When Smarties Aren't Nut-Free

Allergy Alert

by: Erica Ehm

When Smarties Aren't Nut-Free

As you probably know from posts like this, my daughter has severe nut allergies. I live in a state of semi-terror. Must. never. let. guard. down. Ever.

When the PR people from Nestle sent over this cute Smarties Chicken and Egg chocolate Easter treat, my daughter was excited. I'm a big fan of Nestle chocolates — especially the Coffee Crisps — because they're nut-free and dependable.

My daughter has a sweet tooth like me. She's a choco-holic. But before I let her get her little hands on this seasonal treat, I checked the ingredients — just in case. Even though it's Nestle. Even though it's Smarties. I was shocked to read "may contain peanuts and tree nuts."  Whaaa...?

"Sorry sweetie, they're not nut free." Her little face collapsed into tears. It was as if she was betrayed by the company that has always been there for her. 

To our family, Smarties is one of our go-to safe snacks. If we're at a party and someone has Smarties, my daughter knows she can have them. So, why would this Easter treat for kids not be produced in a peanut-free facility like their other products? And how many parents may also assume this product is nut-free?

With my child in tears, I fired off an email to the Nestle PR department, asking them to explain why the change in policy.

To my surprise, Selena from Nestle explained that ONLY THE JUNIOR SIZES OF SMARTIES HAVE THE PEANUT-FREE CLAIM! Did you know that? As a mom to an anaphylactic daughter, I'm embarrassed to say that this is new information to me. 

Selina also wrote, "In alignment with Anaphylaxis Canada’s recommendations, we always advise our consumers to read the product label and watch for our peanut-free logo as ingredients may change but the packaging will be current."

If I could make a wish right now, it would be that Nestle could magically make ALL their products safe for those with allergies. It would make our lives much sweeter, safer and much less confusing.

In the meantime, I will continue to be especially vigilant and read all labels—and never assume a product is safe. My daughter's life is on the line.

BTW, thanks to the folks at Kinder who also sent over an Easter Treat—a huge 100% nut-free Kinder Egg. You made my daughter feel very special.

Kinder Egg

Looking for more information about food allergies? Here's a useful post about the biggest misconceptions about allergies.


My Plan to Pay It Forward

I May Show Up At Your Door with Kleenex

by: Erica Ehm

My Plan to Pay It Forward

My philosophy in life is to constantly surprise with kindness.

I've been known to compliment a total stranger on her beautiful smile. I call up store managers to tell them about a fantastic customer experience rather than to complain. And when my kids are busy at work or happy at play I've been known to suddenly scoop them into my arms to remind them how awesome they are. Just cuz.

I have a secret evil plan *Mwahahaha*. I am on a quiet mission to make the world a better place by constantly sending out positive vibes. My hope is by doing someone a good turn, he or she will eventually pass it on.

I model it for my kids. I practice it with the team at YMC. I do it daily on social media. I don't do it for a thank you. I do it because it makes ME feel good.

Have you ever bought the person behind you a coffee and watched a look of confusion and then joy on his face? I get off on that. Helping makes my heart happy.

So you can imagine how quickly I said yes when the folks at Kleenex invited me to take on the role of a Care Pack messenger to help them pay it forward through their Softness Worth Sharing program.

Maybe you've seen the ads on TV where you could surprise a friend with a free Kleenex Care Package?

I'm able to take this idea of sharing a Kleenex Care Package to the extreme. We're running a contest on YMC where you have to share a story of a time when you performed an act of kindness or when you were on the receiving end of it. And the Grand Prize Winner—anywhere in Canada—will be getting a knock on the front door from me with a huge Care Pack. Yes, there will be Kleenex, and there will also be a $1,000 Prize (you can choose to share either a Spa Day, Shopping Spree, or Dinner and Hotel Stay with someone special).

And, well, you'll have to invite me in for a drink. And chocolate. And maybe we'll watch American Idol or Mad Men together.

And then maybe you and I can sneak off to the local coffee shop, hand some stranger a Kleenex Care Pack, buy her a coffee and donut and experience the feeling of paying it forward together. And then you can join me on my secret mission to make the world a better place. *Mwahahaha*.

Kindness is good.

Wanna enter to win a $1,000 prize from Kleenex and a visit from Erica Ehm?

Click here to share your story of a time when you performed an act of kindness or a time when you were on the receiving end of an act of kindness.

The top 10 most inspiring stories will win a Kleenex® Brand gift box filled with wellness and comfort products valued at $50.

One Grand Prize winner will win $1,000 towards a choice of one of three “Pay it Forward” experiences that can be shared with a family member or friend.


Gretchen Rubin is Happier at Home

An Interview to Make You Smile

by: Erica Ehm

Gretchen Rubin is Happier at Home

When I was invited to interview Gretchen Rubin about her #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project, I jumped at the chance. Both of us braved the biggest storm to hit Toronto in years to meet at Kobo headquarters on a snowy morning to chat about her newest book, Happier at Home.

Here are some of the highlights:

As you can see from our chat, Gretchen seems to be extremely happy these days. And why not? She left her life as a lawyer to become a guinea pig of joy, an experimenter of elation, a guru of feeling good. Her plan was to examine the causes, benefits and symptoms of happiness on her life by trying to live happier. In Happier at Home, Gretchen puts herself through a series of very disciplined monthly exercises, each geared to up the joy in and around her family home.

And when I say disciplined, I mean seriously disciplined. From consciously deciding to kiss her husband every. single. morning. and. every. single. night no matter what, to clearing out every single cluttered drawer in her home, Gretchen went overboard so we don't have to. Instead, her monthly manias allow us a glimpse into how small gestures can affect our moods.

Dealing with clutter is definitely a concept that resonated with me. According to research in the book, and Gretchen's personal experience, there is direct correlation between tidying up your living space and feeling content. For this reason, she also went through the many messy shelves around her New York apartment and put all of her belongings, including her beloved kids' lit collection, in order. By doing this, her satisfaction level shot up. 

While possessions shouldn't overtake our lives, it was interesting how Gretchen points out that those who do hang on to "things" or mementos for emotional reasons are often happier and more connected people. The key is to not hang on to too much stuff, and to keep it organized.

Happier at Home is not just about the stuff. It's very much about the changing relationships with her two young daughters and obliging husband. Her family had to have been extremely patient to indulge Gretchen's monthly projects which often directly involved them. I very much related to her decision to spend extra quality time with each of her daughters individually, definitely upping the happy quotient with her kids. She also improved her marriage by consciously not nagging her husband, and only speaking kindly to him. Not surprisingly, her behaviour had a very positive affect on their marriage, making life happier at home for everyone. Any couple in a long term marriage can relate to that one for sure.

Will this book make you happier? Gretchen provides a number of very practical, easy projects for you to try that may impact you and those around you positively. Just the smallest changes can have a big ripple effect. And who doesn't want to be just that much happier at home? 

Three YMC members will be very happy when they win their own copy of Happier at Home, courtesy of Random House of Canada.

Click here for a chance to win this book!


Check out more of Gretchen's work and join the conversation at:


Photo: Andrew Williamnson