Dear Hershey’s Chocolate Company, Please Update Your Packaging.
I am a mom. I am a chocolate lover. I am a huge fan of the Hershey Company. Not just for their products, but also for their values, their history, and their social responsibility as a major corporation. I had the privilege of doing my student teaching at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA. I know that their social endeavors stem from a rich heritage of using corporate dollars to help those in need.
However, I see an issue that, as a mom, as a mom who is lucky enough to have allergy-free kids, makes me feel like the Hershey Company is not doing enough.
While my own children are blessed to be free from any allergies, their friends are not. My oldest son’s best friend has a life-threatening nut allergy. I have heard that term, “life-threatening nut allergy” many times over the past five years that they have been friends. I know that this friend’s parents have been very pro-active in teaching their son, their son’s teachers, friends, and friends’ parents about his allergy. But I didn’t really realize how absolutely terrifying it is to live with the threat that something as simple as a misread label can take a life. Not until last night.
Last night, I got a call from my son’s friend’s little sister, asking to come to our house so her dad could ride in an ambulance to the hospital with her brother who was having an allergic reaction. The culprit? A mini Hershey bar…with almonds.
You see, while his parents have taught him how to read labels, and while they as a family go through his Halloween candy to pick out anything containing nuts, something slipped through. Instead of tucking into a delicious dessert in the form of a milk chocolate candy bar, he bit into one with almonds, which triggered the events that had him rushed to the hospital.
Because his parents are so diligent, and his mom is a nurse, he is okay. His dad administered the epi-pen, called the ambulance and got him to the care he needed in time. But, before being whisked away, he cried out, “Dad, hurry! I don’t want to die tonight!”
A nine-year-old kid had the terrifying fear that his life might end because of a misread label.
Two days ago, I reached into my kids’ Halloween candy and grabbed what I thought was a plain Hershey bar. By mistake, I grabbed one with almonds. I didn’t realize it until I bit into it. After all, you can see how similar the packaging is. My reaction was one of surprise because I was tasting something for which I wasn’t prepared. I like almonds just fine. I just wasn’t expecting them. So I ate the rest and went on my merry way.
But this boy had the exact same experience I did, yet it put him in the hospital, fearing for his life.
I know the Hershey Company is a very responsible, ethical, caring corporation. I know how highly they value the well-being of children. So I ask for this.
Please, Hershey Chocolate Company. Please update your packaging to more clearly delineate your plain chocolate from your products that contain nuts. Especially your iconic Hershey bar…with almonds.
A simple change in print color, background color, something could mean the difference between life and death. While this was a fortunate outcome with a healthy boy, the very fact that he feared even for a single second for his life is not okay.
I cannot imagine how terrifying it must be to worry about your child’s life in this way on a daily basis. All I know is that a company as responsible as Hershey’s can take a simple step to relieving one more source of that terror for thousands of parents and children everywhere.