Kinder-Egg Travesty

Why can’t toy manufacturers leave well enough alone? Without a doubt, toys are divided along gender lines – fair enough – in principle. Little girls like caring for baby dolls, boys love pushing trucks through the sandbox. Between these poles lies a vast world of gender free play and imagination.

What baby didn’t have a set of wooden blocks, floating bath tub toys or stuffed animals; gender neutral beginnings, understandably parting ways as kids get older. My daughter loved mermaids and unicorns, my sons trains and trucks; perfectly natural, part of growing up. My ponder takes no issue with gender based toys – at least not in this post. My irritation stems from that sea of gender neutral fun that once nestled between the two. Ingeniously simple play, accessible regardless of gender.

Etch-A-Sketch, Slinky, Play Doh, Lego, Kinex, Brio, Playmobil, and Kinder Surprise – examples of non specific gender marketing – simply great toys. Toys that didn’t have to be pink or blue, toys that any kid played with. I’ll be generous by forgiving pink Etch-A-Sketch or Slinky; attempts to jump start sales in a ToysrUs, mega-store era. I’m not sure what was wrong with Mr. Potato Head but suddenly there was a Mrs. Play Doh began marketing gender specific “play sets”, Lego introduced “Lego Friends”, specifically for girls – gone was square head Lego man – replaced by ridiculous plastic bimbos, kittens and puppies.

Kinder Surprise for girls was too much; the travesty responsible for pushing me over the edge. Kinder eggs began in 1974, the brain child of Ferrero – put a toy inside a chocolate egg. Billions sold, thousands of different toys inside the yellow capsule – really cool surprises waiting to be assembled. High quality, clever little gems – often silly, but never totally lame. You never knew what that yellow capsule would give up – one thing for certain, it wasn’t guaranteed to be a ring, hair accessory or plastic princess. At least not until Kinder for girls came along.

We always buy Kinder Surprise to put in Easter baskets and Christmas stockings. My kids are adults now yet they still look for that foil wrapped egg. My husband had no idea of Kinder’s gender split when inadvertently picking up eggs wrapped in slightly pink foil – they keep their gender packaging subtle. Horror gave way to outrage as egg after egg revealed disappointing centers.

The logic behind gender specific everything eludes me. Girls liked square head Lego man, and took no offence with Mr. Potato Head. Girls don’t need pink paper or ridiculous depictions of girlish nonsense at every turn. There used to be a realm of toys children played with because they were great toys. Once upon a time, a world of non-gendered fun entertained generations of kids. I wish someone would tell marketing nit-wits to leave well enough alone.

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6 thoughts on “Kinder-Egg Travesty

  1. Your ponder has me wondering…

    Have you any idea from whence all these gender specific playthings arose?

    I fear the gender specificity has nothing to do with the toys, any more than that the lyrics of our ‘pop’ songs are no longer ‘bubble gum’ music, and it’s getting harder and harder to find a movie that isn’t dark and brooding.

    Don’t you think our toys follow our social psyche? We’re engaged in a great battle for sexual equality, gender transparency, gay, lesbian and transgender rights — I mean there’s a lot going on right now and anyone who’s active in any part of that struggle surely has to be fighting to make sure their point of view is represented on the ‘playing field.’ Forget what it may or may not do to the kids, this is war and we take no survivors — including our own kids.

    just wondering.

    Cheers,
    Peter
    A retired photographer looks at life from behind an RV steering wheel.
    Life Unscripted

  2. I despair at ice cream with toys inside and all of their kinder and happy meal cousins. But we both know why its there and why there is a girl version.

    The marketing folks have absolutely no desire to make things pink or sell us trojan horses. They just need to increase and create markets.

    When I was younger I always thought that marketing and advertising were pointless professions for soulless people who enjoyed lying for money. Now that I’m older, I understand that these people just make up for the lack of imagination of the people that are supposed to understand what we really need and for the dumb consumers who have a hard time working out what’s good for them.

    But they’re still scammers.

  3. Oh, no! The best thing about Kinder Eggs was, like you said, that they never disappointed!

    …You can’t conquer without the “divide” part coming first, and I feel like all this unnecessary separation of genders is part of a much bigger problem.

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