A few weeks ago, Hubby and I sat down to plot the course of Allergy Superheroes for 2016. It’s hard to believe we’ve been around for more than a year, and been “open” for almost a year. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and learned tons of things along the way.
One of our potentially contentious decisions was to make the allergens into villains. As we did market research, everywhere we turned we saw products with happy, smiling cartoons of the country’s top allergens. The prevailing trend seemed to be to depict allergens as goofy, friendly types.
I understand the idea of trying to remain non-threatening, and even to depict allergens in a positive light to minimize future backlash (in case a child outgrows an allergy.) But we just couldn’t get behind the “friendly” allergens.
Speaking for myself, I understand that nuts are food for other people. I know this in my head. But when I see a nut, I don’t see a smiling acorn. I see this:
Despite parents’ best efforts to portray food in a positive light, most kids with allergies develop an aversion to those allergens unless outgrown in toddlerhood. (I didn’t willingly eat eggs by themselves until college, despite outgrowing that allergy by age three.)
But even more important, we feel that cute allergens don’t treat food allergies with the respect and seriousness that they require.
Asking a peanut-allergic child to wear a smiling peanut creates the impression that peanuts are happy, friendly, and safe–not that they are a danger.
We aren’t trying to scare anyone with our villains. We’re going for cartoon bad guys, not terrifying real ones. What we DO want is for them to remind children and caregivers that specific allergens are not safe for each individual child.
We knew we were taking a risk by breaking the mold, but we still feel it was the right thing to do. We stand behind our villainous allergens (in fact, we keep a wary eye on them at all times.) Besides, villains fit perfectly with our theme. What’s a superhero without a nemesis, after all?