Ferrero Kinder Überraschung (“Kinder Surprise”) chocolate eggs are, I just recently learned, verboten in the United States. In fact, according to this ORF article (g), border authorities can slap you with a $2,500 fine per chocolate egg (!) if you try to smuggle them into the country.
So what’s in these dangerous, forbidden eggs, you might ask. Absynthe? Cuban products? Socialism?
No, what’s in these perfectly
mediocre (not mediocre, just unexceptional) foil-wrapped, chocolate-covered plastic eggs is a toy. And therein lies the problem — the toys are specified for children older than 3 years, and it has been determined by the U.S. that small children might eat the plastic pieces. By coincidence I was given one of these eggs last night*, and can dissect one for you. A little plastic penguin, a paper with a few facts about penguins (where they come live, height and weight, and their scientific name, “Pygoscelis adeliae”, which is a hell of a lot more than you’d learn from a Happy Meal, one suspects.) Also a slip of paper with parental guidance warnings in, I kid you not, 37 languages.
Now, I once brought — smuggled, apparently! — one of these eggs for my niece when she was around 8, and was surprised to find that the plastic capsule contained parts and instructions to assemble a tiny mountain bike with moving wheels. So sure, you don’t want babies putting these things in their mouths. On the other hand, one never hears of babies choking to death on them over here, so what’s up with that? Is it really just America’s litigious society or are we Americans really that unobservant? Do European parents watch over their young children more vigilantly? Or just not give these eggs to anybody under 4, as recommended?
An American food company has now found a way around the U.S. laws, namely by labeling the toys as “for all ages”. I wonder what the differences are, if any.
* It was an opening-night offering for “The Cunning Little Vixen”; my character keeps the Chickens who get slaughtered by the Vixen, and so (Easter being so close) there were lots of chocolate eggs given out.