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Kids and Allergies: Peanut-free treats aplenty at Panhandle Premium

Submitted by on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 No Comment

I ran across Panhandle Premium two years ago during a particularly bad allergy spate.

Big Guy had just been diagnosed allergic to garlic, thus eliminating many favorite foods. He definitely mourned the loss. I eventually learned to make garlic-free marinara, taco and enchilada sauce, but with the exception of pizza and spaghetti, he’s never trusted the rest again.

And M&Ms or Skittles were the favorite bribes — er, reward for a job well done — at his preschool for everything from going to the potty to helping clean up. Since even plain M&Ms carry peanut contamination warnings, that was out.

On the advice of his allergist, we were avoiding dye — Red 40 and Yellow 5 in particular — to see if it eased his asthma symptoms. It did, but that left him the only kid at school who couldn’t be “rewarded.” Plus he’d seem the other kids’ giddy euphoria over the candy for long enough that it bugged him. “Mommy, why can’t you find me some Nim and Nims?” he asked.

I couldn’t back down from a challenge like that.

I searched until I landed on Smarties, M&Ms’ dye-free British cousin. Damn. I have to fly to London. I then located a peanut-free Nestle plant in North America — Canada. Damn. I have to drive to Vancouver.

I was relieved, but my travel agent was sad, when I finally stumbled across Panhandle Premium, a Washington State company that carries the fulls Nestle peanut-free line — Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Aero and Kit Kat.

A word about Kit Kat; The last American-made ones I bought did not carry a peanut warning, but after last week’s adventures with Kellogg, I’m a little more skeptical that a product surrounded by so many nut-laden counterparts is going to emerge uncontaminated.

I usually order the 48 pack of Smarties for $53. There’s also a 24-pack for $31, but I usually prefer to pay shipping once and get it over with. The shipping’s not unreasonable — $12.95 for a pretty weighty package — but keep in mind that I live in California. Your rates could be higher if you live farther from Washington State.

Besides, what choice do I really have other than to pay? The boy loves his Nim and Nims — even if they’re dye-free Canadian Smarties.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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