Parents of Kids With Nut Allergies Shocked by Children's Museum's Plans for PB&J Café

The Boston Children's Museum's announcement that an eatery called "PB&J Café" would be opening has many parents concerned

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It started out simply enough, as these things often do, after the Boston Children's Museum announced it was opening a new café.

Soon, the Facebook post was trending, with parents reacting to word that the café, owned by Stonewalll Kitchen, would be named PB&J and would focus on peanut butter creations.

"Honestly, I was pretty shocked when I saw it," Erin Harleman said.

Harleman says one of her children has a severe nut allergy, and going to a museum where peanut butter is served, simply, is not an option.

"We won't be going, if the PB&J Café opens as planned, as a peanut-butter-themed café, we won't be going back, it is just not possible," the Wayland mother of two said Tuesday. "Peanut butter is totally different, it is an oily substance, it gets on everything, the residue lingers, and you know, little kids are messy, it is just a fact."

Since then, the museum's original Facebook post has attracted more than 700 comments and more than 100 shares.

"We have read every comment, and we take your heartfelt concerns very seriously," a museum spokesperson said Tuesday. "We are working with Stonewall Kitchen to find a solution that meets the needs of all families, including those with allergy concerns, and that offers safe and appealing menu options for all families that visit the Museum."

On Tuesday afternoon, a Stonewall Kitchen spokesperson said the company was surprised by the reaction online, adding the new restaurant was not actually in the museum, but in their store, which is located inside the museum building.

"Certainly it has given us pause and we are assessing how we can increase messaging in our store about our offerings and encourage hand washing to ensure everyone's safety," the spokesperson said. "We weren't expecting this type of reaction, in part because the café is not inside the museum, and also because the café isn't really all about peanut butter."

The company going on to say they people shouldn't read too much into the name.

"We just thought that 'PB&J Café' was a cute name, not realizing that some would think that that's the only item, or even the primary item on the menu," Stonewall Kitchen said. "We were certainly not intending to be insensitive to those with allergies."

For Harleman, it is a tough decision. She says her children love the museum, but this isn't a risk she is willing to take.

Adriana Mancuso-Moniz of Milford agrees.

"I think it is concerning. I was pretty shocked because it seems so obvious that it would be a bad idea," the mother of two said.

Like Harleman, Mancuso-Moniz has a child with a severe nut allergy.

"As a parent of a child with a life-threatening peanut allergy, we already live in a zone where we are constantly accessing risk," she said. "Before, sure, there was some risk, but now, the risk is so high, I can not imagine putting my child in that position to be surrounded by that much peanut residue on all the things kids have been touching, it would just be insane of me."

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