With peanut allergies three times as common now as they were less than 20 years ago, the panic over nut exposure is fairly warranted. Nut allergies are nasty, even life-threatening, for many of those who suffer from them. As a result, there's been a major push in the last decade to get peanut butter out of schools and even airplanes out of concerns that they might elicit a reaction from students or passengers who have an allergy.
The final frontier of peanut protection has been in the great American pastime: baseball. "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…" the old song goes. Stadium floors are littered with shells and skins from the legumes. It seems impossible to imagine the sport without the damn things.
But we just might have to.
The Regions End stadium in Birmingham, Alabama, got a thorough cleaning earlier this week and was scrubbed of all traces of nuts and seeds to accommodate guests who suffer from severe peanut allergies. The process included bleaching the seats, scrubbing the kitchen, and even wiping down windows to remove any possible peanut residue. Additionally, no food containing nuts was served at the game that took place last night between the Birmingham Barons and the Mississippi Braves.
All of this action is part of a new event called "Peanut-Free Night," which aims to draw in guests who might otherwise avoid the stadium due to their condition. In the past, other teams and stadiums have offered similar events, such as a peanut-free seating section at Cincinnati Reds games. There's even a website called Peanut-Free Baseball dedicated to listing major-league and minor-league baseball games that are suitable for allergy sufferers to attend.
The Barons issued a matter-of-fact statement, commenting: "The mission of Peanut-Free Night is to allow fans with peanut allergies to enjoy a game in complete comfort, without the worry of coming into contact with peanut products." Sounds thoughtful, right?
Some internet commenters are less enthused.
"We're getting softer every day. The next generation will be allergic to going outside," wrote user "daroofa."
"They should stay home and watch baseball on TV. World is turning nutz," commenter "dadyourweird" chimed in.
"OMG! Next thing you know, they will be banning Hot Dogs and Beer ….but I seriously hope not," "Retired Old Guy" shuddered.
But when those with allergies can lose consciousness or die from exposure to even small amounts of peanut, it could be safe to say that a lack of peanuts could be less disruptive to the sport than a fellow game attendee keeling over and clutching at their throat in the eighth inning.
In a similar vein of legume-eating tradition, the service of peanuts on airplanes is protected by law, oddly enough, though most airlines will accommodate travelers with allergies by refraining from serving nuts when requested.
But just in case, we might want to think up some alternate lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."