Rebecca Wolfson


The Raffi of Food Allergies: Inside the Allergic-Kid Economy

Kyle Dine sings songs for kids who hate nuts. And as more and more American kids develop food allergies, his fan base is only getting bigger.

As a kid, Kyle Dine was introduced to a long menu of foods he wasn’t allowed to eat: tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, turmeric, mustard, shellfish, salmon. But Dine was determined not to let his food allergies get in his way. That didn’t always turn out so well: He took risks and didn’t read labels. When he was 21, a relative handed him a dessert square and told him it was egg-free. Within two minutes, Dine felt his throat closing up—the dessert contained cashews. He alerted his mother, who injected him with his EpiPen and called 911. He spent the night swollen in the hospital, hooked up to an IV that pumped his body full of antihistamines.

“It was a very close call,” Dine says. “It was definitely a very shocking experience for me.” Today, Dine has reinvented himself as the Raffi of food allergies. A couple years after his dessert square scare, Dine was teaching guitar at an Ontario summer camp when he met a group of kids who all happened to be allergic to peanuts. The group broke into an ad lib song with the refrain, “We Hate Nuts!” Dine now performs a version of that song—and other allergy-themed ditties, like “My Epineph Friend” and “Food Allergies Rock”—for groups of children from Toronto to Texas.

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