24 four hours later, it appeared the whole world knew about the debate over whether banning nuts and other nut products is the best way to protect school children with severe nut allergies. And much of the world had joined the debate.
Yahoo.com picked up the story on Friday, Sept. 14, and expanded on it, detailing the dangers of nut allergies and discussing the problems that allergic children and their parents face, trying to live normal lives with the threat of anaphylactic shock hanging over them. In four days, Yahoo had attracted 17,261 comments.
A Google of "Viola Elementary Nut Ban" on Monday, Sept. 17 produced pages and pages of stories, commentaries and discussion forums touched off by our story on the local debate.
"Who knew a PB&J (peanut butter and jelly) ban at an Arkansas school would cause so much controversy?" a story on The Inquisitr.com asked.
"A PB&J ban at an Arkansas school is rilling up controversy, both at the school and on the internet. People have been divided on the issue of health versus common sense. Do you think the PB&J ban is fair?" the International Business Times asked, seeking comments.
The national website, Catholic Answers Forum has established a discussion page to inform people and let them comment.
"What is your school's policy on peanut butter?" Cafemom.com is asking its readers.
Dr. Wilda.com, blogspots.com and Big Big Forums.com are among other websites explaining Viola parents' questions about the elementary school's nut ban, and using it as a forum to inform and discuss.
One website, Attack the System.com., is using the Viola debate to air its anarchist views, that government control and over-reaction is out of control.
"In the peanut sized town of Viola, Arkansas, a teacher confiscates a boy's PB&J sandwich as if it was a hand grenade...The humble peanut has become political. Now it is a "hate food," the website rants.
One resourceful company used the Viola Elementary story to score a lead story on the Bloomberg Business Week website.
"WOWBUTTER Is a Simple Solution to School Peanut Butter Bans," the headline reads.
"Recent controversy at a school in Viola, Arkansas has ignited a heated debate over the necessity of peanut bans in schools and how to manage them without controversy," the story begins.
WOWBUTTER is described in the story, by its manufacturer, as "the only kid taste tested and approved perfect peanut butter replacement for school lunches. WOWBUTTER is bridging the gap between allergic and non-allergic students in order to provide a healthier, safer, more united and happier school environment for all!"
The company doesn't say what's in it, but claims it has the taste and texture just like peanut butter...and tastes and smells like peanut butter...but passes the "peanut free school lunches" test.
The company president says WOWBUTTER has sent free samples and information to thousands of schools.
Maybe it should sent a few cases to Viola Elementary for all of the free advertising the school has provided.
The Viola School Nut Ban Discussion page established on Facebook before all the hoopla, had 46 comments, mostly from Viola area residents on Sept. 6. It had 231 comments as of Sept. 17, many from all over the U.S., and many not appreciated, since they, according to the site, include "profanity and name calling."
The discussion administrator has served notice improper comments will be removed, and their senders will be banned from the page.
"Before the story went viral on Yahoo...we didn't have this problem," the administrator writes, adding if improper comments continue the Facebook discussion page may be taken down. (See story on the latest on the Viola nut ban on page **.)