At just 13 years of age, Sydney Silverman is the first to admit that she’s not the most knowledgeable on the subject of kissing.
However, that hasn’t prevented her from having a big idea and inventing a product that could help teens with food allergies – those who have hit the dating years – to stay safe with a new significant other.
Two years ago, at FARE’s Teen Summit, Sydney heard a speaker discussing relationships and the challenges of dating with food allergies. This got Sydney thinking about the question of how to handle that awkward situation of needing to explain to a new date that he or she must be careful about consuming your allergens. That is, if there is any possibility of kissing. To break the ice on this important topic, she developed what she calls the Kiss-Me-Kit, a portable oral hygiene toolbox.
“I came up with the Kiss-Me-Kit to offer a lighthearted opener to having a conversation about food allergies and really figuring out if the person you are with will understand,” she tells Allergic Living.
“I knew that oral hygiene was really important when it came to dating and kissing. I wanted to make it really small so it would be easy to travel with and we needed to make sure it had all the oral hygiene products.” Each kit includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouth wash and an allergy information card.
Research has shown that, at least the case of peanut butter, waiting several hours after eating the food and then eating a peanut-free meal will reduce allergenic protein in saliva to undetectable levels. However, often partners will simply avoid the specific food that would cause a reaction.
By last November, it was Sydney’s turn to be a presenter at FARE’s Teen Summit. She admits to being a little nervous about telling other teens about the Kiss-Me-Kit, but felt “pretty confident” about her idea. Her father, Michael Silverman, says they’ve given away hundreds of the kits – which could come in especially handy on Valentine’s Day – to friends, family and people in the food allergy community.
Sydney, who is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, sweet potatoes and bananas, hopes to continue advocating for the food allergy cause. On her website, she has helpful tips on how to have that sometimes awkward, but necessary, conversation about food allergies on the first date.
“When you live with food allergies, it’s mainly your responsibility to inform or educate anyone who doesn’t have great knowledge about them,” says the wise beyond her years student.