We have lived without peanut butter in our home for the last three years. If you had known my partner and me three years and two months ago, you would have seen peanuts and peanut butter as a daily part of our lives. Peanut butter and butter sandwiches , peanut butter and jam sandwiches, peanut butter and bananas sandwiches, peanut butter and crackers or apples, peanut butter squares (or as my partner would argue, butterscotch squares), peanut M&M’s, Reese’s peanut butter cups, peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, thai food with, you guessed it- peanuts! Just writing about them makes me hungry.
Shortly after having my first, I remember being with some fellow moms/friends and they were talking about the idea of introducing peanuts to your toddler in a vehicle just outside the hospital; I thought this was the most paranoid idea and giggled to myself a little at the image of feeding my son a peanut butter sandwich in the emergency parking lot. I thought to myself, why bother being paranoid there is such a slight chance of a child being allergic.
A year or so later over Christmas holidays we flew out to see my brother in California. On our way there we had a lay-over, and since most air lines were no longer serving meals we picked up a meal to tie us over on the next flight. I went to a really cool Thai restaurant and got myself a delicious peanut-y stir fry. I had barely eaten all day and I was starving! After getting our family seated but before they safety exit spiel, I took out my delicious peanut-y stir fry and dug in. Now I know what you’re thinking, my son ended up having a reaction and we were forced to get off the plane and go to the hospital and I can assure you this is definitely NOT what happened. But the flight attendant got on the loud speaker and asked all passengers to please refrain from eating peanuts for the flight as there was a “little guy” with a severe peanut allergy on board. I finished chewing my mouthful and lidded my delicious peanut-y stir fry. I was a little disappointed and starving, if I had only known earlier I would have got something else to eat!
A month later I tried feeding my son a peanut butter cookie for the first time and he was not interested, a few days later I was able to get him to eat a pint size amount of peanut butter and no reaction! Hooray for us! Oh wait, reactions usually happen on the second exposure!?! The next day I slathered apple slices in peanut butter but he would only eat a miniscule bite! That’s when I realized the joke was on me. I spent the next few months in denial, saying “It could have been the apple… right???” Once diagnosed we began a purge of our home, threw out jam, ice cream, a food processer that I used to make our own peanut butter in, all things that could have been cross contaminated and anything that said “may contain traces of…” or “contains traces of…” or “contains…”
Which now brings me back to the three years later, or as I like to call it; now. One of our other peanut free families in our son’s class gave us a sample of this soy butter to try saying it was just like peanut butter. Now, we have tried almost every kind of soy nut, sunflower, blah blah blah butter you could think of and nothing has even come close to passing the test. I opened up one of the samples and dipped my pinky in it, “WOW, you need to try this!” He did the same and gave the same response. It smelled, tasted and even looked like peanut butter.
You could hear our youngest in the background parroting one of his first words, “Wow, Wow, WoW, WwwwooooowwwW” I grabbed the bread and jam and made my son’s sandwiches for lunch. We held our breath as our oldest, Mr. Anaphylaxis to one bite after another, hoping this wasn’t some cruel joke and his face would start swelling up because we had actually just given him peanut butter. But the only thing that happened was that he finished his whole sandwich and asked for a drink. WOW.
Not the funny thing in all this (and I’m not really one to promote brands of anything via blog) is the name of this stuff, Wow Butter. That’s right! So the aftertaste gives off a very slight hint of soy, but we had never tasted something so close! We got online as fast as we could and looked it up to see where we could find more. It took a half day to track it down, and when I finally found it, I bought 4 jars.
Now for the scary part: As much as we were in awe of this stuff, a knot formed in our stomachs… how are our teachers supposed to know the difference between a peanut butter and Wow butter sandwich. Obviously a teacher wouldn’t question the sandwiches we have labelled and sent with our son, but what about non-allergic children? We thought they should maybe make it green or blue, but then you look right on the jar’s lid and it says to label all sandwiches made with wow butter and the website encourages parents to send information from their website to their school. The other scary part: is our son supposed to know the difference? If it smells, looks and taste like peanut butter, is there a risk that he will get confused? It’s amazing how something that has been created to help us also forces us to adjust our family rules for the sake of risk reduction.
We have decided that this fear of potential mix-ups will not keep us from recommending Wow Butter to others, but we will ask kindly that if you do find a use for Wow Butter; please oh please label your children’s sandwiches every time. If someone has to ask please don’t take it personally because it’s really that amazing.
Check it out: http://www.soybutter.com/
P.S. Did you know that hand sanitizer does not get rid of peanut residue?