Tonight, I went grocery shopping. Among other things, I also bought a pallet of twenty Kinder Surpise Eggs, because St. Nicholas Day is coming up and Kinder Surpise eggs are ideal for handing out. For more on the North German custom of kids going trick or treating on St. Nicholas Day see here and here.
In my opinion, Kinder Surprise Eggs make ideal St Nicholas Day treats. They’re affordable even in larger quantities, particularly if you get them at a reduced price like I did. What is more, all children love Kinder Surprise Eggs, as evidenced by their worldwide success. Well, worldwide with the sole exception of the US, where Kinder Surprise Eggs are banned, because they are supposedly a choking hazard. Attempts to illegally import the eggs carry hefty fines. So guns and marijuana, medical or not, are okay, but Kinder Surprise Eggs, now that’s a horrible danger. Sigh!
Another thing to love about Kinder Surprise Eggs is that they’re not just a treat for all ages from toddler (since German parents actually do their job and don’t let very young kids play with Kinder Surprise Eggs unsupervised) to teenager (my otherwise so grown up eighth graders insisted last year that they weren’t too old for Kinder Surprise Eggs) but that they’re also gender neutral. Or at least, they used to be.
For when I was at the supermarket tonight and found the display with the price reduced Kinder Surprise Eggs, I thought, “That’s strange. Since when are Kinder Surprise Eggs pink?” Still I packed twenty eggs onto one of those plastic trays, put them into the shopping cart and continued towards the check-out. Then, directly next to the check-out, I saw a different display of Kinder Surprise Eggs in the traditional red and white packaging. I was a bit taken aback and went back to the first display to check whether I had accidentally grabbed some limited edition eggs, which would be more expensive. But no, the price for the red and pink eggs was exactly the same. Only that the pink eggs were labeled with a sign (which I had previously missed) saying “Kinder Surprise Eggs – For Girls Only.” Cue a lot of grumbling about sexism and aggressively gendered toys, while I swapped out the pink eggs for red and white eggs.
“What’s the problem?”, my Dad, who happened to be with me, asked, “Why don’t you just hand out pink eggs?”
“Because the pink eggs are labeled and marketed as ‘for girls’. Now how do you think an eight-year-old boy will react, when given something labeled as ‘for girls’?”
I’ve talked a little about the aggressive gendering of toys and the potential problems before on this blog. But this bugs me more than pink princess Barbie dolls and the like, simply because Kinder Surprise Eggs used to be such a great unisex toy/gift. Yes, the toys themselves are gendered on occasion, e.g. the sets of collectible plastic figurines include boy and girl figurines, other eggs contain little cars or – back when I was a kid, tin soldiers in historic uniforms. I loved those. But because you never know what you get when you buy them, the eggs themselves are gender neutral.
Of course, it’s possible that the toys inside the pink eggs are absolutely lovely. And come to think of it, Kinder Surprise Eggs did tend towards more boy-associated toys. There were always more cars and tin soldiers and male figurines than dolls and horses and girl figurines. And in the end, I did buy ten pink and ten regular eggs – after all, I get Nicholas girls, too.
But still, it’s kind of sad that even Kinder Surprise Eggs are gendered now.
I took some photos of the eggs side by side, which you can see behind the cut: