Kinder Egg Patent

Most parents have the fondest memories of Kinder Surprise Egg. But, I bet you also recall the pang of disappointment when happening upon the “new” Kinder egg. What made this wonderful Surprise into such a Disappointment? If you listen to Ferrero, it was bloody Health & Safety and the expansion of Nancy’s city limits beyond France. But, actually it had more to do with patents.

In 1974, Ferrero patented the classic Kinder Surprise chocolate egg (GB1421516):

“A hollow two‐part chocolate egg with an internal plastic container made of two almost identical parts, which in turn, contains a small toy.”

Sure, a few of them broke, but the ones that ended up by the checkout counter intact were niobium magnets for kids. The chocolate was ok (maybe, a little thin), but that little yellow plastic Capsule of Joy was the undeniable treat. Not only was the toy a 1‐minute LEGO set that never left you scratching your head; put a few together, and with the sugar rush from the prerequisite chocolate eggs, car playtime was guaranteed fun time.

But, 1994 saw Ferrero threatened with expiry of the patent that laid the golden Kinder eggs. First prize was a new 20‐year patent for the same product, but how to go about this? They needed to identify “problems” and “invent” ground‐breaking solutions to “solve” them. After a cursory analysis, Ferrero concluded that:
– the diameter of the plastic container was too small to house assembled toys, requiring the disassembled packaged toy to be reassembled before play;
– the plastic container was prone to being accidentally swallowed (as they were perfectly sized to pop in the mouth ‐ an action instinctive to all children); and
– the edges of the container (apparently) tended to dent the chocolate egg (when soft) ‐ I do recall scoffing at broken Kinder eggs, but never a dented one.

And, patented “a longer, larger‐bellied plastic container with more rounded edges” (IT223258).

What a foot‐shot! They admitted that those little yellow plastic containers were unsafe for small children … and (by a nudge of reasoning) that their slightly larger plastic containers were equally unsafe for slightly older children. After an admission like that, those plastic containers had to go.

So, four years later, Ferrero adapted their egg to a Fully‐Compliant patented H&S Kinder Egg (EP1018302) including:
1. a two‐part non‐edible egg;
2. a two‐part confectionary egg nested within the non-edible egg; and
3. a non‐edible divider separating the two parts of the confectionary egg.

But, where’s the toy? Without the toy, they simply didn’t sell. So, Ferrero emptied one of the non‐edible egg shells of its chocolate goo, and added a pre‐assembled toy. Pre-Assembled! This horror movie just keeps getting worse. Why did they mess with a good; no, a perfect thing?

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