The Kinder Surprise Egg is both surprise and egg, toy and candy. This is the reason it’s banned in the US — to quote the FDA, “the imbedded non-nutritive objects in these confectionary products may pose a public health risk as the consumer may unknowingly choke on the object” — due to which I never encountered Kinder Eggs until the ripe old age of ten, when I got one for Christmas at my cousins’ house in Canada (and didn’t choke!). Back then the eggs were only available in gender-neutral brown, and the toys inside them purported to be for boys and girls alike.
But no more. Kinder Egg maker Ferrero has launched a new pink egg with the odious slogan “for girls only!” The new girl eggs contain girly toys such as flower rings and tiny-waisted princesses. As these things often go (e.g. the recent launch of pink and purple legos for girls), no “boy egg” has been released, so the advent of the girl egg presumably means that the old standard-color Kinder Eggs will henceforth be considered implicitly male. The many billboards around Berlin announcing the product launch feature the Denglish phrase “Ei Love Rosa” against a fuschia backdrop.
Poorly deployed English words seem to be a sort of fallback option for advertising slogans in Germany. I imagine the following scene playing out from time to time at German advertising agencies:
Copywriter 1: Great idea! Let’s just take an ordinary German sentence and stick in some English words in a manner that probably would not work in English.
“Ei Love Rosa” is a Denglish pun. Ei, the German word for egg, is pronounced the same way as the English I (that’s what’s supposed to be clever about the phrase), and Rosa is the German word for pink. I love pink, eggs love pink, I love pink eggs.
But Rosa is also the first name of murdered Polish-German socialist Rosa Luxemburg, and some clever soul has now pasted “Luxemburg” onto an Ei Love Rosa billboard in Prenzlauzer Berg. The simple but brilliant addition of this single word transforms a pitch for a new! new! new! gender-coded candy egg into a tribute to a socialist who died in Berlin in 1919, shifts the frame from a pink global consumer present to a red local past.
Speaking of the distant past: It’s my impression that while some of the gender expectations placed upon children have become more relaxed since my childhood – especially regarding “pink boys” – the pink-and-purple-industrial complex now churns out ever more gender-specific products targeting ever younger children.
When I was a small child in the early eighties, boys and girls had similar bowl haircuts and wore the same orange and yellow overalls. Nobody called my legos boy toys or found my interest in dinosaurs boyish. Older girls were prone to horse phases, but there was no such thing as a princess phase. Girly products existed – I remember coveting a Strawberry Shortcake doll and pasting sparkly Lisa Frank unicorns into my sticker album – but I really don’t recall anything on the scale of the vast flood of gender-specific products that swirls around small children today.
The just-for-girls Kinder Egg takes this trend a step farther: boys and girls don’t just get color-coded gender-specific toys, they get color-coded gender-specific food. One imagines a future family sitting down to lunch, the daughter pouring the glitter-flecked pink ketchup onto her heart-shaped chicken nuggets as the son dips his T-Rex fish fingers in blue ketchup.