Australian folklore defines the Yowie as an elusive, hairy, sasquatch-like creature, said to move like a crab and occasionally slaughter farm-dogs and livestock. In the late 90s and early 2000s Yowies were better known as the anthropomorphic choco-eggs, who, when splayed open, contained the parts to various plastic animals. Small and fiddly, construction often required the assistance of a dexterous adult, not to mention their watchful eye in case one didn’t heed the choking warnings. When public interest died down in 2005, the Yowie went extinct from Australian shelves, soon reincarnated again overseas. Adapting for the U.S. audience, the Yowie replaced its Australian fauna with groundhogs and bald eagles; parts larger and trickier to fit into the wider diameter of the average American windpipe.
Now in 2017, Yowies have apparently returned to our shelves – but what shelves? I’ve hardly been able to find them. Only about 3% of the stores I’ve visited in the last few months have actually stocked Yowies, making their vamped-up return something of an anticlimax. However, during this time I’ve noticed that the Kinder Surprise, Yowie’s oldest competitor, is becoming an increasingly larger and more extravagant presence in confectionary aisles. After having the reign on the choco-egg market for the last 10 years, Kinder must surely feel the threat of losing their kingpin status to Yowie again. In true Murdoch fashion, the Swedish Baby Boomers are doing everything they can to hold on to their crumbling egg-pire.
I’m not sure how high I should hold the cut-throat world of marketing, but to me, Kinder’s tricks have gone far beyond the rules of friendly competition. All I see is foul play, and I hope that when you read my notes below, the Kinder egg’s fall from grace will become immediately obvious:
- Kinder’s packaging and displays have been significantly enlarged, taking up more shelf room and literally pushing other products from the same aisle. If the Mint Patties and Curly Wurlies can only barely fit in there, how the hell is a box of Yowies going to make the shelf?
- Taking a page from the Yowie books, Kinder recently introduced three different variants of their products – boy egg (blue tint), girl egg (pink tint), and minion egg (yellow tint and a picture of minion). The illusion of choice is there I guess, but the execution is completely morally and socially backwards. Didn’t Kinder hear that gender is a construct? How come I have to choose between girl, boy or Minion? Yowie’s several colours at least represented the diverse ecological biomes of Australia; each colour a distinctive character and personality, guardians of their respective deserts or swamps or whatever. The Yowie colour purchased by the consumer was said to show a deep reflection of the individual’s true Self. Like reading a horoscope or taking the Myers Briggs Test, the act of choosing one’s Guardian was very spiritual, nothing like the capitalist gender-normativity of the godless Kinder egg.
- In 2013, Jesse and I had a comic called The Democratic People’s Republic of Yowie, but after receiving a concerning letter addressed from “Yowie Group LTD.” we were forced to add an extra E to the end. I doubt Yowie Corp would have ever taken legal action against us, because that seems to contradict everything that the Yowies were said to stand for: freedom, mateship, a fair go, love. I can guess with certainty that it was in fact Kinder who sent us the letter, wolves dressed like sheep, trying to stifle any public brand-awareness for their competitor’s product.
A teen once told me how he shoplifted a Kinder Surprise from Midland Centrepoint. Curious, I asked him what toy he got. “Didn’t look,” he said. “Just walked out, and then I crushed it in my hand.” Hearing that story expanded my borders of reality. Never before had I ever even considered the possibility of anyone doing anything like that – but the next day there I was, standing in the Mundaring Coles beside a freshly crushed egg. I never did this again, nor do I encourage it, but from looking at the evidence above, I do indeed believe that taking from Kinder makes you something of a Robin Hood.
Only a short trip from my house stands the Yowie Corp headquarters, an inconspicuous skyscraper on St. Georges Terrace. A true sneakerhead in my Air Jordans, I sprinted through the city, resumes flapping in my arms as I weaved between business men and construction equipment. I was looking for jobs that day, and thought that I might as well inquire about employment from the CEO after I’d shared with them my intel on Kinder. But when I opened Yowie’s office doors, I was not prepared for the mess inside.
In the middle of the room lay the CEO Alex Howard, bloated on his back and unconscious. Surrounding him stood a vast landscape of torn-up egg foil and broken capsules, instances of plastic wildlife amidst it. Stepping over bandicoots and sea cucumbers I went to check if the man was still breathing. He was, but barely; dried chocolate had smudged up his airways and even when I cleared them he didn’t arise. Soon enough the ambulance came and there I was, alone in Yowie headquarters.
Although I had saved his life (which you’d think was already a pretty good reason to employ someone), I thought I would further demonstrate my initiative by tidying the office before he got back. As I began to sweep up the desecrated Yowie eggs, I noticed how the foil made the room glitter and sparkle, as if you had just walked in to a cartoon treasure cave. It gave me an idea. Here was a chance to really go above and beyond in impressing the boss: not only would he be coming back to a sparklingly clean office – he’d be coming back to a sparklingly beautiful Great Work of Art.
Within three hours the room was clear of foil and figurines, rearranged on the carpet to spell “HELLO HANDSOME” in big, bright, spectacular letters. I had read in a book how employers love to be flattered and bombarded with unconditional love even before you’ve landed a job, because employment is scarce and you have to play the game to win.
As I was admiring my calligraphy, the office door whooshed open and the majority of my work was again scattered in the gust. A tanned woman in a pantsuit entered the room, more trashed than before with only the first four letters remaining legible. She gasped “What in the… “Hell?” What is –”
“Uh sorry madam,” I cut her off. “The boss isn’t here at the moment and I can’t, uh, there was an accident and like ah, I don’t think I can have anyone in here without like an appointment. But I can give you Mr. Howard’s phone number if you want?”
She looked at me, very mad. “Firstly, this is my office, and I demand to know who you are, and what you are doing here, and what our stock is doing obliterated over the room.”
“Oh wait, so you’re Alex Howard. Right, cool, sorry, yeah I was hoping to speak with you because I was wondering if I could –”
“Wondering if you could what? Write an offensive word on our carpet? What’s next? Pornography? Yowie… Rule 34?”
“No, no, uhh I came in and there was a guy, the CEO and –”
“We have no CEO here, so that’s not- wait you say there was someone here?”
“Yeah, a guy passed out on the floor. He’d eaten too much I think. I had to call an ambulance and then he was gone.”
The woman (Mrs Howard I supposed) stormed past me to the back wall where there hung a large portrait of Whitegum Wisebeard, fictional grandfather of the Yowies. She dislodged the painting and hidden behind was the unlocked door of an empty safe, contents consumed and torn up on the floor.
“Bastards. They’ve taken everything. Our entire first series – gone.”
“I reckon the guy ate them. Probably worked for Kinder.”
“Shit, that was the last of them too. Several hundred grands worth. Do you know who he was?”
“Well I thought he was CEO, but he probably works for Kinder.”
“No, we own Kinder. Maybe if we call forensics they could trace him if there’s evidence left.”
“I don’t think there will be. Like I polished and cleaned up pretty much everything.”
“Yeah, I thought… you might’ve liked to return to a clean office.”
“With the word Hell?”
“It was supposed to say Hello Handsome.” She did not reply. “I thought Alex was a man’s name.” I added, but still she said nothing. “Also, while I’m still here, I was wondering if I could leave you my resume?”
I held it out and she took it with limp hands to stare at it blankly. “We’ll get back to you” she said in a faint mumble, nodding in confusion.
Exiting the building I saw the reflection of Mrs Howard, surrounded in the gleaming litter, elbows shaking.
Words by Rainy Colbert, art by Lilli Foskett
This article first appeared in volume 88 edition 5 HOME