It’s a chocolate egg with a toy inside. Well, a toy inside a plastic container, which is inside the chocolate. The seams of the chocolate part divide neatly (with a gentle touch) or can crumble away with impatient hands. It’s also illegal in the United States, for reasons that range from it being “adulterated food” to a choking hazard to an easy way of smuggling drugs. However, as of mid-March a new, legal chocolate bubble candy with a toy inside launched in the U.S. market.
But where the treats are legal, joy abounds. Sort of. Usually, the toy surprise consists of a puzzle, plastic model or figurine the child has to put together. The pieces are small. You can’t really cram much into those little plastic shells. It’s a low-end toy for sure, but hey, it’s a surprise. And kids love it.
Until now, the toys have been gender neutral. Recently, the company began marketing a “pink” line of Kinder Surprise eggs with toys in them that are specifically aimed at gurls.
Why? Let’s speculate. Could gurls who have more trouble putting the toys together than boys? Come on. This is like saying that gurls don’t play with Lego or toy cars. It’s condescending and reinforces negative gender stereotypes.
As you can imagine, the wrapper is covered in hues of pink. Pink! Pink is so not just for gurls anymore. And if the new Kinder Surprise is for gurls, does this mean the regular version is just for boys? Will we see blue on the wrappers? Will toy guns and slingshots prevail?
Some of the “gurl” toys include bracelets, rings and Barbie dolls. Yes, miniature Barbie dolls, which in and of themselves give rise to encouraging body image issues in gurls.
The biggest “surprise” here is that a European company (Kinder is manufactured by Ferrero, based in Italy) would still buy into these outdated stereotypes. I mean, isn’t Europe supposed to be more progressive?
Continued gender stereotyping with toys has given rise to a new slogan: Pink stinks! says local toy marketing campaigner.
In order to determine if the “pink” Kinder Surprises are indeed an insidious threat to progressive society, I did an entirely unscientific poll on my Facebook page. I posted a status updated about the gurls’ toys and asked for opinions. They ranged from thinking I was over-reacting to being in full agreement with me to those who have gotten the eggs for their daughters who loved the toys to the most thought-provoking one of all: What about the boys who might enjoy playing with gurl’s toys? Painting everything for gurls pink does not just pidgeon hole the one gender.
Pink is a beautiful colour and not just for gurls. Toys to be found inside a chocolate egg should be random and not categorized along gender lines. If a boy opens up an egg to discover a doll or a ring, let him enjoy it without fear of being ostracized.
If the powers that be at the company feel they are accessing an untapped market, they need to remember that for decades, the toys inside Kinder Surprise has been gender neutral and enjoyed by both boys and gurls. I know – I was one of them.
Sign Change.org’s petition to stop Kinder Surprise producing gender-stereotypical chocolate.