After my 5-year-old daughter's recent softball game, a teammate's father gave his girl the reward of an excited hug for her standout performance. However, he made her turn down another -- the post-game snack of a Rice Krispie treat.
The father examined the ingredients, saw that the treat contained gelatin, and told his daughter to give it back to what had become a very confused snack mom.
If you read the headline, you probably already figured out why this happened: the father and daughter are Muslim, and anything with gelatin is among the no-nos if you are keeping your diet halal, the Koranic term for Islamic dietary laws.
I'm stunned, actually, that I hadn't witnessed something like this sooner. My 5-year-old's team, which I help coach, is not the first time I have had Muslim families with children on my teams. My area of Chicago has a sizable Muslim population, evidence of which being my oldest son's eighth-grade graduation ceremony featuring more Mohammeds than Smiths.
The snack issue hadn't come up in the two previous years I had coached with my youngest son's baseball team. One year, a Muslim family handled the post-game snacks, so I presume the bags of McDonald's they gave out to my youngest son's team met their dietary guidelines. Another year, I don't recall any Muslim children having to return snacks, although having drank and partied one night with one Arabic boy's parents, I can attest that they were not stereotypical stern, fanatical Muslims, even as, that night, they set off mini-explosives in a terroristic orgy. (Sorry, Fox News took over at the end of the sentence. Actually, the family was lighting fireworks for the Fourth of July.)
So for the confused snack mother who was given her Rice Krispie treat back, and for anyone else who just got used to not handing out anything with peanuts and is already throwing up his or hands about more diet rules, let me point to you to a few web sites that might help.
One is a halal/nonhalal food list from the Islamic Association of Collin County (Texas) that includes many snacks by brand name.
And this site lists specific ingredients that are halal (yes), haram (no) and mushbooh (probably not).
Perhaps your team has no children who worry about whether their candy bar is halal, or maybe you just would rather not bother trying to figure it out. Though there is one way as a snack parent to violate no dietary laws of any religion, and do better for the kids nutritionally: serve fruits and vegetables after the game.
However, if you do that, I have the feeling you'll have more than just one girl insisting on giving back the snack.