Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Matthew Sponheimer

Second Advisor

Steven Leigh

Third Advisor

Alex Fobes


Gluten, a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, can be dangerous if consumed by individuals with gluten-related disorders. I define the Gluten Craze as the widespread public fascination with the gluten-free diet as it is advertised in the media and in technology-based sources of information. The purpose of this research is to examine the origins, persistence, and impacts of the Gluten Craze in the U.S. and to understand the impacts of the craze in Boulder, Colorado through the tested safety of gluten-free restaurant foods.

The research included in this study concerning the Gluten Craze in the U.S. is based in literary analysis. Regarding the impacts in Boulder, the restaurant pizza and cookie samples were tested using a GlutenTox Pro kit, an immunochromatographic or lateral flow test, to detect the presence of the anti-gliadin 33-mer (or G12) antibody.

Of the 20 total samples tested, four (20%) contained above 5 ppm (parts per million) gluten and two (10%) contained over 20 ppm gluten. Two of 12 (16.7%) pizza samples, from the same restaurant, had over 5 ppm gluten and two of eight (25%) cookie samples, also both from the same restaurant, contained above 20 ppm gluten.

The American Gluten Craze has proven to be widespread, rapidly popularized, and persistent since its beginnings nearly a decade ago. It has had big impacts on celiacs and others with gluten-related disorders and in Boulder, the effects of the craze may be significant.