I don't imagine anybody can know the most letters-to-the-editor a newspaper op-ed has ever provoked. But if the record could be computed, I think it would be broken by Joel Stein's piece yesterday, titled "Nut Allergies--A Yuppie Invention".
Yes, a tiny number of kids have severe peanut allergies that cause anaphylactic shock, and all their teachers should be warned, handed EpiPens and given a really expensive gift at Christmas. But unless you're a character on "Heroes," genes don't mutate fast enough to have caused an 18% increase in childhood food allergies between 1997 and 2007. And genes certainly don't cause 25% of parents to believe that their kids have food allergies, when 4% do. Yuppiedom does. . . .
Since food allergies kill about as many people as lightning strikes each year, we probably don't need to ban peanuts from schools or put warnings on every product saying it was "made in a factory that also has a break room where a guy named Dave often sneaks in a King Size Snickers despite this 'diet' he says he's on."
Boy, I hope Mr. Stein has some good bodyguards.