Kinder Surprise, also known as a Kinder Egg or, in the original Italian, Kinder Sorpresa (Kinder is the German word for "children", sorpresa is Italian for "surprise"), is a candy manufactured by Italian company Ferrero and invented by William Salice (1933–2016). Originally intended for children, it is also popular with adult collectors and has the form of a chocolate egg containing a small toy, usually requiring assembly.
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Each Kinder Surprise egg consists of a chocolate shell, a plastic container, the contents of said container, and an external foil wrap. The chocolate shell is shaped like a chicken's egg. It is only about 2 millimeters thick, and consists of two layers: a milk chocolate layer on the outside, and a white chocolate layer on the inside. The shell is made of two identical halves, which are lightly fused together just before the egg is wrapped, to prevent the halves from coming apart under the light pressures expected during transportation.
During the egg's production, before the halves are fused together, the plastic capsule containing the toy is placed inside. This capsule is made from thin, flexible plastic, and is often yolk-yellow. The capsule is made of two non-symmetrical, overlapping pieces: its bottom piece is almost as long as the entire capsule, and has two ridges protruding along its outer rim; the top piece is about half as long as the entire capsule, and has two corresponding ridges along its inner rim. When the pieces are pushed together, the ridges interlock and do not come apart without manual manipulation. To separate the two pieces, it is often necessary to apply pressure to the interlocking region at its opposite ends, bending it and causing the ridges to separate inside so that the halves can be pulled apart. Once the capsule is opened it can be re-closed effortlessly by pushing the two pieces back together.
The plastic capsule contains the toy itself (either in a single piece or in several pieces requiring assembly) and at least two pieces of paper. One paper lists the "choking hazard" warnings in multiple languages. The other paper shows assembly instructions for the toy and a picture of the assembled toy (if applicable), and/or an illustration of all toys belonging to the same line as the one contained within this particular capsule. Many capsules also include a small page of adhesive decals that may be placed on the assembled toy after construction.
Once the egg is assembled in the factory, it is wrapped in a thin metal foil bearing the Kinder Surprise brand name and various production details. The eggs are then sold, either individually or in a boxed set of 3 eggs, or in some cases in a tray of 24 eggs.
Assembly of the toys requires no additional tools, as the pieces will simply lock ("snap") together. Assembly rarely takes more than a few simple steps. Most toys can be disassembled and reassembled freely, while a few cannot be disassembled without causing permanent damage. Over the years, Ferrero have also created a variety of no-assembly toys, whether more complex toys that can be used immediately or simple character statuettes made of a single, pre-painted piece of hard plastic.
During the 2000s, Ferrero redesigned the Kinder Egg's internal plastic capsule. The new design is visually and functionally similar to that of the original capsule, but it now consists only of a single piece of plastic with a hinge on one side. The size and specific design of each half of the capsule have also been slightly altered accordingly.
Kinder Surprise originated in 1974 in Italy as Kinder Sorpresa.
The toys are designed by both inside designers and external freelancers (for example the French artist André Roche based in Munich) and manufactured by many companies worldwide, such as Produzioni Editoriali Aprile, a small company based in Turin, Italy, run and founded by two brothers, Ruggero and Valerio Aprile.
Kinder Eggs are sold all over the world, including the United States, where they are sometimes sold in European markets and Russian deli stores, despite a ban on their importation.
In Europe they have become a minor cult phenomenon among adults. There is even a thriving collector's market for the toys. There are many types of toys available, but some of the most popular with collectors include an ever-changing series of small hand-painted figures (some have to be assembled); cartoon characters; metal figures; and jigsaw puzzles. Seasonal eggs are introduced around the holidays, such as the limited-edition creche collections (featuring such characters as the three kings, baby Jesus, and assorted barnyard animals) found around Christmas, and the huge ones found at Easter (extremely popular in Italy).
A relatively new innovation, triggered by the advent of the Internet, is the introduction of "Internet surprises". Accompanying the toy is a small slip of paper containing a "Magicode". This code gives access to games at the Magic Kinder website, some for downloading, some for playing online. A second revision of the code replaced the Magicode with a QR-like version. This was later discontinued sometime in 2015 and replaced with a QR code for the Magic Kinder website.
Classification and identification
Classifying and identifying Kinder Surprise toys is a rather complex exercise. There are several different lines, and a number of different numbering systems have been used over the years. Until the 1990s, the toys were seldom numbered at all, which can make identification difficult (although some early toys, especially hand-painted figurines, have a Ferrero mark). Kinder history can be broadly split into two periods: pre-2004 and post-2004. The pre-2004 toys were made by Ferrero. But in 2004, a Luxembourg-based company called MPG (which stands for Magic Production Group) took over toy production, although Ferrero continues to make Kinder Surprise chocolate.
In recent years, there have also been reproductions of older toys, which Kinder collectors frequently refer to as "recasts". These "recasts" first appeared in Poland, but soon spread to other Central European countries and eventually to Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia and New Zealand. They have very similar papers to the original releases, but the numbering is slightly different. For example, a "recast" of K93 No. 81 is simply numbered "No. 81". Both the toys and papers have this altered numbering. Recasts are not very popular with collectors, but they are nevertheless sought after by completists.
Limited editions and variations
In addition to the regular collectible toys, Kinder Surprise series generally contain special limited-edition sets. These sets tend to vary greatly between countries, with many variations in toys, but more especially paper instructions, which tend to be unique to the specific countries in which the sets are released. Some sets are released in many countries, while others are only issued in one or two.
Hand-painted figurines are solid toys that generally do not require assembly. They are for younger children, but older people have been known to keep and collect the Kinder Egg Surprise toys. They are very popular with collectors. They can be broadly divided into two types: animal themes and cartoon characters. The earliest sets were released only in Germany and Italy, but after about 1993, they were released in many different countries. There have been many sets of metal figurines, the majority of them being soldiers, issued since late 1970.
Other known editions includes a mascot of Kinder Surprise (Kinderrino) which contains 7 eggs inside, an advent calendar and a pack of 5 of 5 airplanes, plus some of the variations include:
- Kinder Surprise Maxi is a larger variation of the Kinder Surprise which includes larger toys.
- Kinder Joy has a similar external shape to the Kinder Surprise, but is internally divided into two halves. One half contains milky cream and cocoa cream, with two crispy wafer-balls, and the other half contains a small toy. This can be found in countries which are in tropical climate (as well as in some parts of Europe), due to the fact that importing Kinder Surprise eggs to those countries will melt.
In 2000, the parents of three children in the UK who had died after choking on toys inside edible eggs, campaigned for the products to be withdrawn from the European Union. Three 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 UK House of Commons and also by the UK 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 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".
In 2013, a law passed under president Sebastian Pinera in Chile banned commercials aimed at children under 14 years and all the gifts that come with the products, such as toys, children's film figurines, water-activated tattoos, plates, silverware, and other incentives to favor purchase, including Kinder Surprise.
- "È morto William Salice, l'uomo che inventò l'ovetto Kinder". La Stampa (in Italian). December 30, 2016.
- The Kinder Story
- "Import Alert 34-02". www.accessdata.fda.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-08.
- RECAST Toys 2000/2001 list!
- Kinder Joy Product Information
- Parents hit out at EU over tiny deadly toys. Emma Brady, The Birmingham Post (England), Sep 12, 2000
- Mother calls for ban after girl chokes on Kinder egg. published 1998 in the Birmingham Post (archived at TheFreeLibrary.com)
- Three-year-old French girl chokes to death on a Kinder Egg toy; Firefighters managed to resuscitate the child before she succumbs to brain damage caused by the lack of oxygen, Kate Ng, Independent, 21 January 2016
- UK House of Commons Sitting of 16 July 1985 – Confectionery
- UK House of Commons Oral Answers to Questions – Trade and Industry – 6 December 1989
- UK House of Commons Written Answers to Questions – Trade and Industry – 9 November 1989
- UK Department of Trade and Industry Press Notice – 14 August 1985
- 21 U.S.C. § 342 in combination with 21 U.S.C. § 331
- New York Times, “Giants in Candy Waging Battle Over a Tiny Toy”, 9/28/97
- CPSC Office of Information & Public Affairs, Release #97-172, August 18, 1997, “Kreiner Recall”[dead link]
- Lynn, Jamie. "Seattle men busted at the border with illegal candy". KOMO News. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- FDA Import Alert 34-02 fda.gov
- Kinder Surprise Packaging Warning labels
- In June the law take effect "SUPER 8": The popular chocolate bar will be "high in" calories, fat and sugar
- Sarah Schmidt (17 December 2009). "Kinder Surprises: Banned in the U.S.A.". Canwest News Service. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
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