Kinder Surprise, also known as Kinder Egg or Ovetto Kinder (ovetto means small egg in Italian) or Kinder Surprise Egg, is a candy manufactured by the Italian company Ferrero since 1974. It was co-created by Michele Ferrero and William Salice, and is one of several candies sold under the Kinder brand. Each chocolate egg surrounds a plastic capsule that contains a small toy. Kinder Surprise was originally created with children in mind, replicating an Italian Easter family tradition in which adults give children large chocolate eggs with a toy inside. However, Kinder Surprise toys have become collectible for adults as well. Since 1974, 30 billion Kinder Surprise eggs have been sold worldwide.
Kinder Surprise is a hollow milk chocolate egg, lined with a layer of sweet milk-flavored cream. Inside each egg is a plastic capsule that contains a small surprise toy, which sometimes requires assembly. The capsule case is yellow, reportedly to resemble an egg's yolk. The chocolates have foil packaging with warning labels advising parents to avoid giving the eggs to children under three years old, and encouraging supervision during consumption.
Kinder Surprise was originally created with children in mind, replicating an Italian Easter family tradition in which adults give children a large chocolate egg with a toy inside. However, Kinder Surprise toys have become collectible for adults as well. Collectors often try to acquire all toys within a themed set. Some even share their egg openings on social media, or create their own toys and re-wrap them in Kinder Surprise packaging. More than 100 new toys are distributed each year. Around 12,000 different toys had been included within Kinder Surprise as of 2016.
In 1968, Michele Ferrero raised the idea with his employees of a product that could be given to children so they could have a little "surprise" every day, based on the Italian tradition of large chocolate eggs given to children by their parents at Easter. Ferrero said that at first his attempt to follow through this idea was unsuccessful after employees questioned the order he placed for a machine to make the chocolate eggs. They thought it would not be profitable, since eggs are only for Easter. Ferrero also said that he wanted the product to have a higher milk content and make that a key part of its promotion; he felt that mothers would respond well to the idea of giving their children more milk. Ferrero commissioned William Salice to realize the concept.
Collections and promotion
The toys within Kinder Surprise have been themed for various popular children's characters. Collections of Kinder Surprise toys have included Asterix, Fantasmini, Smurfs, and Minions. Ferrero and Kinder have also partnered with various companies, institutions, and people to promote Kinder Surprise, including The Walt Disney Company, Universal, and Smart.
In 2000, three families who had lost children to choking on toys inside edible eggs campaigned for the products to be withdrawn from the European Union. Ten children worldwide have died from choking on parts of the Kinder toy surprises after they had eaten the chocolate egg; another was attributed to another manufacturer’s product.
Defenders of the chocolates said that these had been unfortunate fatalities. This was discussed in the House of Commons and also by the Department of Trade and Industry which said, "The child’s tragic death was caused by the ingestion of a small part of the egg’s contents. Many other products and toys with small parts are available in the market place. If we were to start banning every product that could be swallowed by a child, there would be very few toys left in the market”.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits confectionery products which contain a “non-nutritive object”, unless the non-nutritive object has functional value. Essentially, the Act bans "the sale of any candy that has embedded in it a toy or trinket".
In 1997, the staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) examined and issued a recall for some Kinder Surprise illegally brought into the US with foreign labels. The staff determined that the toys within the eggs had small parts. The staff presumed that Kinder Surprise, being a chocolate product, was intended for children of all ages, including those under three years of age. On this basis, the staff took the position that Kinder Surprise was in violation of the small parts regulation and should be banned from importation into the US.
Kinder Surprise eggs are legal in Canada and Mexico, but are illegal to import into the US. In January 2011, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) threatened a Manitoba resident with a $300 (Canadian dollars) fine for carrying one egg across the US border into Minnesota. In June 2012, CBP held two Seattle men for two and a half hours after discovering six Kinder Surprise eggs in their car upon returning to the US from a trip to Vancouver. According to one of the men detained, a border guard quoted the potential fine as US $2,500 per egg.
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) re-issued their import alert stating “The embedded non-nutritive objects in these confectionery products may pose a public health risk as the consumer may unknowingly choke on the object”.
Kinder Surprise bears warnings advising the consumer that the toy is "not suitable for children under three years, due to the presence of small parts", and that "adult supervision is recommended".
Since 2017, Kinder Joy eggs (where a toy is not encased in chocolate shell) are sold in the United States, though Kinder Surprise eggs are still banned.
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A high proportion of those available in Italy contain Smurfs.
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- Kinder Surprise Packaging Warning labels
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