Outrage of the Nanosecond: Stop That Egg!

Hi Readers — Just because it’s an outrage kind of day, here’s another: A woman was detained at the Canadian border because she was bringing in a Kinder Surprise Egg. You know — the chocolate candy with a prize inside. The problem? That prize presents a choking hazard!

The BIGGER problem? A law equating candy with crystal meth! Of COURSE there is a prize inside. That is why people BUY them.  The adults know it’s there. The KIDS know it’s there. That is why the word “KINDER” as in “KINDERGARTEN” is featured rather prominently in the candy’s name. What next? A ban on Cracker Jacks? After all, kids COULD think the prize was a piece of popcorn!

Anyway, I automatically knew I’d love this story because it uses the word “kerfuffle” in the first graph. So here it is! Have a kerfuffle-free day! L.

63 Responses

  1. You joke about Cracker Jack, but it’s a wonder it’s still being sold– it IS still being sold, right?? What with there being popcorn AND peanuts in it (both choking hazards) and peanuts being an allergen and all. Couple that with a toy prize (made, no doubt, in China)…

    Kerfluffle IS a great word… I’m going to start working that in to conversations more.

  2. Lenore – I was going to send this to you, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. The same thing happened to me a couple years ago when my ex-husband was driving myself and my son across the border (Canada to the US) to catch a flight back to Denver, and the border guard confiscated my son’s Kinder Egg out of the car while we were stopped and told to go inside to get some immigration paperwork stamped. I thought it was a joke, but nope – not a joke. My son (then 5) was *so* upset that they took the treat that he got for the plane ride.

    What a ridiculous rule. If they *really* want to ban things that kids can choke on, they should ban grapes! or hot dogs! Seriously dangerous foods… Every kid (3+, according to the packaging) knows that there’s a toy in there. What a waste of bureaucracy!

  3. Quoting the article: “The U.S. takes catching illegal Kinder candy seriously, judging by the number of them they’ve confiscated in the last year. Officials said they’ve seized more than 25,000 of the treats in 2,000 separate seizures.”
    Maybe I’m a tad bit cynical here, but it appears to me that the resources use in preventing “kinder-egg- related-deaths”, if spent differently, probably could havebeen put to better use.
    But that may just be me too fond of stirring up a kerfuffle (a word frequently used in my household, believe it or not)

  4. Would it be appropriate to tell them to go suck (Kinder Surprise) eggs? Maybe then they’d realize it’s not so much a choking hazard.

  5. Stories like this make me so embarrassed for the US. To the point of humiliation. The state of this nation is getting worse and worse. I’m moving back to Canada. Seriously. lol

  6. My guess is that boarder guards just have a particular affinity for the treats.

    I remember in Mexico once I bought a “kinder sorpresa”. It had a little model of a smurf and a soccer ball. Definitely a choking hazard. Good thing I was in high school and over the age of choking to death on toys!

  7. flipping ridiculous.

    I was thinking of bringing some down on a trip for some adult friends to enjoy. I might pack them in my checked bag, with a big ol note “These are going to be given to adults to consume under the supervision of one kinder egg eating specialist. No children will be present, or watching. I assume all responsibility for choking incidents, and here are the waivers my friends shall sign.”

    And then if they confiscate it out of my luggage, well, hey, I couldn’t have made it clearer. Might even include diagrams.

    For what its worth, I don’t think I’ve heard of any kid in recent years, er, ever, choking on one. Its pretty clear what’s edible and what is not.

    Somehow every other country manages to not take candy from kids.

    ( and hey, I have an awesome collection of superheros now on my desk. Kinder eggs on post-christmas clearance!)

  8. Ban pennies, because my kids have surely swallowed alot more of these than some prize inside a chocolate egg…how about putting that much effort into seizing drugs at the border..

  9. I love my kinder surprises. there are wars between my 3 kids who have been eating them since… well… forever and Not One Of Them Have Choked On A Kinder Surprise!

    gez. steal candies from babes…

  10. Come to think of it, I’m looking at my little superheros ( justice league kinder eggs!) and I’m not sure an adult could swallow one, never mind a kid. even broken down to the component pieces, the worst might be swallowing the paper assembly instructions.

    Maybe at a stretch I could try swallowing Superman’s cape, but I don’t see how a kid could do it.

    Now i’m sitting here wondering which one I can swallow.

  11. We were told here that the reason for this is that someone in the US sued the Kinder company because their child choked on the toy. The parents won, so the German company that makes them refuses to sell then to the US. It also made it where you are not supposed to take them into the US.

  12. To bad the customs agents are misinformed… The warning label on them takes care of the choking hazard part. They are illegal in the US because of a provision in the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits embedding “nonnutritive items” in confections.

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lenore Skenazy and Stephanie. Stephanie said: Outrage of the Nanosecond: Stop That Egg!: Hi Readers — Just because it’s an outrage kind of day, here’s another… http://bit.ly/gKtphc […]

  14. @Becky- It was suggested by some pediatricians last year that hot dogs be redesigned, as they present a choking hazard. Somehow, these pediatricians were unaware that we already have choke-proof hot dogs. They are called baloney.

    Also baloney? The idea that no child could possibly understand the difference between candy and a toy. (See what I did there?)

  15. ARRRHG!

    I became addicted to Kinder Eggs (the toys, not the chocolate – though that somehow grows on you), when I went to Germany when I was a teen. (For time reference, think “sometime around the opening of the Wall”.)

    Honestly, some of the stuff I have from Kinder Eggs always made me think “Wow – Germans obviously treat their children as way more intelligent than we do.” My cousins (who lived over there for a time) and I used to joke about almost being smart enough for some of the assembly instructions… and remember, we were *teens*. (Though more recent eggs seems to have much simpler thing in them than we got back then. That is sad.)

    One of my great joys (because, hey, it’s the little things) was discovering that Kinder Eggs were widely available in Turkey, where my mother spends most of the year. Dammit… I now have to inform her that my “wishlist” is really an illegal smuggling operation. Since they seemed to be cheaper there than even in Germany, I was even planning on having her send enough for me to share with the kiddo.

  16. What makes this really ridiculous is that you CAN buy Kinder eggs in the USA, in stores that specialize in foreign products.

  17. My favorite comedian, Steven Wright, known for his deadpan one-liners, has a joke that sort of fits this situation. There’s nothing funny about this, granted, but sometimes you just got to laugh.

    The joke he tells, I’m quoting approximately: “when I came back into the US from Canadan they asked me at the border if I had any firearms–I said “what do you need?”

    Ha ha.

    LRH
    Blackberry Bold 9000

  18. @Rich – really?
    What kind of stores, specifically??? Heh. We have a variety of “foreign product” shops here (I refer to this as the strip mall version of EPCOT), but I have not seen them anywhere. Details would be *fabulous*, as locating a place here would mean no shipping fees.

  19. I found some kinder eggs in a candy store on Cape Cod this summer. It made my entire summer.

  20. When exactly did they stop selling these in the US? The store around the corner from where I lived in CA had these about a year and a half ago when we moved away from there. I don’t want the store to get in trouble for having contraband – they were the nicest people around, and actually carried stuff like barley…something that everyone else in the supermarkets thought I was crazy when I asked for it.

  21. Kerfuffle, indeed! The woman who suffered through this perverse inanity should have had a full-blown conniption right then and there, creating a maelstrom of mayhem, impressing upon the blithering, bloviating idiots what balderdash this whole steaming pile of repulsive regulations really is! Let an outright brouhaha ensue!

    There. Got to use all my faves in one post: conniption, maelstrom, mayhem, blithering, bloviating, balderdash and brouhaha. Kerfuffle is now added to my list.

  22. I was reading about this a couple of years ago, and from what I read they have *never* been LEGALLY available for sale in the USA. Any store that is importing/selling them is doing so in contravention of the law, though I read that some stores featuring imports do sell them. Probably until they get caught…! 😉

    We often drive into Montana from Calgary over Easter, and I always buy the Easter Bunny treats before we go to hide in our hotel room so I don’t have to worry about buying them once we get there.

    Last year, all unthinking (because I was already aware of the ban), I bought the Kinder Easter Bunny kit. Three days before we were to leave I was lying in bed and suddenly thought, “Hey! We can’t bring those!”

    Went back to the store, and got something else!

  23. Now that I think of it, I bet our guys up there at the north boarder are just bored silly and wish that things would be more exciting, like down south!

  24. Sheesh. I’m crossing the border all the time and have never had a problem getting my Kindereggs across. Weird, coz I always bring a few to give to (yes!) the 3+ girls in the family that takes care of my cats and such when I’m gone. Now I’m going to look all guilty and for SURE they’ll do a thorough search!!

  25. If she ate the chocolate egg and then assembled the toy, would it still be confiscated? Or are they actually concerned that a small child will bite thru the chocolate and swallow the plastic egg and/or toy in one go? Ugghh..so ridiculous!

  26. A friend from Italy sent my children Kinder Egg for Easter last year in the mail. The toys in the eggs were fabulous and an equivalent to what a child might get in a Happy Meal – only better! The chocolate was fabuluos, too. Since we live on the US/Mexico border, I sent her the article from our local paper reminding residents to not and try to bring them in from Mexico. I don’t think it has anything to do with choking but everything to do with a candy lobby!

  27. ARGRGERGREGRGERGREGRGERGERGERGRUGRGUHRHRUHTODTHDTUHDOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    There is not much more of this sort of insane news I can take.

    Anyone defending the US government’s actions in $300 fines for bringing a single chocolate egg should be put in a cage for 10 years!

    “Officials said they’ve seized more than 25,000 of the treats in 2,000 separate seizures.”

    ARGGGGGGGGG!!!! Waste of my taxpayer money doing this nonsense arge arg erga rgerag entandeand.

    (arg)

  28. This is hilarious! Yeah, I’ve seen them turn up (randomly, accidentally) at some of the ethnic shops around my hood. And, I totally agree that the guards just want a snack.

    two most common items to choke on: hot dogs and grapes.

    very silly

  29. Not the Cracker Jacks. What’s this world coming to?

    Have we gone mad?

  30. @KLY
    I could have sworn that the last time I looked into this I found a source that said that businesses that specialized in importing products not manufactured for sale in the US were exempt from certain consumer rules, and that was how ethnic delis and such could sell them. Now I can’t find that, but I have seen them for sale at both Indian and Russian grocery stores. What I don’t know is if they’re actually legal, or illegal and just not caught.

    Hm, a little more googling, and I think they’re not actually legal for sale in the US in any circumstances:

    http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2007/02/candy_racks_con.html

  31. A while ago I bought a bag of candy, bearing the image of scantly clad cartoon women on the front, for a now ex boyfriend who was in the military,. However, I couldn’t find him the Kinder Surprise that he wanted so badly. I see no one making that candy illegal though the characters on the front were wearing less than Bratz dolls and were at a kids’ eye level on the shelves. Yet there’s this fear of chocking from the Kinder Surprise toys despite toys being put in other food items like Cracker Jacks and cereal boxes.

  32. I laughed right out loud when I read the CBC article.

  33. So this is the deal. Someone at the FDA is actually cracking down on the Kinder Surprise scourge, and sending out alerts on this hazardous item.

    See here: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_107.html

    The border patrol people are just doing what they’re told… the law needs to be changed. The law after all was written to protect consumers from adulterated food from unscrupulous manufacturere, not to protect consumers from themselves. The law needs to be rewritten.

    Reading all the various blogs and comments on the web, I can’t find any one that is in support of this ridiculous law. It seems that it should not be hard to build up a movement to make Kinder Surprises legal in this country!

    btw, if you are caught with an egg at the border, quickly break off the chocolate. Once the toy is out of the chocolate, it is perfectly legal to import the chocolate, and the toy too I assume.

  34. you cant buy kinder surprise in the USA? lol. My kids love them in australia but I dont like to buy them for my kids because they cost almost $2. I said you just like it for the toy not for the chocolate and the toys are crap.. lol lol

    I cant see how someone can choke on them as the chocolate surrounds a plastic egg thing. the toy is inside that. How does a kid choke on the toy? I mean I know its possible little kids can choke on anything.. first I have ever heard of this.

    How fun.

    Im off to post some kinder surprises to my US friends.

  35. Rumor has it that there’s a German deli in the Portland, OR area that sells kinder surprise eggs.

    Note to law enforcement: do not click the above link.

    — Steve

  36. Well, the good part about this story, however, is that I learned a new word — kerfuffle is an awesome word!

    For the rest of the story… uh well. Every egg also contains the information that the price might be choking hazard and not to give it to kids under the age of three (yeah, right… I don’t think _that_ would have gone well with my toddlers, ;-)). Anyway, these eggs are part of our culture here in Europe, there is no life without them, *lol*.

    So long,
    Corinna

  37. I have lived in Germany for many years and my family has always enjoyed the surprise eggs. Whevever I’d go to the States, I always brought surprise eggs for friends and family. They were a big hit. Wow, I never realized that I was a criminal for bringing them into the States. Put me in handcuffs and throw away the key! I decided that the world’s best engineers aren’t the ones who design bridges or buildings. The best engineers are the people who can fit all of those little parts into the yellow capsule in the egg’s center.

    If we’re going to ban foods that are choking hazards or otherwise dangerous, let’s not stop at chocolate eggs. Many people already mentioned hot dogs and grapes. Cracker Jack should be banned, not because it and the toy are choking hazards, but because the prize is lame compared to when I was a kid. Here are other foods that should be banned:

    Peanuts: choking hazard and some people are allergic to them.
    Carrots: Can be used as a weapon (little boys love to pretend that they’re guns or swords) and are also a choking hazard.
    Popcorn: choking hazard.
    Melons, oranges, clementines, apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries: Seeds can be a choking hazard. Cherries can also be a choking hazard by themselves.
    Dairy products: Some people are lactose intolerant. Therefore dairy products should be banned.
    Chocolate: Some people are allergic to chocolate; therefore it should be banned. The same goes for strawberries and shellfish.
    Gummi Bears: choking hazard
    Chewing gum: choking hazard

    I guess the only things we’ll be able to have are bread and water. But wait…people with celiac disease can’t have bread because it contains gluten. Ban it! And something hazardous could be in the water. Ban it to be safe.

  38. “They are illegal in the US because of a provision in the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits embedding “nonnutritive items” in confections.”
    Then how is it Cracker Jack & Happy Meals survived? I smell protectionism.

    When I was a kid, the toys inside the Kinder Surprise Eggs were elaborate models with moving parts. I sincerely hope that hasn’t changed.

    If a kid can get the egg open, she’s smart enough not to choke on the toy. Those are harder to crack than the shrinkwrap on a cd case!

  39. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_107.html

    Hey, that’s great, the FDA has a total BAN on food items containing any “non-nutritive object”.

    Here’s a list of non-nutritive objects I want them to start impartially enforcing this on:

    – artificial flavors
    – artificial colors
    – MSG
    – preservatives

  40. And lollipops, the stick is definitely embedded in the candy. That’s banned under this rule as well.

  41. Another ignorant American expat here, who’s been blithely schlepping Kinder surprise egg contraband over from Germany into the US for years.

    Funny enough though, Kinder eggs played the starting role in the crystallizing moment years ago when I realized something was very wrong with the state of childhood in the US these days. I’ll explain.

    I used to bring the eggs home for my nieces and nephews every time I visited. Visiting sis’s family, giving the kids chocolate, including Kinder eggs, and her son (around 11 yrs old) says: Ya know what cousin B (bro’s kid, around 7/8 yrs old) said about these last time? He said (cue sarcastic voice) “Oh great idea sticking toys inside candy — Umm yummy chocolate let me eat it — omigod, I’m choking to death, someone stuck a toy in here” Ha ha. It was clear that my nephew was impressed with the younger cousin’s prowess on the safety front (and ability to dramatize safety concerns in comic form).

    Now it’s nothing new for the kiddies to think the adults they know (here, Aunt) are clueless. Being too clever by half is a rite of passage for a kid, and bless ’em for it. But for crying out loud, let it be about the latest music, or, computer games, or I don’t know what (since I’m clueless). But about Health and Safety matters?? Kids??! Well sigh AND yeck, if you know what I mean.

    I was “seized” alright, because of Kinder eggs, seized by sadness for kids today.

  42. This, incidentally, is why you cannot buy Kinder Surprise eggs in the USA.

  43. It’s amazing all of those little European and Canadian kids haven’t choked and died by now! Kinder egg surprises aren’t even as cool as they were 10 years ago though, with little or no moving/mechanical toys (ok in my limited exposure to illegally smuggled candy) so maybe the manufacturer is subtly responding to the threat their candy poses. That’s a relief!

  44. I have a friend who lives overseas and always brings the kids some of these when she visits. My oldest, who is 9, asked why we couldn’t get them here and I told him because supposedly you can choke on the toy. He looked at me like I was nuts and said, “How can you choke on this? It’s covered in another plastic egg and we know it’s in there.”

  45. As already posted above, it has nothing to do with choking, but rather with the Food and Drug Law. Intended as a good thing (you do want to go after manufacturers who have crumbling assembly lines and thus produce candy with small bits of metal/plastic whatever in them, for example), it has been written very broadly and can be a bad thing. I suppose if someone lobbied for a change to the law, it would be changed. But somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon in the current political climate. Though if food safety is reorganized completely (new law just passed), it may be possible to act then. But I doubt there will be enough political will. Not enough Kinder Surprise lovers in the US for that.

    But I do know where you can buy them in New Jersey and New York City. Even though I have never liked them, I buy them every couple years, on a random craving.

  46. PS I wonder how the egg was “destroyed” by the border agents. Not sure whether the law mandates incineration, or they just ate it.🙂

  47. We’ve got a cute little store with ‘foods from around the world’ about 30 miles north of pittsburgh that sells Kinder Eggs. I hope they don’t crack down on that store; it’s one of the only places you can still buy penny candy!
    My sister in law loves Kinder Eggs and buys one for each of my kids each year.

  48. The toy in Cracker Jacks is now made out of paper. I don’t know if it’s for cost reasons or FDA reasons.

  49. Cracker Jack does not have prizes anymore. Well, a little piece of paper with a ‘joke’, and I think some stickers, but there are no toys in cracker jack anymore…

  50. ha ha, Robin, we both had the same thought at the same time!… 🙂

  51. Just one more reason why I despise poorly written laws. I’m sure when it was written it was with the intent to protect consumers from badly manufactured candy, but then fifty years later, taken completely out of context, the law is applied to a situation that a “reasonable person” could not possibly view as dangerous. If even a nine year old can see that there is no danger posed by the candy, why is it so difficult for our lawmakers? How about a ban on idiocy in lawmaking? That actually sounds like a combination we are choking on.

  52. […] in many other countries but deemed an illicit choking hazard here. They’re back in the news [Lenore Skenazy, Katherine Mangu-Ward] with the key paragraph in the CBC’s report indicating how very […]

  53. They should have given her the option of stepping a few feet away and eating the chocolate. Hardly worth their time and paperwork over a $2 item.

  54. That is absolutley F-in ridiculous! I have brought back those eggs from Germany before and no one said a word! Why can’t an adult, who is likely going to eat the candy herself have it? These people are insane! I so want to scream right now!

  55. @Rich- Yes you can. There are two German delis in my town and both sell Kinder Eggs, or did that last time I was there a few weeks ago.

  56. BTW, there is an informal facebook group that is gathering to legalize Kinder Eggs.

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=360619371551

  57. My sister in law lives in Germany and she has always loved to send KinderEggs home to her US family (and we love to receive them!). Three years ago she sent me two big boxes of clothes from her granddaughter to my daughter. Mysteriously, only one appeared on my doorstep. I figured the other box was lost. Imagine my surprise when two weeks later the second box arrived and ,when I opened it, right on top was a letter from the government stating that my box had been searched and the contraband removed. Of course, that awful, illegal stuff that my sister-in-law was sending was a 12-pack of KinderEggs to my kids! I was amazed and in shock…we have drugs coming into this country EVERY DAY, but let’s be sure no KINDEREGGS make it!

  58. Equating candy eggs with crystal meth? Where you did you get that? (Don’t bother answering, I already know, you made it up without thinking it through.) The penalty for bringing a Kinder Egg over the border is $300, if they bother to fine you. (In my international travel experience, border guards usually just confiscate materials, they rarely actually levy the punitive fine.) If you think you can get away with a $300 slap on the wrist for smuggling crystal meth… well, let’s just say you won’t have a very long drug smuggling career.

  59. That is just so unbelievable! I live on a border state…just over an hour’s drive to Canada. We’ve had the forbidden kidder eggs and I will continue getting the forbidden kinder eggs!

    The USA has gone nutty!!!

  60. You’re telling me ALL OF CANADA is in danger from this woman’s Kinder Egg?
    *rolleyes*

  61. I remember a similar treat-egg (bigger, hollow, and softer chocolate) from when I was a kid. You bite off part of the chocolate (most kids picked the top) after you peeled back the foil, shook out whatever was inside, and you had chocolate, AND a toy/sticker/ect. to enjoy. They were the best. (Mind you, this was 1990 to 1998) So, they got taken off the market because… people thought kids would choke?

    I think the issue is that as Americans, we are too willing to tolerate negligent parenting and stupidity in some aspects, and try to lay an iron fisted rule in other aspects. Honestly, any inedible-treat containing snack is not meant for a kid under 5 years old. In fact, ask any doctor; chocolate isn’t really something you should give to any kid younger than that, at minimum. The minute amounts of caffeine are too much for a child’s system.

  62. I cannot believe that you cant buy Kinder Surprises in the states. I live in Canada and EVERY SINGLE STORE sells them, although they are a bit pricy at almost 2$ each. They even sell GIANT kinder surprises, identical to the small ones but super size, for Halloween and Easter!! I would love to see someone manage to swallow one of those plastic eggs!! It would be quite a challenge! They are confiscating kinder
    eggs while tons of drugs and other dangerous contraband make it over the boarder every single day. What a waste of time and resources.

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