From the Allergic Living archives. First published in the magazine in 2007.
With songs like “Smellephant the Allergic Elephant,” the kids think Kyle Dine rocks.
He has been strumming a guitar since he was 10. Now at the age of 23, Kyle Dine has played many a coffee shop and open mike night in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario.
But along the way, it seems that Dine, who is at risk of anaphylaxis to tree nuts and peanuts and has a slew of lesser allergies, has developed something else: an ear for kid-friendly allergy music. He’s honing his chops as the troubadour for a generation of reactive youngsters with songs such as “That a Peanut” and “Tingle on my Tongue.” One song even features a sneeze solo.
Allergic Living’s Claire Gagné spoke to Dine as he awaited the release of his first CD called, what else – “You Must be Nuts.”
What got you started on writing music for allergic kids?
I have a business, AllergyTranslation.com, and while doing research for it I realized that there are a lot of great resources out there for kids. But there’s nothing uplifting. So I wanted to make a CD that would ingrain really important messages [e.g. gaining allergy confidence, reading ingredients carefully], and still be fun.
What will kids enjoy about your music?
The characters. There are some neat ones: Smellephant the Allergic Elephant, and two superheroes: Epi-Man, and this guy named Dale Evan, who’s going to save the world from food allergies. There are also a lot of instruments that are going to make the kids clap their hands, and get up and dance.
Do you have a favorite song on the CD?
The one that I really like is “Smellephant the Allergic Elephant” because it’s universal to all children with or without food allergies. It’s a song about recognizing when food gives your body a negative reaction, and how you must be safe and stop eating it, even if it’s your favourite food – i.e. elephants and peanuts.
You’ve performed for a few anaphylaxis support group events. Who else has heard your songs?
I’ve been playing at schools here in Kingston. But it’s interesting to perform for a support group, where everybody has anaphylaxis or allergies, compared to a classroom, where you only have two or three allergic kids.
I changed the message a little bit to make it suitable for everyone. The kids without allergies were almost wishing that they had allergies. They’re really into the songs, dancing and having fun. I play a 45-minute set, and then there’s 45 minutes of questions. Everybody wants to learn more.
What kinds of questions do the kids ask you?
Sometimes they just want to share their story about their dad, who had a reaction to milk. They’ll ask what you should do if you find an EpiPen in the schoolyard.
And then there’s just some young kid extreme questions, like what do you do if someone stabs you in the back with an EpiPen. It’s quite a range, but they are all great questions.
Next: Lyrics to “Smellephant the Allergic Elephant”