Kinder Egg Contraband

Protecting Americans from foreign bonbons.


Credit: Fotografiert von A. Kniesel/ File:%C3%9Cberaschungs-Ei.jpg

Lind Bird had no idea she was in possession of illegal goods when she tried to cross the border from Canada to the United States with a $2 chocolate Kinder Surprise egg in her car. But astute U.S. customs officials detected her contraband confectionery at once, seizing it from the appropriately named Bird.

The bonbon, a chocolate-encased plastic capsule with a toy inside, is sold worldwide, but importing one into the U.S. could have triggered a $300 fine. The tasty terrors join Haitian animal-hide drums, African bush meat, and Cuban gold on the federal government's list of prohibited imports, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1997 declaring the toys an unacceptable choking hazard. The candy also runs afoul of a Food and Drug Administration rule against "nonnutritive items" in confections. Customs agents have confiscated more than 25,000 Kinder eggs in the last year.

Instead of getting to chow down on a chocolate egg when she arrived at her destination in the United States, Bird was treated to a seven-page letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection seeking official permission to destroy the candy. "I thought it was a joke," she told the CBC. "I had to read it twice. But they are serious." If she wishes to contest the seizure of her snack, Bird must pay $250 for the government to store it until the issue is resolved.