Kids need taste of risk
Here’s a news story guaranteed to provoke a fusillade of indignant spluttering: German politicians are reportedly planning to ban Kinder Surprise eggs on the grounds that they’re a safety hazard.
In case you’re not familiar with the concept, the “surprise” inside each Kinder egg is a cheapo little toy housed within a plastic shell. Anyway, the Germans are worried that hungry, gurgling kiddywinks might mistake the gifts for food and wind up choking to death. “Children can’t differentiate between toys and nutritional items,” said Miriam Gruss, a member of the German parliamentary children’s committee.
What, really? Don’t get me wrong—I think children are idiots.
But even I find that statement a tad unfair and sweeping. I used to have a spud gun when I was a kid. In case you’re not familiar with that concept either, it was a small metal pistol that fired chunks of potato. Not once did I aim the potato at anyone. Or try to deep-fry the gun. And I was thick as shit. I guess it was luck.
In fact my run of luck was pretty impressive. Other toys I failed to ingest include a Scalextric, several boxes of space Lego, the board games Operation and Mousetrap, and a complete collection of Paul Daniels’ TV Magic Tricks—even though the latter included an egg-shaped gizmo called The Magic Egg. Somehow, miraculously, my conker-sized kiddywink brain managed to differentiate it from a real egg. Thus my life was saved by a whisker.
Gruss won’t countenance such a slapdash approach to child safety. Not on her watch. “It’s a sad fact,” she said. “Kinder Surprise eggs have to go.” As you can imagine, the committee’s proclamation has already caused a fair bit of outraged huffing, not least from the manufacturer, Ferrero.
“There is absolutely no evidence that the Kinder Surprise eggs, as a combination of toy and foodstuff, are dangerous,” said Ferrero’s spokesperson.
Now I’m no fan of Ferrero chocolate, which vaguely tastes like regurgitated icing sugar to me, but I can’t help thinking that it would be hugely unfair on the company if an unsubstantiated link between Kinder eggs and danger began to form in parents’ minds and sales suffered accordingly.
Let’s face it, even though Kinder eggs are generally bought for the gift rather than the sickly chocolate shell, and even though many of the toys are so ingeniously designed they could easily be sold on their own, munching through the outside to get at the inedible inside is half the fun.
What’s more, jittery, neurotic parents don’t need any more false scares to piss their pants over. They’re already raising their twatty little offspring like mollycoddled prisoners: banned from playing outdoors in case a paedophile ring burrows through the pavement and eats them, locked indoors with nothing but anti-bacterial plasma screens for company, ferried to and from school in spluttering rollcaged tanks ... Christ, half these kids would view choking to death as a release.
No wonder they grow up to become tiresome whooping advocates for extreme sports.
If I’d spent the first 18 years of my life doing time in a joyless cotton-wool cell, listening to some angsty bloody parent banging on about how precious and special I was every pissing day, I’d snowboard off a cliff at the first opportunity too.
Under those circumstances, tumbling down a rockface and cracking your skull open must feel like a declaration of independence crossed with an orgasm.
How did we get to this point? Our sense of self grew too strong. We gazed up our own bums for so long, we each became the centre of the universe.
We’re not mere specks of flesh, jostled by the forces of chance. We’re flawless deities, and goddammit we deny—deny!—the very existence of simple bad luck.
If we trip on the pavement, someone else is to blame. Of course they are. And we’ll sue them to prove it if necessary.
In a bid to pre-empt our self-important litigiousness, armies of risk assessors scan the horizon, dreaming of every conceivable threat. You could bang your head on that branch. Crack a rib on that teaspoon. Choke to death on that chocolate egg.
Well, it stops here. And it stops now. Next week, I’m launching my own range of Kinder eggs. They’re called Unkinder Eggs. And they don’t contain sweets. They contain specially designed hazards.
Spiked ball bearings. Spring-loaded razor-blade traps. Flimsy balloons filled with acid. Miniature land mines powerful enough to punch holes in your cheeks and embed your teeth in the wall.
The idea is to carefully nibble away all the chocolate without incurring a serious injury. Thrills! Tension! Chocolate!
It’s the confectionery equivalent of extreme sports. You’ll love it.
And hey—that’s not just cocoa butter and milk solids you’re savouring. It’s better than that. It’s the great taste of risk.—