I’m a gluten-free American Girl, in a nut-allergic Barbie world

When I was a kid, I had an American Girl doll. Samantha, to be precise. (No Molly doll for this Molly.) I loved Samantha dearly.

My parents made clear that I was also to love her carefully: this doll would be the most expensive thing in my personal possession for a very long time, and there would be no trips to the “doll hospital.”

Because of the dolls’ exorbitant price point, my sister (who did, by a twist of fate, have the Molly doll) and I weren’t really supposed to play with them, per se, more like take them out occasionally to gaze upon. And we certainly didn’t have a closet full of accessories.

However, there is in fact a whole world of American Girl extras to discover—a customizable wardrobe to rival that of Barbie. For example, did you know that there’s an allergy-free lunch accessory? It’s true!

The set includes a customizable food allergy bracelet, an EpiPen, and a healthful lunch. It’s adorable and inclusive—a great idea, though pardon me while I make fun of a few things:

Photo © American Girl

Photo © American Girl

1. What is a “sandwich skewer,” and why was that their best idea for a food-allergy-free lunch? Those brown bits look like bread to me, and though it could be wheat-free, it’s unclear. If the lunch was going to include bread anyway, why not a sandwich? If I were a kid already self-conscious about food allergies, the last thing I’d want is a conspicuously different lunch.

2. Why the cloth lunch bag? I suppose it’s safe for those with latex allergies, but a bento box would be, too—not to mention way more stylish.

3. Where’s the dessert? Don’t even pretend to count the “berry smoothie.”

Photo © American Girl

Photo © American Girl

4. In general, it pales in comparison with the “normal” lunch, which boasts a brownie, more fruit than vegetables, a cute “stackable” design, a purple spork, a sandwich cut into the shape of a daisy, and a FOLD-OUT PLACEMAT. Moms and dads, take note. That’s how you say “I love you” with a lunch.

5. The price is crazy (though at least it costs the same as the regular lunch—unrealistically, since safe foods tend to be more expensive, and let’s not get started on the EpiPen, which in real life go for over $200 a two-pack). At $28 per lunch, I would probably tell my future little American girl to just use her imagination.

Then again, that feeling of being a Normal American Girl? Priceless.

Like I said, this idea is adorable and inclusive. However, I would like to state for the record that it’s not really inclusive of the little gluten-free American girls running around out there, most of whom will never lay hands on an EpiPen (and should consider themselves fortunate for it).

I propose that the next $28 add-on be a gluten-free kit, including:

  • packets of wheat-free soy sauce
  • a shrink-wrapped gluten-free cookie with a big honking CERTIFIED symbol on the front
  • a pair of reading glasses, prematurely acquired from squinting at food labels
  • a toaster bag and tongs for tiny gluten-free bread slices
  • & some GlutenTox gluten test kits for those “safe” classroom snacks.

Now doesn’t that sound nice?

What else would you add? How you feel about the idea of food-allergy/gluten-free dolls? Would you buy this toy for a child? What are other ways to help kids understand food restrictions?

By the way, while there is no food-allergy Barbie—that I know of—I did come across an older post on the now-inactive blog No Peanuts Please about a “homemade” peanut- and egg-allergic Barbie. Worth a read, whether you hate Barbie or love her.

Peanut-allergic Barbie is not a vegetarian. Photo © Bugeater | Flickr

Food-allergy Barbie is not a vegetarian.
Photo © Bugeater | Flickr

Of course, what I really loved, more than any accessory and perhaps even more than my doll, were the books…so next week, I plan to post my spin on a celiac American Girl series. In the meantime, I’m taking name suggestions in the comments.

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17 thoughts on “I’m a gluten-free American Girl, in a nut-allergic Barbie world

  1. SStitches says:

    I LOVED Samantha. She was clearly the best. I did a book presentation in the second grade on _Samantha Saves the Day_. I had the sailor dress and a lantern, and I saved the freaking day.

  2. Pen says:

    I had Felicity and my parents were much like yours! She wasn’t a doll to *play* with. She was a doll to stare at. Though I did have some of the accessories. I mostly spent time putting her in careful tableaus and then just sitting and staring at her.
    I’m really surprised the doll-related horror movies don’t scare me more…

    Looking forward to the celiac versions!

  3. Molly, I’m super jealous of your Samantha doll – I never got to have one, and she was my fave. I still try to push the AG books on kids all the time 🙂

    I think we can add some more to that lunch – packets of Sunbutter, perhaps?

  4. Molly says:

    Alissa and Sydney—totally agree, Samantha was the best. That moment when she revises her essay on progress off the cuff and blows everyone’s minds? Chills. To this day. I was a lucky little girl to have her! My very own “Grandmary” gave her to me. (Thank you, Nannie, if you’re reading!)

    Pen—Felicity was pretty great, too. 🙂

  5. Casey says:

    I was rolling while reading this article. I actually had Nelly (the gift of pity from my parents after I shattered my wrist in soccer) and I loved them to death. I definitely went the imagination route, but this lunch is hilarious! So comforting to know that allergies are being acknoweldged, but I agree that American Girl went a little over-the-top. Go figure! 😉

  6. No spork for the allergy kids? That’s just cruel. The lunch sack looks like eco-friendly burlap, though.

  7. Mary Kate says:

    Is there food for Barbie at all? I mean, if you don’t eat, food allergies aren’t a problem. And I’ve now revealed how little I played with dolls as a child. I was totally a Care Bears girl.

    • Molly says:

      That’s a seriously excellent point. Anyone with Barbie’s figure probably does not eat very much at all. (Though MAYBE that’s because she has a ton of food sensitivities…one mustn’t assume.) Care Bears are definitely a cooler toy than Barbie, though they’re no Samantha.

  8. Rae says:

    I desperately wanted an American Girl doll. My parents were not as generous as yours were, Molly. I think I remember asking your parents to adopt me once…

  9. Vicky says:

    This post is hilarious!

  10. […] week, we took a look inside the lunch box of a modern American Girl doll. There were sandwich skewers. The times, they are a’changin’—why, the only accessory […]

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