it. Both of my sons have food allergies both diagnosed at 3-4 months old. With my first, I was eating anything while nursing as I have no food allergies myself. He developed horrible eczema and blood in the stool and was not gaining weight. He only tests positive for peanuts, soy and wheat, but when he eats dairy, he gets diarrhea and malabsorption as well as eczema (we did a trial at 18 months and 2 years). His GI decided to keep him off of the top 8 allergens and retry later as he was having deficiencies from the damage. With my now 4 month old, I went on a strict hypoallergenic diet while nursing him, yet he still developed both eczema and blood in stool. Doctors think possibly the meat in my diet, but they were not sure. He is now on Neocate formula, much like his 3 year old brother was. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to educate others as well as lets us see that more people than we think are dealing with the same.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you so much for reading. I’m glad that you stumbled upon my blog! The discovery phase is so hard. I’ll never forget that eczema…it is so hard to watch them so uncomfortable. I hope that the Neocate will help to clear things up. Take care and hope you continue to read!

  7. Chris says:

    Those “magic words” were so ludicrous that we had to laugh! Sarah, the party was a fabulous success and a wonderful, safe celebration of a holiday that now always makes me shudder with fear (and not from the costumes or any hauntings!). Thanks for telling it as it is, with such humor and heart!

    • Sarah says:

      Chris, You’re welcome. I am so happy that you had fun at the party despite the “magic words”. I was afraid you were never going to come to another Halloween party after that! Next year, maybe we’ll just get a mime for the entertainment! Take care!

  8. d l j says:

    I just found your blog and was looking at previous posts. I don’t suffer from food allergies (that I know of), but am quite allergic to medical contrast media. (Waiting for the other shoe to drop someday for a reaction to dietary iodine.)

    This might sound dumb, but I wasn’t aware of the “top 8″ allergenic foods. I have an asthmatic brother who is wildly allergic to lots of things (citrus, tomatoes, strawberries, eggs & dairy when he was younger, animal dander, and almost anything airborne) and a good friend who is allergic to all poultry and poultry products(eggs, feathers), nuts of any sort, and beans/soy. I’ve got extended relatives allergic to mushrooms, onions, raw garlic & tomatoes. My mother has gone mainly vegetarian for health reasons, is currently on a gluten elimination diet, and also avoids dairy. And we also have a bunch of men in the family who are insistent on having their huge hunk of meat and heavy starches.

    I have fits when cooking for any of the above. (Heaven forbid having them all together for a meal!!!) Do you have any suggestions for cooking for a large crowd of people with multiple food allergies? How do you cook for major holidays and where do you find recipes?

    • Sarah says:

      It doesn’t sound dumb at all that you weren’t aware of the top 8. Wow, trying to cook for that group all at once could definitely be a challenge. Most of the recipes that I use I find on-line and they are recipes that have been changed from the original form by swapping out allergenic foods and substituting ingredients that are safe for us… which means a lot of trial and even more error! I love my meatball recipe (on the blog) for a big group of people, I can never make enough of them. You would have to substitute ingredients – ie onions and garlic because of allergies. But play with it, maybe use green peppers instead if those are safe. Or maybe you could serve steak? Is turkey safe for everyone? Or a pork tenderloin? If you can do potatoes, you could cut slice them and bake them in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Same with carrots or zucchini. And a big salad? For desserts I usually refer to Cybele Pascal. Geez, I’m hungry and just might make this for dinner tonight! Thanks for the ideas! I will definitely try to post more recipes. The most important things that you must do when cooking for people with food allergies are knowing exactly what they are allergic to, knowing how to properly read all labels, providing full disclosure of ingredients in the food you have prepared and avoiding all cross contamination with potentially allergenic foods in the kitchen. It is wonderful that you are willing to accommodate everyone. Not an easy thing to do!
      Good luck! Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to pass this link on to your friends and family members with food allergies!
      Have a great day!

  9. Anna says:

    I would love the cupcake recipe! We deal w/ allergies here too in 2 of my 5…now dairy, nuts, soy, wheat, corn, egg, tomato or beef!

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