Kinder Überraschungen

Laura John entertains her colleagues with Kinder Surprise eggs. I love these things.

I understand that Kinder Surprise eggs are illegal in the US for two reasons.

  1. Small parts. But that can be fixed by labelling the egg as "for ages 3 and up".

  2. The FDA has a rule banning "inedible material completely enclosed by edible material". Apparently they think somebody is going to stupidly pop the entire egg in their mouth and try to swallow it hole? Psst, FDA, maybe you should ban peaches, too. I understand the pit is inedible.

Whenever I go to Germany I smuggle some Kinder Überraschungen into the States. (Yes, they're also available in Canada, but if you got them from Canada, they wouldn't be in German now would they?) (Yes, I know that the candy is originally from Italy.)

I'm told that in Germany, children will often buy Überraschungen on the playground from a street vendor, who asks them whether they prefer "Etwas zu sammeln oder etwas zu bauen?" - "Something to collect (a figurine) or something to build?" But how do they know?

They guess by shaking the egg and listening to the rattling.

If you ask for something to build and you end up getting something to collect, the excuse is, "Well, our regular shaker is sick today."

Comments (14)
  1. Andreas Häber says:

    I love Kinder Eggs :-) But the shake-method is far from fail-proof (backward error recovery would be nice here :P). Often if you shake the egg and you can’t hear something it’s a building-project (that’s my favourite!!) with lot’s of parts (oh yeah!) – but it can also be a big stupid figure :(.

    I’ve had a lot of fun with kinder-eggs, but it’s very sad that some too young children have died because of them :(.

  2. If you dry and crack the peach pit, you’ll find an edible part inside.
    Kinder Surprise toys are remarkably well designed. I thought I saw some sold in bodegas in NYC.

  3. Kinder toys are popular decorations on engineer’s screens and desktops here in France.

    The yellow plastic eggs are also great for entertaining cats; either as they come or after pinching the two halves shut over the end of a string. My cat is named Kinder, for that reason.

  4. Timwi says:

    Hi there. I’m German. :) It’s Kinder-Überraschungen, which a dash, but they’re more commonly called Überraschungseier (surprise eggs).

    Well, I was going to say, when I was young I really liked Überraschungseier, but I’ve never heard of this "Etwas zu sammeln oder etwas zu bauen?" thing (or at least I’ve never been asked that by a street vendor). It was usually us (the children) who would do the rattling to guess what’s in it, which I suppose was easier to do in a supermarket than at a street vendor.

    Why do you Americans have so many incredibly weird laws? :)

  5. Ryan Eibling says:

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve been in Toronto for a few months, moving back to the States in a month. I bought two eggs at a market down the street. Got a weird, cactus-like, plastic toy in about 20 tiny pieces with stickers for some of them, and in the other egg was something like a rubber octopus. The chocolate was good.

  6. Israel says:

    Timwi; I understand Germans have to get approval for the names that they choose for their children? Now that’s weird! :-)
    Here in the good ol’ US of A, I can name my child Flatulent Bastard if I want, and no one can do a thing about it!

  7. Raymond Chen says:

    I think the Germans find it just as weird that in the USA you’re *allowed* to name your child Flatulent Bastard and no one can do a thing about it.

    Mit dieser Sache bin ich mit den Deutschen derselben Meinung.

  8. Israel says:

    Raymond, I agree with him, and you, it’s a bizarre intrusion that we aren’t allowed to buy them. I was just teasing Timwi. ;-)

  9. manilius says:

    they have a pretty cool web-site too:
    There is a voucher in every egg witch allows you to play some games at that site. The games are simple but kids just love it.
    Never heard of the "Etwas zu sammeln oder etwas zu bauen?" either. But there are lots of collectors of these figures (mostly adults :) who only buy the eggs for the figures. They try all kind of stuff to make sure the only buy eggs with figures (shake, weigh, …).


  10. Val Savvateev says:

    Raymond, check out those small "european-deli" stores around (usually family owned), you’ll be surprised… I know that some Russian-food stores have the candy (even different kinds).

  11. Blasphemer says:

    I recall there is a picture of an antipersonnel hand grenade, an egg-shaped type, painted in Kinder Surprise style, only the inscription goes, in a kind of straightforward humor, "Killer Surprise".

  12. Gafoon says:

    Raymond, I believe that World Markets (in Bellevue and Woodinville) has some if you’re interested :)

  13. Kelli Zielinski says:

    Yet another cool thing we can’t have in the US because some parents are too dumb to make sure their kids don’t swallow something. Raymond, thank you SO much for the egg (I’ll come show you my cute little bug in a box sometime!). And I was really excited about it, my husband was wondering why I was so obsessed with that egg

    But here’s what I don’t get. I opened it up and pulled out the little capsule part inside. It took me a good few minutes to get that darn thing open,and I felt like an idiot. So, now, I’m not sure why they think this is such a problem with really ilttle kids – they can’t swallow the capsule, and hell, most kids who could open it are probably old enough to know not to swallow stuff. I think this is just another way for some parents to avoid responsibility. Land of the free indeed, covered in foam padding so no one hurts themselves. ;)

  14. Raymond Chen says:

    Commenting closes two weeks after the entry is posted, and this one is way overdue.

Comments are closed.