Food Allergy 101: Cutting the apostrophe T

What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...

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BLOG POST #152 —  Snip.



I'm sitting at the coffee shop waiting for Mr. A., my allergy, to arrive for our weekly meeting. 

He's late, course, but that's OK. I have work to do anyway. Holding a pair of scissors, I'm turning the word "Can't" into the word "Can".


About 30 strips of paper sit on the table in front of me. Each strip contains the word, "Can't".

I pick up a Can't.

Snip off the apostrophe T.

I put down a Can.

Can't. Snip. Can.

Can't. Snip. Can.

Can't. Snip. Can.

When Mr. A. finally arrives, he is holding a tray of unsafe foods. 

"These chocolate bars are delicious," he says holding one in the air. "Want a bite?"

I shake my head. "Nope. I can't eat those," I say. "But I can eat these, and they're delicious too."

I grab an Enjoy Life Cocoa Loco snack bar from my tray and take a bite. 

He ignores my response. A few minutes later, he grabs a chip from his tray and offers it to me.


"Nope. I can't have that chip," I say. "But I can have these."

A small bag of Utz sits on my tray. I already double checked the food label. I take out a chip, stare at it, and crunch on one.

"Delicious," I say.

When you have a food allergy, knowing what you can eat and double checking the label just in case gives you extraordinary freedom.

"You know, I keep offering you things, and every time you say, 'No,'" he says. "Also, you haven't offered me anything."

"You're right," I say. "How rude of me."

With that, I brush the tiny "Apostrophe Ts" into my hand. 

"Here," I say dropping the tiny pieces of paper in front of him. "I don't need these today."


JJ Vulopas is a rising senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.