One of the benefits of traveling abroad is that you have the opportunity to sample all sorts of delicious treats unique to the country you’re visiting. For some, this means you can—finally!—taste an infamous Kinder Egg. Why’s that so special, you ask? Because these delicious chocolate, toy-filled candies are actually banned in the United States!
Though the ban has long been the subject of popular theories and myths, people are finally learning the real reason this treat hasn’t been allowed inside the country since 1938… and it’s not why you think!
Sampling the delicacies of a foreign country is a great way to learn all about its culture. Sometimes these unique foods are so scrumptious that you wonder why they’re not sold in America. This is especially the case of one treat in particular: the Kinder Egg.
Practically every United States citizen traveling abroad who’s been able to get their hands on a Kinder Egg has undoubtedly been curious why the candy has never made it stateside… but now we know.
There’s actually a good reason why you won’t find them sold anywhere inside America: they’ve been banned in the country for decades! Now, at long last, we’re finally learning the true explanation why…
In case you’re unfamiliar with Kinder Eggs (also called Kinder Surprise), they’re hollow, egg-shaped chocolates that contain a small child’s toy in the center. Their milk-chocolatey taste and fun prize inside have made them popular with kids for nearly a century.
Though they’re available year-round overseas, Kinder Eggs—made by the Italian company Ferrero, which also produces Nutella—were initially produced in 1933 for sale as an Easter treat. Shortly thereafter, however, they were banned in the United States.
But why would such a delicious, fun, and popular treat be banned in a country that celebrates candy (and toys)? Well, the ban can be traced back to a law from 1938 known as the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which was signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt.
This legislation clearly stated that “confectionaries” cannot be sold in the United States. if they contain non-nutritive objects. That might sound like some legalese, but it actually means exactly what you’re thinking…
“Kinder Surprise is not available in the United States as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken the position that a specific regulation relating to non-nutritive objects embedded in food stuff,” a spokesperson for Ferrero explained. There is, however, a stipulation.
Food cannot be served with non-nutritive objects… unless the object serves a purpose for people to consume the food or confectionary. For instance, a popsicle stick is obviously legal, since it helps consumers to eat the popsicle.
For some, it makes sense that children could possibly choke on an unexpected toy in the center of a Kinder Egg. Yet, there’s one statistic about the famous candy that may surprise them…
No child has ever actually died while consuming a Kinder Egg. While a number of children have, sadly, passed away after choking on the toy inside, these incidents only occurred after the toys were removed from the candy packaging.
Despite the obvious hazard, Ferrero has long maintained that its ultimate goal is consumer safety. “The safety of its consumers, especially children, is and has always been Ferrero’s number one priority,” the company’s spokesperson explained.
It also takes several safety precautions to ensure such safety. “Ferrero is absolutely dedicated to providing the safest products possible, from product design to production to final use, going beyond regulatory requirements,” the company continued.
Despite the obvious dangers of the product, that hasn’t stopped people—specifically from the United States—from trying to bring the candy into the country. From eBay sales to smuggling them over the border, there’s nothing people won’t do to get their hands on the treat.
In fact, in 2011, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reportedly seized upwards of 60,000 Kinder Eggs from people attempting to bring them over the border! It’s such a common problem that the agency has had to make a concerted effort to stop it.
“Working together at the Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center, these partner agencies are able to coordinate and streamline federal efforts to address import safety issues, including the illegal importation of Kinder Eggs,” the Kinder spokesperson said.
Thanks to these extra efforts on the custom agency’s behalf, those caught attempting to smuggle Kinder Eggs into the United States will pay a hefty price. They’re fined up to a whopping $2,500—per egg!
The customs agency has been known to participate in some rather unusual punishments for Kinder Egg smugglers, too. On one occasion, a man named Joe Wos was reportedly forced to eat 20 Kinder Eggs in front of the officers.
Thankfully, as of 2017, Ferrero has released a safer version of its product that’s legal in the United States, called Kinder Joy. The egg is the same, but it’s separated with two individually wrapped plastic shells. One side contains the chocolate, while the other has the toy.
At the end of the day, the law banning Kinder Eggs in the United States only ever had consumers’ best intentions in mind. Thankfully, the company developed a safer method for consumption so we can enjoy those treats legally!
It’s really a win-win when you think about it. Now, children and adults alike can enjoy the sweet taste and fun of a Kinder Egg without having to risk their safety.
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