July 18, 2012

Smuggling

This isn't one of those 'reveal-your-darkets-secrets' sorts of blogs, but I have one that I need to get off my chest. 

I smuggled an illegal product into the United States.  Intentionally and illicitly.  I have also knowingly been the recipient of the same product, smuggled by others at my request.  I am not alone...
Two Seattle men say they spent more than two hours in a detention center at the Canadian border after U.S. border agents discovered illegal chocolate eggs in their car.
Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney told KOMO-TV they decided to bring home some treats for friends and family during a recent trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. They bought Kinder Eggs -- chocolate eggs with a toy inside.
The two men say border guards searched their car and said the eggs are illegal in the United States because young children could choke on the small plastic toys. Importing them can lead to a potentially hefty fine.
When we lived in Germany, my kids loved Kinder Eggs.  They are simply an average-size plastic egg covered in a thin layer of white and milk chocolate.  After eating the chocolate (or taking it off for later), there is a toy inside the egg.  They toys often come in a set or series, thus encouraging further purchases to collect each model.  Yes, the toys are small.  In fact, many of them require assembly, so the individual parts are quite small.
I Googled and Googled, but couldn't find any alarming statistics on the number of choking injuries and deaths suffered by children outside the United States that don't have the Consumer Product and Safety Commission to ban toys for them.  It is entertaining to note that most of our Kinder Eggs were purchased at the base commissary.  I wonder if the CPSC's long arm has put a stop to that yet?
Near our home is the headquarters and retail outlet of a wonderful place called The German Deli.  They are the go-to place for former military jonesing for the products they came to love while stationed in Deutschland.  When we first returned to the area, they were able to import Kinder Eggs, but they had to add a huge warning sticker about the choking hazard.  Within months, they could no longer do that, and Kinder Eggs have been contraband ever since.  Luckily for my kids, we know lots of folks that travel through, or are stationed in, places where they can buy Kinder Eggs.
While this isn't a new story, or a very interesting one, think about the costs for a moment.  The review and testing of products, the report writing, the regulations, the dissemination of information, the training of agents.  Take any one little product that Big Brother has decided we can't take personal responsibility for buying and consuming, and try to put a number on how many government employees are responsible for keeping us from it.  Is it any wonder we are broke?

3 comments:

Titan Mk6B said...

Oh. My. God. I need to keep my grandchildren out of my garage. There are (literally) thousands of small choking hazards in there.

Harper said...

I once had the 'have you seen the size of Lego pieces?' argument with a real live person at some government agency about this. Apparently, slathering a chocolate coating on the outside of a plastic egg is the sticking point. Kids get so carried away, they forget to stop swallowing when the candy part is gone.

What a stupid nanny state we live in.

kerrcarto said...

Only a government agency could think this law up. Fucking stupid assholes.