Kinder Surprise eggs - the chocolate delicacy filled with a (surprise!) toy - have had a big impact on people's lives. Consider the Winnipeg woman who nearly paid a $300 fine when she tried to cross the Canadian-U.S. border with one (the candy is illegal in the U.S., but more on that later). Or the highly creative man who used one to propose to his girlfriend.
Or the New Jersey businessman who loved them so much he wanted to make sure future generations of American children could enjoy them as much as he does.
That would be Kevin Gass, the co-founder of Candy Treasure LLC, a Lebanon, N.J., candy company. About a week ago, Gass unrolled Choco Treasure, a Kinder-inspired chocolate egg with a toy inside. This is a big deal, because this type of product hasn't been legal in this country since 1938, when the Food and Drug Administration passed the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits any " non-nutritive component" (for example, a toy) from being embedded in a confectionary product, as the Foodbeast reported.
(Incidentally, that hasn't stopped people from trying to smuggle them in. According to Canada's National Post, more than 60,000 Kinder eggs have been seized at the U.S. border annually. Penalties can zoom up to $2,500 per egg.)
What's more, Kinder Surprise eggs, which are manufactured by an Italian company called Ferrero, aren't safe for kids under 3 years old. The product is in clear violation of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirement, which states that candy-with-ensconced-toys must be safe for kids of all ages.
But none of that deterred Gass. It just motivated him to figure out a way to legalize the contraband.
"This is the biggest kids candy in the world, and we think it tastes great. It's fun, and we spent quite a bit of time to make it safer and also as much fun as the original," Gass told ABC News, adding that he worked with the FDA and a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission certified lab to make sure the product was safe for children of all ages. To wit: Submerged inside each egg is a capsule that separates the two halves of the chocolate. The capsule also has ridges around the side, so even a young child can tell there's something there.
Other than safety, one of Gass's biggest challenges was finding a toy that appeals to adults and kids alike, even though children are the target audience.
"Young kids love stickers. Adults don't want stickers," said Gass. So he and his team have come up with gizmos that offer something for everyone: A mini deck of cards-all 52 of them! A tiny 3-D puzzle. A teensy little rubber squirty toy.
"That's my favorite candy store, so I'm really happy," said Gass.
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