Whenever I go from Germany to the US, people ask me to pick up certain items and bring them with me. I’ve brought German beer and chocolate to the US. I’ve taken Abercrombie & Fitch sweatpants back to Germany. I try to fill the requests when I can, but on this trip, there’s one request that I had to refuse.
I was asked to bring Kinder Überraschung, also called Kinder Surprise Eggs. A Kinder Egg contains a layer of chocolate surrounding a layer of white chocolate, which contains a toy inside a small plastic chamber. The toys are often cross-marketed, so you might see a Barbie Kinder Egg one week, and a Star Wars Kinder Egg the next.
I had to say no, however, because they’re entirely illegal in the United States.
Kinder eggs have been illegal in the United States for 75 years, even though they’re only forty years old. (They were first made in Italy in 1973 as Kinder Sorpresa.) The fine for bringing in these black market chocolates can be as high as $2,500 per egg.
The reason for this illegality is the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which says that food sold in the United States cannot have an embedded non-food item. A sample alert that specifically covers the Kinder eggs says that “imbedded non-nutritive objects in these confectionary products may pose a public health risk as the consumer may unknowingly choke on the object.”
I’ve already misplaced the report which sourced this next detail, but United States Customs and Border Protection said that in 2011, they seized more than 60,000 Kinder Eggs from travelers’ baggage and from international mail shipments. That’s an awful lot of hot chocolate.
The long-standing illegality of Kinder Eggs has actually prompted a new product in the United States. The Choco-Treasure is almost exactly the same as a Kinder Egg, but the Choco-Treasure gets around the law by having a plastic seam visible on the egg. Since the non-food portions are not completely embedded in the chocolate, the new eggs aren’t illegal in the US. I haven’t tried a Choco-Treasure egg, but I suspect that comparing Choco-Treasure to Kinder Überraschung is a lot like comparing Mr. Pibb to Doctor Pepper- one is just a cheap imitation of the other.
11 thoughts on “Germany’s Most Dangerous Export: Kinder Surprise Eggs”
Which side of the Mr. Pibb / Dr Pepper debate do you come down on? I like them both, preferring Mr. Pibb where I can find it. And that is increasingly rare.
I’m actually a Pepper. I’ve always thought of Pibb as the poor man’s Dr. Pepper.
That being said, I don’t *dislike* Pibb, and I usually have that when I go to Tijuana Flats.
I know I’ve had the Kinder Surprise Eggs here and it wasn’t that long ago. The next time I am on Wilton Drive I will stop in the store where I ‘think’ we purchased them.
I’m not even keen on the Kinder Surprise chocolate… I only buy them for the toys!
I had Kinder eggs all through my childhood and managed to survive. Perhaps American children are more prone to choking? 😉
How do the authorities stand on Kinder Joys? The chocolate and the toy are separate in those…
Over here we get the eggs with the chocolate on one side and a toy on the other with plastic separating them both. Something about it being a warm climate so the original stuff would melt. My niece loves them (okay, I do too.)
HAhahaha WHAT! The US is so weird sometimes.
I had no idea I was transporting illegal contraband! Well actually we usually stuff our suitcases with Hanuta bars, Niederegger Marzipan, and whatever we pick up at duty free that seems cheap. Did you know that a bottle of Aperol in the states could go for as high as 30 dollars? CRAZY!
ah ha, I found the comments. Super awesome post. I had no idea that they were illegal!
This is a total newsflash, lol. I guess the Spanish Christmas cake, roscón de reyes, is also illegal, as it contains a little doll. Now THAT is a choking hazard.
Omg on both of my trips from Germany I brought kinderüberraschungs eier back with me. I had No idea they were banned in USA. Which is so weird Why would they ban it since the toy is separate from the chocolate and its parents duty to make sure the kids dont choke on the little toys. If your child is under 3 then just give them the chocolate without the toy. Anyway my son loves them he loves the chocolate and the toys inside. To bad we cant find them here in the US. I was eating them in germany as a child as well as an adult and I wish my son could have enjoyed eating them here in US as much as I did.
The Choco Treasure I noted above is perfectly legal in the US- if you try those, come back and tell me how they compare to the Kinder eggs!
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