US Customs & Border Patrol Protecting America From Chocolate Toy Eggs (And Charging You For The Privilege)

from the feeling-safer? dept

We’re still waiting for a good explanation of why Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement group is involved in internet copyright issues that have nothing to do with either immigration or customs enforcement, but it appears that those sharp border patrol folks are really doing their job protecting Americans from… chocolate toy eggs. Tim Good alerted us to this story of how the US Border Patrol did a random search on a Canadian woman’s car as she crossed the border into Minnesota, and told her she had illegal contraband in her car in the form of a Kinder Surprise Egg. I’d never heard of this before, but apparently it’s a confection with a chocolate shell and a toy inside.

According to US border patrol, they told her that it was a choking hazard and on the list of “prohibited items” in the US, though, as the folks at Reason (reasonably) point out:

A gander at the image… suggests you’d have to be awfully intent on getting that chocolate into your system not to notice the huge, bright yellow plastic capsule inside.

Take a look for yourself:

Of course, that’s not the end of the story, either. After leaving the chocolate egg and toy to the US border patrol agents, and figuring it was just a nuisance, the woman was somewhat surprised to receive a letter a week later, asking her if she was planning to come back to retrieve the egg. They noted if she did not, and she wanted to fight the seizure of the egg, she would need to pay the US government $250 in “storage costs” for the egg.

Is this really the best use of border patrol?

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Comments on “US Customs & Border Patrol Protecting America From Chocolate Toy Eggs (And Charging You For The Privilege)”

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99 Comments
Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Wonder Ball

We have something similar in the US. The Wonder Ball. It had a toy inside that posed a choking hazard and was changed in 1997 (I still think small candy peaces pose the same choking hazard). That’s probably where this ban came from. Probably something like “No candy shall have anything inedible inside”. Just like the US to make a wide sweeping ban.

monkyyy says:

Re: Re: Re: Wonder Ball

the heavy breed chicken who never seen sun light and spend there life in they’re own filth and the last 5 generations of filth nuggets, and the pesticide apples

the milk only has some bad stuff in it but nothing that teenage girls dont need them selves, and everyone else can use most of it; so i give it a pass

Andy (profile) says:

Unbelievable

These eggs are available all over Europe and yet I thought the EU was the “nanny state” to end them all. Apparently the US is even worse. Or perhaps the issue is that they are just not made in the good old US of A. Either way, this is just one more story in the long line of recent stories that makes one wonder what the heck is going on in the US.

Vic says:

Is this really the best use of border patrol?

But of course! Well, at least on the northern border! Just think of those brave guys at the border, risking their lives, protecting us from all that hazmat stuff, having to store it at their facilities (for a measly $250)!

I thought I have read about those chocolate eggs before right here too. Anyways, I was aware of those, although have never seen them myself (kudos to the US border patrol!)

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re:

Dammit you should be giving those guys medals! Brave souls that they are at the border patrol protecting you from dangerous foreign foods. We have Kinder eggs here in the UK and I wish our customs people were nearly so heroic! We have literally THOUSANDS of needless deaths from these things EVERY MONTH…. they are lethal!

Ummm oh.. wait think I may have been thinking about something else there….. sorry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most of the time the egg halves don’t stay together, so once you unwrap the foil it opens up and you just pull the capsule out and eat the chocolate. I actually have that car in the picture.
For those who have never seen one, the capsule is about the size of those short bottles of white out. If you accidentally swallow that trying to gorge on the chocolate egg, its probably for the best and you’re doing the human race a favour.

DearMrMiller (profile) says:

Because folks use them for smuggling.. ?

Here in Europe, where you can find these at any shop, sometimes folks use these to smuggle or hold other things besides ‘toys’. The plastic bubble that holds the toy is air tight and they’re easy to ‘re-package’ making them look as if they’re store bought. Perhaps there’s a deeper reason for the ban and a reason why the border patrol confiscates them from folks arriving from notoriously cannabis lenient Canada. Just a thought…

Trails (profile) says:

The foreign hordes...

All of you mocking this story are just somnabulent sheep being lead by the nose towards the slaughterhouse while convert foreign influences try to plant their seed in the womb of this great nation.

The last thing the USA needs is those snowbacks coming down here with their drugs, terrorism, and anchor candies, sucking up our superior social services and takin all our jerbs!!

Would you want the Pledge of Allegiance to end with eh?

I say keep those snowbacks out of our great country, where are the minutemen when you need em?

John says:

Kinder Eggs are awesome

I lived in germany for 3 years and loved getting those things. Its the best kid prize ever… And the chocolate is actually some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had.

I was wondering why these things weren’t in the US. Thank you for protecting me from the evil egg and leaving me with just peanut butter snikers bars in the impulse isle.

The Original Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

These have unfortunately been banned since 1938

I’ve enjoyed these Kinder eggs ever since coming across them in Germany in the 70’s. Unfortunately, they’ve been banned in the US since 1938 because of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act

They can be found in various small shops across the US, however, mostly because the owners bring them in themselves and don’t know or don’t care about the ban.

Here’s the Kinder Surprise Egg story.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: These have unfortunately been banned since 1938

haha thats on wikiedia

On January 10, 2011, it was reported that a Kinder egg was seized from a woman’s car during a random inspection while entering the United States from Canada. She was informed that bringing the egg into the United States could result in a $300 fine.[3] Seizures such as that one, and even the prohibition of the product itself, are frequently cited on political blogs and web forums as an example of a “ridiculous” application of law. It is seen as an example of “liberal” intrusion upon personal liberty.[6] The rationale for not banning the product also takes the form that deaths have been too few for it to be considered an actual danger, as well as the argument that since there are worse dangers that are not regulated, this particular danger should not be regulated.[7]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: These have unfortunately been banned since 1938

>The rationale for not banning the product also takes the form that deaths have been too few for it to be considered an actual danger, as well as the argument
>that since there are worse dangers that are not regulated, this particular danger should not be regulated.[7]

I bet Kinder eggs don’t come with 30 shot clips.

Gracey (user link) says:

[sucking up our superior social services]

laughing at that one.

And for the kinder eggs, yes, fairly prevalent here and a very nice treat for the kiddies. But then, there was a time when the world thought brownies were safe.

I wonder if the US has banned jujubes too? We couldn’t find any on our last trip down – a couple of candy shops we asked at eyed us up and down like we were trying to rob them.

Is there a public list of contraband? The last list we found was a booklet on what you can’t bring across the border and I don’t recall seeing any “kinder eggs” on the list. I’d hate to have tried to bring a couple of kinder eggs for my friend’s grandbabies without knowing I was doing some so drastically wrong. How sad is that?

Polkaroo…big green thing with polkadots πŸ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

These things are awesome. They are what cracker jack prizes used to be before the nanny-staters got hold of them. When I used to live in Germany we would ship some back for my sisters kids at Christmas time. The toys are great and if you are not a complete moron of a parent, there is no choking hazard. But this is the nanny state, much like my experience in the military (not bashing), when one persone poops their pants, we all have to wear diapers.

Anonymous Coward says:

So customes will let you be exposed to lead, chromium, mercury, and even small amounts of uranimum(makes the color purple/blue pop) when it supports the economy(shipping ports) but if you want a chocolatey treat that poses a small suffocation hazard and not bought from an american store you cough it up at the boarder.

I love amerika

aikiwolfie (profile) says:

LOL we have these in the UK. Most adults never mind a child would be hard pressed to swallow the yellow capsule. This is just stupid. But then again I was watching “Half Tone Teen” the other night. A documentary following obese Americans. They seem to be able to fit just about anything into their mouths. Maybe Americans do need protecting from this menace after all?

Yeah Right says:

You must have heard about this one

There’s a rather wonderful exception to the US customs rules about carrying switchable knives into the country.

“The only exception is for a one-armed traveler, in which case the blade must be no longer than three inches.”

So any one arm bandit can walk through customs with a prosthetic in which is a spring-loaded is concealed? Nice!

“What the fuck?”, I hear you ask.

Rewind the tape back to the Civil War, and you discover that one-armed amputees at the time had a fine choice in retractable cutlery.

Darryl says:

How to do the right thing and the wrong thing at the same time.

it’s because that product is not sold in the US, but similar products are.

So it is a part of customs to protect their borders, from imports.

All the same, its very sad they have to take ‘candy off a baby’. !!

Kinder Surprises, are very popular here in Australia.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: How to do the right thing and the wrong thing at the same time.

Hey Darryl, what say we put together a care package for our disadvantaged American friends from Techdirt and introduce em too such NOM NOM NOM goodness as: Kinder Surprise (My daughters have a huge collection of the tiny toys), Tim Tams (all the many OMG delicious varieties), Chicken Flavoured Chips (few and far between in the USA it seems), Fantales, Pavlova, Smarties, Maltesers, Anzac biscuits, Lamb [ask around its a rarity over their or is actually mutton :(].

Though I would suggest that we don’t send vegemite. It seems that it too has been banned, so they will never know the joy of eating vegemite off a spoon *weg*

Anonymous Coward says:

The choking hazard isn’t from the risk of injecting the big yellow things them eating the chocolate, it is from the very small parts on the toys inside, which are not particularly safe for childen. The product is aimed at younger children, but isn’t the safest idea for them.

Perhaps being better informed would make the story a little more clear?

Anonymous Coward says:

If you check Google, you will find a couple of older stories outside of the UK (try Kinder choking pink panther). Most of those stories are on spam news sites that I won’t link to from here.

You can also see recalls in the past, such as:

http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content3/news3/chocolate.pr.recall.html

According to Wikipedia (not a great source) “Since 1991, at least 7 children worldwide have died of choking after swallowing the toy inside the Kinder egg”.

Not huge numbers, but some examples.

Michael says:

Pic is wrong

Kinder toys are unassembled in the egg… its like a puzzle you put together. I had dozens of those little toys and plastic capsules around my house when my kids were young… never had one choke on any part of it either. I would bet that they were banned there due to lobbying from one of the other candy companies…

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Pic is wrong

Or some overzealous ‘safety official’ who didn’t have anything else to do with their time.

I mean, LOOK at all the things that have been banned lately, and what do those laws do? N O T H I N G! NOTHING FOR SAFETY!

They just piss people off and make it MORE CLEAR that ‘laws’ are not ‘laws’ all the time….. basically, that some laws you SHOULD ignore.

The Original Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Found the FDA regulation that bans these yummy eggs

Here’s the FDA reg. I’ve …snipped… out the parts that don’t apply. I think that (d)(1) and (d)(3) actually leave “the Secretary” some wiggle room. Maybe we should write a letter/eMail writing campaign to free the Kinder Eggs!

Sec. 402. [21 USC ?342] Adulterated Food

Note: revisions were posted to this section in December 2007.

A food shall be deemed to be adulterated

(a) Poisonous, insanitary, or deleterious ingredients.

…snip…

(b) Absence, substitution, or addition of constituents.

…snip…

(c) Color additives. If it is, or it bears or contains, a color additive which is unsafe within the meaning of section 721(a).

…snip…

(d) Confectionery containing alcohol or nonnutritive substance. If it is confectionery, and

(1) has partially or completely imbedded therein any nonnutritive object, except that this subparagraph shall not apply in the case of any nonnutritive object if, in the judgment of the Secretary as provided by regulations, such object is of practical functional value to the confectionery product and would not render the product injurious or hazardous to health;

(2) bears or contains any alcohol …snip…;

or

(3) bears or contains any nonnutritive substance, except that this subparagraph shall not apply to a safe nonnutritive substance which is in or on confectionery by reason of its use for some practical functional purpose in the manufacture, packaging, or storage of such confectionery if the use of the substance does not promote deception of the consumer or otherwise result in adulteration or misbranding in violation of any provision of this Act, except that the Secretary may, for the purpose of avoiding or resolving uncertainty as to the application of this subparagraph, issue regulations allowing or prohibiting the use of particular nonnutritive substances.

Philip (profile) says:

OMG I love Kinder Eggs! The chocolate is amazing. And the toys are always such little fun! I’m pretty shocked it was caught since it was imported to Canada to begin with. ha.

As a matter of fact, if you know where to look, you can find them all over here in the US, too. You should look around Mike. They are actually quite good and great for little kids (within reason)!

Philip (profile) says:

How to do the right thing and the wrong thing at the same time.

Oh, they are very much sold here in the US. I’ve had several since moving here (moved from German to US in ‘1990). You just have to look in the right spots – real import places, german imports if you have any. Same with some Japanese candy I use to have as a kid.

Unlike US counterparts, these treats are made with real sugar, and taste quite good!

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