Racial insensitivity and chocolate aren’t natural bedfellows. It’s typically difficult to sell something sweet and milky if it encourages skin-colour focused discrimination. This is pretty much the first lesson in Advertising 101. However, a story has emerged this week that suggests that not every company has received the memo about doing all they can to avoid being tainted with the racist brush. As obvious as it might be to the rest of us, some clearly need the lesson repeating.
As everyone knows, the most exciting part of a Kinder Egg is unearthing the plastic toy hidden within. Over this years, this particular feature has landed manufacturers Ferrero in some hot water over fears that the toys could be a choking hazard for small children. Consequently, the treats have been banned in the United States and viewed with scepticism by many a concerned parent. But, just as the brand is beginning to convince the world that it is completely safe, a story has emerged from Australia that could send the eggs back to square one.
As reported by Yahoo News, several parents have complained after finding a brand new, racially dubious toy inside their children’s Kinder Eggs. The toy in question features a white, blonde-haired, smiling egg-child, standing with one thumb up, clutching a trio of blue balloons. Written on the balloons are the unmistakable letters “KKK”. To anyone unfamiliar with the significance of that abbreviation, we suggest a quick Google before you continue with the rest of this article.
Clearly, having their snacks aligned with America’s preeminent hate group did not go down well with some parents, who seemed to feel pretty strongly that the brand should reconsider their approach to toy design. One woman wrote on Facebook, “Look what my niece (of mixed race) just found in her Kinder Surprise – KKK … what on earth Kinder?” Another christened the faux pas, “Ku Klux Klan: Kinder Surprise edition.”
Unsurprisingly, the response from senior figures at Kinder HQ was swift. Speaking to Yahoo News, a spokeswoman stated, “We sincerely apologise for any offence caused due to the inference of how the three Ks read together on this toy. To offer some explanation of how this toy came to be, initially it was designed with one balloon with a ‘K’ on it. However, two more were added to provide a more robust structure, as the safety and quality of our toys is of the utmost importance. We had absolutely no intention to make associations with the Ku Klux Klan and we truly apologise to our consumers for any unintentional offence caused. We do not support this organisation in any way.”
Kinder also added that the toy had been created as part of the sweet’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and revealed that, “Stock from this toy range has also been withheld from the market and destroyed. Rest assured, we are revisiting our internal processes to ensure something like this cannot happen again. It was never intended for this toy to be offensive, and we would like to extend our sincerest apologies again. In addition, any consumer who has received the toy in question can contact our consumer services to arrange a replacement, if they wish.” If ever a food made the case for a focus group, this unfortunate egg is surely it.