Monday, 18 November 2013

Kinder "Surprise" - Limited Edition Gender Biased Eggs?

I don't often sound off about things on my blog, but this is something that has really gotten under my skin, so please bear with me! Being a scientist at heart I also managed to turn this rant/opinion piece into a little experiment...

Recently, when browsing the chocolate aisle for a late night snack in Sainsbury's, I came across a very confusing sight
I saw the blue tipped ones first and thought "Oooh they've changed the packaging" - then I saw the pink ones and honestly assumed they'd just made new, fun coloured packaging. It was only when I got home and saw the advert for new limited edition Kinder Surprise and realised - the pink one with toys for girls, and the blue one with toys for boys. The adverts showed the stereotypical, to-be-expected, things like cars for boys and pretty princesses for girls. This really gets under my skin.

In psychology at uni we looked in-depth at issues like gender bias and gender identification, and how heavily childhood development features. I'm sure that everyone has differing opinions about this, and some may not see it as an issue at all - but the early reinforcement of stereotypes is something I feel very strongly against and I don't like that such huge and influential companies like Kinder would reinforce that, especially not in this day and age.

I have always been a very strong minded person, especially as a child I was very sure in my convictions - I can remember that even at the tender age of seven I was so frustrated by gender bias (though of course I didn't know it then!). I used to sit and sulk watching the boys play football during lunchtime every day, I so badly wanted to play and I hated the idea that "only boys could play". There was no room for girls on the school team and the boys wouldn't let me join in during playtime - so I joined the under 11s team at my local football stadium instead and made an effort to really show the boys up during PE lessons. By no means was I a tomboy, I still had healthy share of Barbie dolls - I just didn't see why there should be "girls only" and "boys only" activities.

What I loved about Kinder Surprise as a kid (and indeed still now!), was the surprise part. I loved that you never knew what you were going to get. If it rattled I'd lay the chocolate aside and quickly get into the little yellow egg to find out what I got to build. It was an extra bonus if it came with stickers too. It was always a little disappointing when you just got a little figurine, but I did have quite a collection - I actually keep a little penguin on the dash of my car :) I feel like the surprise element might be lost slightly with these gender targeted eggs. I'm also pretty confident that I'd take a build-able item over a princess any day - and I'm pretty sure some of the girls in my class would agree too!

I decided to pop back to the shop and pick up some of the new gender specific Kinder eggs to see what sort of items you'd get for each colour. I opened the blue egg first and heard that very familiar rattle!
As expected, it was a car, with stickers (yay!) - when built you can use the grey bit at the back to fire the car off. Brilliant!

Now to the pink one... a little unexpectedly, this one also rattled!
All the parts of the bracelet came separately and could be assembled together very easily. There were also stickers to pop around the bracelet. I think it was unfortunate that I ended up with a pink one - I'm not a huge fan of pink and this really doesn't help the Kinder cause in light of this post. But I can see on the paper that they've got My Little Pony bracelets in other colours too. I do think this bracelet is cute and I was pleased that it still had an element of construction - honestly after seeing the advert I was literally just expecting a little princess figurine.

So, after conducting this little experiment, I suppose it's not totally as bad as I first thought. I'm still not happy with the coloured packaging, or convinced of the girls toys vs boy toys, and I still think that the whole charm of the Kinder Surprise was that you had no way of telling what you might get. I have to say, I'm glad that these are out for a limited time only.

What are your thoughts about the new Kinder Surprise packaging? I'm particularly interested in knowing if any of you are Mums, how you feel about this? Do you think children should experience reinforcement of gender stereotypes - or should they be allowed more freedom of choice? ♥

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  1. I see your point when I saw the advert I was surprised they had changed the packaging.
    I did however at first think it was a good idea and kids might like it but then also started to wonder if it would cause arguments or upset to little ones.
    I think they have purely done this to make more money and I can see why you don't agree.


  2. I have to say it's a bit of a weird one for me, as when I was little I never opened a kinder egg & thought "eghh boy toy" if it was a car, I was just excited I had a sweet & a new toy! I think it's an extremely strange move as even Mcdonalds stopped doing gender specific toys a long time ago, when I was really young it was a boys meal or a girls toy, and I remember so clearly my mum saying "do you want a wind up car or a doll" no girl or boy, she gave me the option of whichever I preferred, so I guess the message stuck with me - and I still have that wind up hot wheels truck! I guess what I'm trying to say is I think its a stupid move my Kinder!

    On another note - I was in Sainsburys earlier today & was browsing the gift section where a mum was screaming at her young boy, maybe four years old, that he couldn't have a pink lego set because, and I'm quoting, not my words at all "pink is for homos!" ... I've never been so disgusted in my whole life!

  3. I saw the advert the other day and I have to admit I was very surprised, I think the charm of Kinder Surprise was the excitement of what you received inside whether it was for a boy or a girl, I always remember that they used to do good gifts regardless!! Great post Rachael.

    Helen X

  4. My boys hate toy cars - always have - so I'm disappointed Kinder has changed its Surprise to something I would say is predictable.

  5. I find this totally crazy! I was gobsmacked when I saw them in asda... As a kid I was always taught that I could play with cars as much as I could dolls and I loved it. I used to dress head to toe in boys things one day and a dress the next. I used to play football at break with the boys and now I'm one of the girliest girls I know. I think as kids you don't get that this is a boy thing and that's a girl thing, what's fun is fun.

    From a parent's point of view I feel exactly the same. I think caleb enjoys things he thinks are fun and that's the end of it! He has a little pushchair although his dad won't let him have dolls, so he pushes his teddies round one minute and the next he's loading it up with Lego and tipping it out everywhere. He got a kitchen for his birthday, kids need to know they can play with everything! I think it's dangerous to expose them to such stereotypes so young, we're going to breed a generation terrified of being different...

  6. This really annoyed me tbh - Jack picked up a pink one in a shop the other day and the cashier was like 'Oh, but thats a girls one!' - Jack is not fussed whether the toys he plays with are gender specific, he'll still play with them.

    Like above, I've never opened a Kinder egg and been disappointed because there is a boy's toy in it - I probably preferred those to the girly things!


  7. I totally agree with you. We were in Asda and I saw them. Thomas picked up a pink one and the cashier was like 'oh put that back, it's for girls, get a blue one' and that was it... My angry head came on and I started speaking loudly (not quite a shout) about how my child could pick whichever he wanted as toys are not for specific sexes and he would be happy with what ever he got!

    I think Kinder really messed up here

  8. I hate to see so many pink things - it's unnecessary to label everything up like that.

  9. Totally don't see the need for Kinder Surprise to be gender specific. I hate this 'need' for pink toys.

  10. I have twins, a boy and a girl, I did stereotyping and gender bias in Psych too, also for my counselling course, it grates with me, however my two both played with all the toys for may years together, both having a play with a tool bench, train set, then both playing with dolls. I was told it was cissy to let my son do this, funny not much at my daughter as feminism has made it politically incorrect. They were bought presents that were geared towards their sex and I did not make issue. Art books and crayons in boy girl colours etc. However all these things has made no difference with how they started to play, grow and lean towards the gender they felt comfy with (their own) I feel my two are more balanced and are not restricted by gender stereotype. I have blogged about my hate for pink, its strange we do not hear as much angst towards male gender stereotyping.


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