You Thought That You Had Prepared for Everything.

Once again this year, Philly has a ton of great places to take in the big game. Downtown establishments like Bank and Bourbon in the Philadelphia Lowes Hotel, the Boozy Mutt, Dooney’s Pub, and City Works Eatery & Pour House in the King of Prussia area are all planning elaborate spreads for Kansas City vs. San Francisco.

The only thing that could complete the picture would be the Eagles being actually in the game (maybe next year.)

This year, you are hosting the Super Bowl Party.

This year, you are hosting. Time to clean off the TV set, vacuum the wreck room, and begin cooking — a lot of cooking.

You’ve made all the necessary provisions. Those jumbo shrimp with the cocktail sauce that burns your esophagus for hours, cheesesteak spring rolls with the hot ketchup, wings with that sauce that ends up as much on the furniture as it does in someone’s digestive track. And for dessert, that chocolate cake.

Then it gets dropped on you like huge jello mold.

One of your guests needs to be gluten free. What does that even mean?

For an increasing number of Philadelphians dealing with Celiac Disease, pleasurable gatherings like this can evoke the anxiety of ingesting something that could potentially make them ill for a week or more.

Photo Courtesy of Melissa Askew on

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that renders the small intestine incapable of breaking down a protein called gluten, which is most commonly found in wheat, barley, or rye. At present, the only treatment is a complete change in diet. Depending on one’s tolerance, some people with Celiac can have a certain amount of cross contamination, while others none at all.

Over 3 million Americans are estimated to be living with the disease in the United States and it is estimated that 83% or more are living with the disease and have not yet been diagnosed, meaning that they are unaware.

In May 2023, a state grant for funding Celiac Disease Research was presented by Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Over the past several decades, Celiac diagnosis has increased by an estimated 7.5% each year.

Today, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania has a tremendous commitment to the treatment of Celiac. The Center for Celiac Disease at (CHOP) is one of the biggest and most significant of its kind in America. It is estimated that they treat more than 3,000 children each year who are positive for Celiac and their families.

Visitors to Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park concessions both now have gluten free options for those who need it when taking in an Eagles or Phillies game.

So how do you handle this?

Don’t throw away the microwave, stove, or toaster (that being said most of us had to throw away the microwave, stove, and toaster.)

Have a Beer? — Not to be rude, we just can’t accept that beer. Beer is made of wheat, so have some wine instead which is considered to be gluten free. Check labels always, but usually soft drinks are fine to serve.

Appetizers Anyone? — Your local market is almost certain to stock gluten free pretzels, crackers, and potato chips. Almost all packaged peanuts are gluten-free. Shrimp is gluten free, but check the cocktail sauce label that you are serving to protect against cross contamination. Also packaged cheese should be OK, but again check the manufacturer labeling prior to serving.

Will You Be Having Dessert? — Unless you want to obtain gluten free desserts like cakes, cookies, or cakes, the best idea is generally to fall back on ice cream most of which contains no risk for celiacs. Again, check labels.

For some with celiac, they may wish to attend with their own food source. An exposure can put them down for a week or more. Try if possible to provide a safe preparation area for the food that we provide.

So now you are ready to be a proper host for your unexpected guests.

So before opening kickoff, don’t blame us. Blame our intestines.

Of the high maintenance guests finding out that each year that they have celiac and attending events like yours — I am one of them.

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