After stopping at our first Canadian convenience store during a cross-continental road trip, my Canadian traveling buddy returned to the car bearing an egg-shaped gift. “Finally, you can try one of these,” he beamed.
The egg was a Ferrero Kinder Surprise, which as it turns out, is way cooler in Canada than Cadburry Eggs. In fact, they’re so popular that they’re the only egg-shaped candy I’ve seen that’s around all year.
So I bit into my egg, and immediately choked on the incredibly dangerous tiny toy inside.
The thin chocolate shell melted all over my hands, and I quickly stuffed the shell pieces into my mouth as I tore into the plastic packaging of the not-all-that-deadly toy that had just hatched from my egg. I attached its wheels to my new little red truck and proceeded to do what any reasonable adult would do with a new toy car: I flung it across the dash as fast as I could.
The Ban on Kinder Surprise
Yes, small parts are a serious choking hazard for kids. We all know that. But does that mean that toys ensconced in chocolate should be illegal? The 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act thought so. The law is still in effect, which means if I were to accidentally smuggle a Canadian Kinder Surprise into The States, I could face a fine of $2,500.
Last December, Kinder Surprise lovers took to the White House website with a petition to end the ban, but it didn’t receive the required signatures. I guess Americans just don’t know what they’ve been missing.
Just to give a little food for thought, to date six choking deaths have been attributed to Kinder Surprise toys while over 2,000 kids are brought to the emergency room each year because they were choking on (totally legal) hard candy.
That’s not to say that those six deaths aren’t tragic, but it seems a little silly to ban an otherwise innocuous candy while allowing another much more dangerous one to fill Christmas stockings willy-nilly.
Choco Surprise and Yowie
To get around the ban, which specifically outlaws “non-nutritive items” inside confections, The Candy Treasure confectionery in New Jersey created a surprise egg called Choco Treasure featuring a chocolate shell that didn’t completely enclose the toy. Rather, the two halves of the egg are interrupted by a seam of plastic. To make it even safer, the toy isn’t released from the plastic capsule until the child presses on a “bulls-eye” button.
Candy Treasure has been enjoying Choco Treasure’s success for a few months on the shelves of retailers like Target, but the honeymoon is over. As it turns out, Choco Treasure’s competitor, Yowie, filed a patent for a toy-enclosed capsule with that plastic seam separating the egg halves in 2011. Oopsie. Now, Choco Treasure is facing a patent infringement suit in Yowie’s home state of California.
None of this would have happened if we would have just let Canadians smuggle Kinder Surprises over the border in peace. Didn’t we learn anything from Prohibition?
For what it’s worth, Choco Surprise does have one thing Kinder Surprise doesn’t have: Spider-Man.
You better go snatch up all those Spidey eggs before the court decides the verdict. If you ever find yourself in The Great White North (or any of the other countries that carry Kinder Surprise), make sure to keep your eyes peeled for some equally cool licensed limited edition Kinder Surprise eggs with toys from brands like Pixar and Sanrio.