Spooked by a Hidden Allergen

Last updated: March 2023

If you've read any of my previous articles, you'll know I've had my fair share of allergic reactions to food. They mostly come from me not thinking to ask about something before eating it and sometimes cross-contamination.

Sometimes food allergens can be hidden

This particular instance is one where I didn't think to ask because I would've never guessed this food was filled with peanut butter. I couldn't see or smell any trace of peanuts and just assumed it was just a pretzel with a different shape. That's where I was wrong.

Snacking at a house party

This allergic reaction happened at a party in high school. One of the students I did theater with hosted a party at his house for the holidays. While I wasn't the most outgoing kid, I still tried to hang out with friends when I had free time from studying, doing theater, and other activities.

I'm a huge lover of snacks and food, and aside from having fun with friends, eating is something that I always look forward to at parties. There was a big spread of snacks and food, so I dove right in. Unfortunately, my excitement got the best of me, as I wasn't as cautious as I should have been.

Most of my food allergens are obvious

As far as peanut or peanut butter snacks are concerned, I usually avoid them quite easily. I'm also allergic to chocolate, so there is no risk of me picking up any peanutty sweets.

As far as the savory peanut snacks go, those are easy to avoid too. I stay away from most trail mix-type snacks because most of those have some type of nut in them. Peanut butter crackers are also obvious to avoid because the peanut butter is visibly sandwiched between 2 crackers. I never had an issue until I encountered this peanut butter stuffed pretzel at a party.

Encountering sneaky peanut butter

So, there was a wide array of snacks out on the table. I'm usually not crazy about pretzels, but I saw a bowl of them at the table and grabbed one. These pretzels weren't shaped like regular pretzels but looked like small pillows made of pretzels. I just assumed that they were pretzel bites meant to be dipped in something, but I quickly learned that this wasn't the case.

Acting quickly to prevent severe symptoms

I bit into it, and lo and behold, it was stuffed with peanut butter. I went into the bathroom, spit it out into a tissue, and rinsed my mouth out. After that, I asked for an allergy pill, and low-key asked a friend if she would take me home. After getting home, I threw up, took another allergy pill, and drank cold liquids while I waited for the throat and mouth swelling and discomfort to pass. While it did eventually pass, it was really scary.

Scared by this allergic reaction

Until then, I had no memory of the taste or texture of peanut butter, and I was terrified that I would have to go to the hospital or that I was in danger. As I mentioned, after some discomfort, I was fine the next day; it was just a scary experience. That was one of the sneakiest allergen-laden foods I've had the misfortune of experiencing.

Growing up, my family wasn't keen on crunchy salty snacks, so this was my first (and last) time experiencing these peanut butter stuffed pretzels. I didn't even think to ask the host about them because I didn't even know they existed. It just looked like a regular pretzel to me.

My experience shows that when you haven't had a specific food before, even something you think you've had, you're better off asking just in case.

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