Tag Archives: potatoes

April Fools! 6 Gluten-Free Pranks to Play Today

I’ll be back soon with more absences of answers to ever-present questions about celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders, but I thought I’d take a break for April Fools Day.

This day last year, I convinced a few people that Dunkin Donuts would be going all gluten-free by 2015 (sorry!). Between then and now, the chain announced that, although it wouldn’t be dropping wheat from its pastries entirely, as I’d “predicted,” it would introduce wheat-free goods to every store nationwide in 2013.

The gluten-free community got pretty excited about that. But sadly, the joke was on us: Dunkin Donuts reversed the decision months later, with little explanation, before I even got to try one of those shrink-wrapped muffins. A lot of people were disappointed, and truth be told, I felt a bit responsible, as though I’d jinxed it. So this year, none o’ that.

However, superstition aside, there’s no reason not to get what laughs we can out of our chronic disease. If you haven’t yet decided what jokes to make today, here are a few you could try:

“Guess what! I don’t have celiac disease after all.”

Just as it’s good to have an all-purpose GF flour blend (if such a thing really exists), a good all-purpose trick comes in handy, too. Play this prank on just about anyone. Take it to the next level by whipping out a sandwich (which should of course be made with a reasonably uncrumbly gluten-free bread, unless you’re a truly dedicated prankster) and taking a big bite.

Girl eating sandwich

This “gluten” sure is good!
Photo © Jessie Jacobson | Flickr

“Soooo . . . celiac disease is contagious.”

Said with a bit of a wince and an “oopsie” expression, this is handy for that annoying coworker who’s always sticking his gluteny hands into your gluten-free snacks. To kick it up a notch, come up to him later, stare intently at his elbow, and when he asks what you’re doing, say, “Oh, I thought I saw some dermatitis herpetiformis. It’s probably nothing, though.”

“Bad news. They just found out potatoes contain gluten.”

This joke has limited utility. Most people with celiac won’t believe it; most non-celiac people already do.

Mr. Potato Head and family

Personified potatoes: Creepy? Yes. Glutenous? No.
Photo © Jeremy Page | Flickr

“I’m going back to school to become a [dietitian/gastroenterologist/celiac disease researcher].”

This is another good one to use at work, though probably not on your boss. If your parents are still paying off loans from your undergraduate English degree, maybe you’d like to try it on them, too. To really go for it, forge a letter of acceptance to display to the skeptics.

“Turns out, gluten is bad for everyone.”

Several savvy authors have made a killing off of this classic, so why not get in on the fun? Arm yourself with statistics and direct your chosen fool to the library to learn more. If it’s in a book, it must be true.

girl eating bread and yelling

Breeeaaddddd. It’s coming for you!
Photo © Eltjo Poort

“Hey, did you hear about that new gluten-free and vegetarian restaurant opening in Washington Heights next month?”

That’s not funny.

gluten-free restaurants in New York - Gluten-Free Fun map

See this map of gluten-free-friendly NYC establishments created by Erin of Gluten-Free Fun (interactive version here)? Cool, right? See how many are north of Central Park? …yep. But hey, it’s home.

Happy April Fools Day! Hope the jokes are on everyone else and not on you.

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The luck o’ the Irish

Photo © YankeeNovember3

Photo © YankeeNovember3

Are you wearing green today? I am! I’m not fully Irish, but I’ve always felt most attached to the Irish bit o’ my heritage (maybe it comes of being named Molly and having an older brother named Patrick—if you’re reading, happy name day). Lately, with all the St. Patty’s Day fervor—Irish soda bread recipes right and left in the blogosphere, viridescent-clad ladies walking arm-in-arm down the street belting “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”—I can’t help but let my thoughts drift to the Emerald Isle. In particular, I’ve been musing on the luck o’ the Irish.

Given the colorful (and I don’t just mean green) history of the Irish people, this phrase has always confused me. Sure, the Irish gave us four-leaf clovers and leprechauns, but it’s not as though the Irish are particularly lucky, all things considered. They’ve faced oppression, famine, prejudice, and internecine strife; their heritage has been reduced, in the United States at least, to a single day of green food coloring and daytime binge drinking per year; and the international financial crisis of the past several years hit them, well, not exactly like a pot of gold. As my thorough internet surfing has confirmed, my confusion is well founded. Experts suggest that the phrase may have originated as a slur at worst or an ironical joke at best. In other words, the luck o’ the Irish is no luck at all.

I’ve heard again and again that the Irish also have bad luck when it comes to celiac disease. The Irish have the highest rate of celiac disease in the world, I’ve read; western Ireland apparently has it even worse than the rest; and the Reverend Peter Green even used JFK’s Irish heritage as additional evidence in his case that the president may have had celiac disease. How’s that for an end-of-the-rainbow reward?

But…when I started looking into the origins of this claim, I found a 1970s study indicating a 1 in 300 prevalence of celiac disease in Ireland. Although multiple articles since then have referenced this statistic to shore up the claim that the Irish are disproportionately affected by celiac, the going statistic for the prevalence in the United States is 1 in 133—clearly a higher probability than 1 in 300. And the more recent the study or source, the less likely the author is to claim that celiac strikes more often in the Irish population. The most recent data seems to indicate the highest rate of celiac disease appears in the Saharawi population in the Western Sahara—not an Irish- or otherwise European-descended population.

So, have the Irish have gotten luckier, or the rest of the world a little unluckier? Or is it simply that the authors of the original study were unlucky in their margin of error?

Photo © cuorhome

Photo © cuorhome

I’m not sure. But as a proud part-Irish lass, I feel lucky to know there’s no pressing need to blame my celiac diagnosis on my Gaelic forebears. Plus, although some celiac-stricken Celts may feel unlucky to lose their Guinness and soda bread, their true national treasure, the potato, is naturally gluten-free. Personally, I count this as good fortune indeed.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I hope your eyes, Irish or otherwise, are smilin’.

Are you celebrating today? Cooking anything special? Perhaps enjoying a pint or two of green beer (or Green’s beer)? Do you, too, find it hard to feel unlucky when potatoes aren’t blighted?

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