If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the Internet is a wonderfully weird place. It's where people find communities in which they can fixate on things together.
So it should come as no surprise that on the Internet, there are places where people are very fixated indeed on the fact that Ferrero's Kinder Surprise eggs are banned from sale in the United States.
The eggs in question are a classic treat, a hollow milk and white chocolate egg housing a plastic capsule that contains a surprise toy for the eater. Since its launch in 1974, nearly 30 billion eggs have been sold worldwide.
|9gag users contrast Kinder eggs with guns.|
But despite the fact that Ferrero claims to design and develop every Kinder Surprise toy with safety in mind, "rigorously observing international regulations as well as extra safety criteria voluntarily adopted by the Ferrero Group," the United States takes no chances.
The 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act bans the importation and sale of Kinder Surprise eggs on the basis that the embedded toys have no nutritive or functional value. Every year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection releases statements reminding the public of the eggs' dangerous nature and the fact that importing them is illegal. Last month, the FDA issued Import Alert 34-02 specifically regarding the eggs.
|Taunts like these appear regularly as well.|
Popular websites like Reddit and 9gag, frequented mostly by 20-somethings along with other users of all ages, have fixated on this fact. On 9gag in particular, memes about America's dearth of Kinder Surprise eggs crop up regularly.
Users contrast the fact that the eggs are banned in the United States while guns are not to point out the absurdity of the situation. Some lament the fact that the "poor Americans" have never seen the eggs in person. Others post images of stacked cartons of Kinder Surprise eggs with the taunting caption, "U mad, America?"
Elsewhere on the internet, people have turned to conspiracy theories. In response to one of hundreds of questions about the illegal nature of the eggs in the United States, an anonymous user on Yahoo! Answers posits that the eggs are banned "because 'Kinder eggs' has 10 letters, so does 'Illuminati.'"
|Non-Americans both tease and sympathize.|
Although many of these interactions are rooted in what has become an on-going inside joke between young Internet users, to say that people don't care would be wrong. Clearly, the banning of Kinder Surprise eggs has struck a chord with people all over the world.
With me, for example. I was born in Hong Kong and didn't leave Asia until I came to the United States to attend Northwestern University four years ago. Shortly before leaving, I found out about the ban and promptly created an image in Photoshop of the only two things I really wanted to bring: a carton of Kinder Surprise eggs and my dog.
I could never stop myself from eating the eggs long enough to actually bring them back to the United States, and I have yet to figure out how to sneak my dog past customs unnoticed. But now, several years later, my friends and I still scour supermarket aisles for the eggs every time we go home.
So what is it about these eggs that have got people so riled up? Why do they risk $2,500 fines to smuggle them into the country?
|This was all I wanted to bring to college.|
I think the reason is simple: They remind us of our childhoods.
Although the little plastic toy inside is only mildly entertaining, the combination of chocolate and plaything brings back countless memories of other toys and candies we had as kids. And the delight of cracking open an egg and breaking up the capsule to reveal its surprise never really fades.
No matter how old or how far removed from the carefree years of childhood you may be, the Kinder Surprise egg brings you back, if only for a moment.
So forget the fact that the FDA thinks those toys are a choking hazard. Forget that the capsule serves no functional purpose. The point of the Kinder Surprise egg is not the plastic housed inside, but the nostalgia it invokes in children and adults everywhere.
We're a sentimental species, after all, and that's probably why it matters.