Hot New Trend Alert: Poisoning Your Son’s Wife

This is the last thing we need right now.

Two couples having dinner, (B&W)
(Image credit: George Marks)

Slipping toxic chemicals and allergens to your son's partner is officially IN. FOR. FALL. As if the world didn’t feel unsafe enough, a very alarming trend has emerged on the internet this week that suggests that you need to be very careful about what you eat around certain family members.

Initially, it was this tweet from BuzzFeed’s Ellie Hall resurrecting a disturbing tale that caught our attention:

To recap: Slate’s advice column, Dear Prudence, then written by Emily Yoffe (now written by Daniel Mallory Ortberg), answered a question in 2012 from a woman who was fairly certain her mother-in-law was poisoning her by suggesting she swap her plate with her husband’s. The woman takes this advice, switches her dinner with her husband’s without telling anyone, and he gets violently ill—then accuses her of trying to kill him, revealing he was probably in on it the whole time. (According to the woman’s follow-up, they are—thankfully—getting a divorce.)

That story is wild. And you’d think it would be an outlier, right? Except! That an Ask Polly column—The Cut’s advice column, written by Heather Havrilesky—answered a question this morning about a very similar damn thing!

In this column, the woman in question explains that she told her husband’s parents that she couldn’t eat mushrooms because of a severe allergy, and then they “randomly” began putting mushrooms in everything. Her husband even told her that they didn’t really used to serve mushrooms all that much, and now they refuse to stop serving them and are angry with her about overreacting about a deathly allergy.

WHAT. Girl, get out of there! The calls are coming from inside the house! (At least her husband isn’t straight-up gaslighting her about it though, right?)

And if that weren’t enough, the comments on The Cut’s article suggest that poisoning your son’s wife is actually a hot trend! Read, for example, the story of a person’s mother-in-law who kept trying to “disprove” their allergy to bell peppers, even adding them to dishes that didn’t actually call for them:

I had been dating my boyfriend ( (now husband) for 6 years and his mother went out of her way in those 6 years to add bell peppers (which I am allergic to) in every dish she ever made - to the point where she literally sliced JUST bell peppers (three different colors) and served it as crudite before dinner. Also, she was cooking Korean food 90% of the time that does NOT ever call for bell peppers in recipes.

After the 15th time she did this, my boyfriend finally got up and told his mother that if she can't remember I have a bell pepper allergy, how were we ever going to trust her to watch our future kids? Was she going to willfully ignore a peanut allergy? She responded "BUT BELL PEPPERS ARE HEALTHY. HER ALLERGY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE."

I 1000000% believe this letter is real.

Also - in our first year of marriage she has served me bell peppers twice.

The husband’s response—telling his mom she can’t watch their future kids if they can't trust her—is truly a genius example of reverse-guilting (I'm Jewish and I went to Catholic school so let's just say *cracks knuckles* I know a thing or two about guilt). Or take this story, of a person whose mother-in-law tried to hide pineapples, which they were also deathly allergic to, in everything and then deny they were present:

Sadly enough, I've been through this with my husband's family. I'm extremely allergic to pineapple to the point where my throat will swell if I eat/drink anything with pineapple. His family knew this from the start and whenever we go over there for holidays my mother in law still hid it in a dish every single time. She went so far as to offer me "apple juice" once when it was really PINEapple juice. If we asked if pineapple was in any of the food, she'd reply no then we'd see a chunk of it in a dish before I ate it. After 7 years of dealing with that every holiday she managed to get me finally by putting pineapple juice on some fish. Crazy enough, she quit trying to kill me after she saw my reaction (hives all over my chest/throat, and trouble breathing). I'm sorry you're going through this but just know if you want to be around these people you can. Just bring your own food, that's what I do now and while initially it seemed to offend my in laws, it's better than me dying. It's also helped the rift that grew between my husband and his family because they clearly didn't care.

Saboteur! This method is downright medieval!

How do you even solve for something like this? Is the answer “don’t get married”? And how have these in-laws convinced themselves that the allergies of their loved one’s loved one must be fake? (Read Polly’s response here—it’s very wise and explains how families can gaslight each other into oblivion.)

Lastly, there is this one, in which it is the husband whose allergies were not believed:

I can believe it. My husband is anaphylatic to most pet dander, and severely allergic to dairy. We attended a xmas at my sister's new apartment, which we were told was pet-free. I got to listen to my younger sister taunt my husband by offering him CHEESE periogies with SOURCREAM and CHEESE ON TOP. When he started complaining about having trouble breathing, she said he was faking, and taunted him to take his epi pen already.
A few minutes later, he did, and we went to the hospital. It was CHRISTMAS DAY. My parents called us at the hospital to asked if i was coming back to open presents.
I did not.
We later learned my younger sister had snuck her dog into her apartment the day prior, which is why he reacted to the dander.

My parents insist my husband's allergies are 'fake' and that he is .using them to control me'. I've shown them peer reviewed articles on how horse allergy exists (they don't believe me), and copies of my husband's allergy tests ("its all in his head" they told me). They still don't believe me.

I've barely spoken to them since.

So sadly yes, some people's family members really are assholes!

But at least you can enjoy dinner easy knowing that no one is safe from getting poisoned by their in-laws.

Bon appetit!

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Cady has been a writer and editor in Brooklyn for about 10 years. While her earlier career focused primarily on culture and music, her stories—both those she edited and those she wrote—over the last few years have tended to focus on environmentalism, reproductive rights, and feminist issues. She primarily contributes as a freelancer journalist on these subjects while pursuing her degrees. She held staff positions working in both print and online media, at Rolling Stone and Newsweek, and continued this work as a senior editor, first at Glamour until 2018, and then at Marie Claire magazine. She received her Master's in Environmental Conservation Education at New York University in 2021, and is now working toward her JF and Environmental Law Certificate at Elisabeth Haub School of Law in White Plains.