Free Market(ish)

May 22nd, 2015 - Nic Halley

Why are Kinder Surprise eggs illegal in the USA?

I actually used Kinder Surprise eggs as a case study in a masters paper. To answer the legal question, the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act is the law most cited to justify the embargo on Kinder Eggs. Because a toy is kept inside a confection, Kinder eggs are embargoed from point of entry into the US.

As someone who has given Ferrero Kinder eggs to my children while living in Europe, I can state that for a child over the age of three, these eggs are perfectly safe. The capsule holding the toy is too large for a small child to swallow, and is almost impossible for adults, let alone children, to open easily. Plus there are plenty of warnings on the foil packaging advising parents not to give the confection to children under the age of three.

While conducting research on this paper, I discovered that Mars actively lobbied the US government to have confections with interior toys banned any time a similar product comes on the market. For instance, in 1997, when Nestlé tried to introduce (the similar) Magic chocolate balls in the US, Mars was instrumental in promoting civil action to prevent the marketing of this product.

And believe me, getting caught trying to ‘smuggle’ Kinder eggs into the US is not much fun. We had friends travelling into the US from Canada who packed 10 Kinder eggs in their luggage for their children (all over the age of five) for Easter. Customs and Border Protection not only confiscated the Kinder eggs, but also fined the family $1,200 [£787] per egg, or $12,000 [£7,870] total. So, don’t try this, unless you’re willing to pay a hefty price.

Sarah Beiting



Big news for Twitter.

May 20th, 2015 - Nic Halley

With Twitter deal, Google searches show tweets

Google and Twitter made the announcement Tuesday.

“It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening,” Ardan Arac, senior product manager for Google, wrote in a blog post. “And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments.”

Key phrases such as Mad Men and Malcolm X will turn up tweets as will searches for hashtags such as #NBADraftLottery.

The new service is only available in English and on desktops for the time being.

“When tapping on a tweet in Google search, you’ll be taken directly to Twitter where you can view the Tweet and discover additional content,” Jana Messerschmidt, vice president of global business development & platform at Twitter said in a blog post. “By deeply integrating Twitter’s real-time content into Google search, we hope you find it easier than ever to explore your interests across both Twitter and Google.”

Twitter and Google inked the deal in February to give Google access to the half billion daily tweets and show them in search results.

Twitter is banking the exposure in search results will drive more traffic and more interest in its service, prompting more people to join. Twitter has 303 million monthly active users. It has lagged Facebook in popularity and struggled to attract new users.


May 17th, 2015 - Nic Halley

Google reportedly wants to put a ‘Buy’ button in your search results.


If Google has its way, you could find a ‘Buy’ button accompanying those search results very soon.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the search giant will introduce buy buttons in search results some time in the next few weeks, citing sources familiar with the rollout. The buttons would appear alongside paid search results on mobile in the “Shop on Google” section, starting with a small number of searches. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

Shoppers who click on a buy button will be shuttled to another Google product page, where they can customize their orders and choose a shipping method before completing their purchase. Currently, users who click on items in the “Shop on Google” section, are shuttled to the product page on the retailer’s site, making for an uneven shopping experience, depending on how easy or challenging it is to navigate around the retailer’s site.

While the products will still be sold by independent retailers (not Google) — and Google does not plan on taking a cut from each purchase — adding a buy button feature is more significant for Google than it might seem, at first. remains the number one most-trafficked site and most-used search engine in the world — a potent combination, given it already plants paid ads atop search pages for retailers.

A buy button could make it easier for Internet users to purchase from inside their search results, allowing for a more consistent shopping experience and potentially reducing the number of clicks needed to make a transaction.

The feature also helps better position Google as an e-commerce force against companies like Amazon, with its 270 million-plus shoppers each month, and eBay, which reports more than 157 million users. Google, undoubtedly would like to reach a point where its own marketplace experience is so simple and low-friction that many Internet users would rather do their shopping right from their Google search results instead of heading elsewhere.

In recent years, the tech giant has slowly inched its way into e-commerce, streamlining paid search results, and rolling out its same-day delivery service, Google Shopping Express, which remains limited to seven U.S. markets, including Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.