Wednesday, May 05, 2004

All hail the incredible edible egg! No, not the kind that came before the chicken--or was it the other way around? I'm talking about Überraschungeier ("surprise eggs") or, as we call them in our best fractured German, "Kindereggs." Each chocolate Kinderegg opens to reveal a plastic yolk, which in turn opens after some mighty fierce struggling to reveal a small plastic toy.

We bought our first Kindereggs at the train station on our way to Bremerhaven last fall to collect my van from the port. What started off as an occasional treat has grown into a daily ritual. I buy them by the 24-egg flat at Walmart and keep them in a basket on our bookcase; each day Mike and Annabelle dip into the basket for their mid-morning egg.

At first it was enough just to enjoy the unique toys inside the eggs. It didn't take long though for us to realize that the toys came in sets, and the mission became collecting these sets. Over Christmas they worked on collecting the figurines from the new Lord of the Rings movie. Most recently, they completed die Motocoyoten ("Motor Coyotes") set.

When we went to Garmisch shortly before Thanksgiving, we turned their friend Rebecca Mitchell on to the joy of Kindereggs. She, in turn, got her father hooked, and they have been very helpful to Mike and Annabelle in trading for that last toy to complete a set. Phil has even discovered the joys of hunting eggs on German ebay.

A couple of weeks ago, we took a roadtrip with the Mitchells up to Frankfurt where the Kindereggs company was celebrating 30 years of business with a museum exhibition. The exhibit turned out to be rather small--it took us longer to drive there than to see everything--but we still had a nice time. Here are Mike, Annabelle, and Rebecca posing with the giant inflatable egg:

This photo shows a selection of some recent Kinderegg prizes on display at the museum. See the Mr. Potatohead (Herr Kartoffelkopf perhaps?)? We have him. And the goony birds--we have tons of those as well. And that flying thing in the bottom right corner. Got him, too.

The best part about the museum exhibit was getting to see the prizes from the 29 years before we started collecting. There were Star Wars toys and Aristocats toys and Smurf toys and Peanuts toys. I enjoyed seeing this chair that was decorated with egg wrappers and empty plastic yolks:

I could have enough wrappers and yolks by now to fancy up an entire dining room set!

Lest you think that Kindereggs are just benign fun, let me assure you that they can be quite controversial. We can buy other Ferrero products (such as Nutella and assorted chocolate bars) at the commissary but not the eggs. The reasoning is that a child might choke on the plastic yolk or toy. Never mind that children choke on hotdogs every day, but the commissary has no qualms with delivering those instruments of death.

Apparently, the fear of plastic-munching tykes is not strictly an American phenomenon. In recent months, Greece and Great Britain have called for a boycott of all Ferrero products by the European Union. Thus far the EU has advised the Gegeneier (this is a German word that I just invented, which means "egg opposition") to suck eggs.

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