One of the favorite gifts of a German grandparent to their grandchild has to be Kinder Eggs, also known in the english-speaking parts of the world as Kinder Surprise, or Kinder Überraschung in Germany. Kids love to break apart (and eat a bit of) the chocolate egg to reveal a surprise toy hidden in a yellow plastic container. The toy variety can be a puzzle, a toy car, a Disney figurine, or a character of the Happy Hippos, who were THE hottest Kinder eggs toy in the 1990’s. My sister and I would stand in the supermarket, shaking egg after egg until we had one that did not rattle too much. Less rattle means less small pieces. We did not want to build a puzzle, we wanted a solid Happy Hippo figurine to play with!
While the word Kinder means children in German, this candy was not invented in Germany. Kinder Surprise originated in 1974 in Italy as Kinder Sorpresa, produced by the Ferrero company. If the name Ferrero does not ring a bell, they are better known for their amazing hazelnut spread Nutella, or their breath mint Tic Tac here in the United States.
Why Are Kinder Eggs Illegal to Import to the USA?
Kinder Surprise eggs are legal to buy and enjoy in Germany and Europe, however, they are deemed illegal in the United States. Why is that? We have to look back all the way to 1938 when the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted. It contains a passage stating that a “confectionery product with a non-nutritive object, partially or totally embedded within it cannot be sold within the United States, unless the FDA issues a regulation that the non-nutritive object has functional value”. This means that all candies embedded with “non-nutritive objects,” such as toys, are illegal in the United States. The main reason is that the toy inside could potentially present a choking hazard for kids.
Here's What You Should Bring Home Instead
So, the one thing you should not bring home from your German vacation is Kinder Surprise. Get caught with one of those candy eggs and you may face a fine up to $2,500 per egg. In 2010 alone, 25,000 Kinder Surprise eggs were seized in 1,700 incidents. Instead, grab the Kinder Happy Hippo Candy, which is one of our absolute favorites and fills our luggage on every trip back from Germany. Due to the popularity of the Happy Hippo figurines, Kinder created a candy around the characters. These are Denise's absolute favorite! But, even the cashier probably could figure that out.
Watch a commercial for a Kinder Surprise, to see how they're marketed
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