Kinder Eggs, a popular European chocolate egg that contains a toy inside, is banned from importation into the United States because it contains a "non-nutritive object embedded in it."
With the Easter holiday around the corner, the agency issued the reminder this week, warning that the candy is considered unsafe for children under 3. Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized 25,000 of them in 1,700 incidents.
The hollow egg, which is sold by the Italian confectioner Ferrero, is available in Europe, Canada, Australia and parts of Latin America under various names including Kinder Surprise and Kinder Sorpresa. It has taken on a cult status among adults who collect the toys, which vary from rings to animals and cartoon characters.
Cult status indeed. And not just around the Easter Holidays. Perhaps US customs and border protection officials are aware of this Cult status or how would you explain what happened to a Canadian woman:
The woman was selected for a random search at a border checkpoint in Minnesota when officials discovered she was carrying a Kinder Egg and took it from her, The Toronto Star reported. A few weeks later, she received a 7-page letter asking if she wanted the egg back or if she was going to abandon rights to it, the Star reported. "I was in disbelief," she told the newspaper. "It's a $2 egg."
Or is it just protectionism? A friend comments on Facebook:
"The odd thing is that I just picked up a "choco-treasure" from the supermarket [in the United States] a few days ago. It's identical to a Kinder Egg, and says that there is a "Toy Surprise! in every chocolate egg." I think the US Border and Customs rules may just be enforced to protect the domestic market from takeover by the (obviously more delicious) Kinder Egg."
Mark Steyn and his family had their own encounter with the Kinder Egg Border Patrol, upon which he had some [url=http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/265505/choc-and-awe-mark-steyn]choice comments[/url].
Besides protectionism, another economic factor could be rent-seeking by the customs "guild". Customs (ICE) cannot make a dent in the drugs trade, human trafficking, immigration, etc. so they have to show they're good for something.
Sill, my best guess would be a classic case of 'moral panic' (won't someone PLEASE think of the children!) rather than protectionism.