Once upon a time, a very very young me (let’s say 15), planned with one of her best friends to become drug lords, be subsequently rich and live happily ever after. I know it’s not your typical teenage dream, but, hell, it was more realistic than prince charming. And it was a heck of a fun plan.
Fast forward twenty years, and the first thing this law abiding citizen has ever smuggled anywhere are Kinder eggs. Sigh.
Kinder eggs were a huge part of my generation’s childhood. They were a big deal. You would get one when you lost a tooth. Sometimes you would get one on Sundays. And if some adult came over to visit, sometimes they brought one. I liked them more for the surprise than for the chocolate part.
You don’t know what Kinder eggs are? The reason for that is that they are banned in the US. Yes, banned, ilegal, prohibited. They are chocolate eggs that hide a surprise inside, normally in the form of a small toy that you have to put together. And there is a 1938 law that bans non nutritive items inside of food. It is called the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and it says that a food is considered adulterated if it “bears or contains any nonnutritive substance”. Apparently, the federal government thinks that American kids are not as smart as European ones, and would choke on the toy. I have to disagree, and thus grant access to adulterated eggs to as many kids as I can.
The thing is that lately, the wonders of social media have made Kinder eggs very popular in the US. If you have a toddler/preschooler, chances are that you have seen one of these creepy videos where adults open Kinder eggs and describe and put together the contents. If you ask me, I think most of them are pedophiles trying to lure little kids, but that’s paranoid me. If you don’t know what the hype is, you just need to go to YouTube and search. You will find hundreds of these videos.
Which brings me where I am. Since in Spain they are perfectly legal and easy to get, I was asked to bring a bunch for some of my kids’ friends here. And here they are, after a nervous walk through customs. Would a dog pick up the scent of my chocolate eggs? Would I be randomly checked and arrested for bringing adulterated food in the country? I would have felt really ridiculous. Way more ridiculous than a drug lord.
At the end of the day, most foreigners come back with some food items in their suitcases. In my case, I normally bring what according to my husband are inexplicably and abnormally huge amounts of chocolate, the kind you use to make perfectly thick hot chocolate in the winter, and that is only opened when it is snowing inside. He doesn’t understand, but then he will happily have it for breakfast when it’s cold outside.
I know people who bring wine, olive oil, canned tuna, and the wonderfully flavorful and totally banned from being brought in “jamón ibérico”. Sometimes their goods are tossed, in front of them, which in some cases may hurt even more than an arrest. My favorite has to be frying pans. I have friends who travel with a special frying pan to make Spanish omelettes in their luggage. Frying pans are to Spaniards what coffee pots are to Italians.
Are we crazy to go through all the trouble to travel with these items? A little bit. But we keep doing it, because bringing a little piece of home to our other home is priceless.
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