On Friday, the Boston Children's Museum announced it was thrilled to welcome Stonewall Kitchen's new PB&J Cafe to the space formerly occupied by an Au Bon Pain and a McDonald's.
"Come on in for delicious bites and refreshments - the perfect pairing after a trip to the Museum!" the museum enthused about the cafe and its menu, which, as the name states, has lots of peanut-butter offerings.
The thrill didn't last long, as parents of kids with peanut allergies quickly piled on to question what the hell the museum and Stonewall Kitchen were thinking:
Non allergic kid eats pb at your restaurant kid doesn't wipe hands plays on xyz hands on exhibit. Peanut allergic kid plays on xyz next, dead peanut allergy kid.
The museum responded that Stonewall Kitchen is an independent concern, nothing to do with the museum at all, really, aside from the museum leasing some of its space in the museum to it, and besides no food is allowed in the museum anyway, outside of one designated "brown bag" area.
The museum attached a statement from Stonewall Kitchen that said previous tenants in the space had sold foods with allergens, too. Also, the statement continued, the new cafe has prominent allergen warnings on its doors, making it sound like kids would only enter the cafe after visiting the museum rather than before. And nobody's forcing people to eat there, or to consume the other offerings there, such as clam chowder and milk, which also have allergens. Oh, and the museum doesn't ban peanut-butter sandwiches in its "brown bag" area. And kids allergic to peanut butter can eat a yummy almond-butter sandwich instead.
Just six minutes later, a parent replied:
It's a space that YOU are leasing to a PB shop that directly connects to your CHILDREN's MUSEUM. Having some allergens and allowing people to bring their own food in to that space is very different from leasing a space to a peanut butter restaurant as a primary offering. We will continue fighting this and frankly Stonewall Kitchen your response is gaslighting and erasing of people's very serious concerns for their children's safety and shows your lack of understanding and empathy. Be prepared for a significant backlash.
Another parent replied the issue is not that kids with allergies would eat PB&J in the cafe, but that kids who do eat there would then spread peanut proteins around the museum, endangering the kids with allergies:
Many kids with peanut allergies don’t have to ingest the allergen. They just have to touch the protein to their skin. Like at all of the interactive exhibits. True, brown bag peanut butter lunches are not banned, BUT encouraging people to eat Peanut Butter is absolutely different.
Allies checked in as well:
How can you give gluten-free options yet be serving a HUGE life-threatening allergen?!? We don’t have the allergy ourselves, yet our house is peanut free to keep our friends safe. Such an easy decision to keep our friends alive.