Kinder Surprise, also known as Kinder Eggs, is a confection originally intended for children in the form of a chocolate egg containing a small toy, often requiring assembly.
Kinder Surprise originated in 1972 in Italy. The manufacturer is Ferrero. The toys are designed by both inside designers and external freelancers, for example the French artist André Roche based in Munich, and manufactured by many companies worldwide such as Produzioni Editoriali Aprile, a small company based in Turin, Italy, run and founded by two brothers, Ruggero and Valerio Aprile.
Kinder Eggs containing toys are not suitable for children under the age of three due to the small parts which may be ingested or inhaled. They are sold all over the world excluding the United States, where the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits embedding "non-nutritive items" in confections. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on the eggs in 1997. Kinder Egg-like confections are available, but only in a form filled with small candies and/or stickers. There are some stores in the United States that sell genuine Kinder Eggs, often in conjunction with other imported British or other European sweets, although their importation is technically illegal due to the 1938 law and 1997 recall.
In Europe, their popularity has spread beyond their intended market, and they have become a minor cult phenomenon among discerning adults. There is even a thriving collector's market for the toys. This is especially true in Germany, where the manufacturer includes higher-quality toys than those available elsewhere (more details below). There are many types of toys available, but some of the most popular with collectors include the ever-changing series of small hand-painted figures (some have to be assembled), which are said to be in every seventh egg (ad slogan: "Jetzt in jedem siebten Ei"); cartoon characters (sometimes called "stick figures", which is a mistranslation of the German "Steckfiguren"); metal figures and jigsaw puzzles. Seasonal eggs are introduced around the holidays, such as the limited-edition creche collections (featuring such characters as the three kings, baby Jesus, and assorted barnyard animals) found around Christmas, and the huge ones found at Easter (extremely popular in Italy).
Watch Kinder Surprise Egg collections on YouTube.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Kinder Surprise price guide: sold listings for a value indication.