Surprises in the Kitchen

by Graziella Carbone

2010 – The Friends of the Mill
The first promotion of the year featured the Treats-Creator molds, a series of 12 subjects biscuit molds and an excellent opportunity to get your hands “in the dough” to create Friends of the Mill biscuits. More than 10 million molds were made. Obviously, as an in-store operation, a game book could not be missing. So we printed “Hands in the dough” by Friends of the Mill, with lots of tips, recipes, games and quizzes …
An alternative to the book was the Hands in Pasta Kit, consisting of a miniature rolling pin and two molds.
From August 20 of 2010, in the packs of Flutes, Saccottino and Pan Goccioli ten 3D characters of the Friends of the Mill could be found. These could be completed with a special cut out box you could make using the snack packs. The series included: Milk, the scientist; Al, the explorer; Ciock, the playful; Cocca, the artist; Cao, the little poet; Goccio, the sportsman; Sac, the funny guy; Tino, the strongest; Macy, the juggler; Grì Grì, the stylist. These characters had to have a world in which to act and become real protagonists of many stories. So I thought of a scene set of the Valley of the Friends of the Mill. Thus the operation called GameBook 4 was created to build the backdrop set of the Valley of the Friends of the mill, and it was offered to those who bought two packs of snacks in the supermarkets that adhered to the in-store promotion. For this game book I was inspired by the world of the Friends of the Mill which was well described on the website.
The GameBook consisted of the board (base) and pre-cut cards with which to build the Mill and the three houses of the Friends of the Mill. There were also some very nice cows, bunnies and chickens, the tree of Milk, Ciock and Al (where the characters could be made to climb), the greenhouse of Cao and Cocca, the field of Goccio and the Mil that had a wheel that could turn. For the first time it was also possible to see the interiors of the greenhouse, the little house of Goccio and the Mill. A real three-dimensional game (like some other Little Surprises of those times), the cover of which became the backdrop. To play, children placed the 3D character they would find in the snack pack on the starting line – in the Adventure area of ​​Milk, Ciock and Al. Using the playing cards inserted in the GameBook with printed quiz questions, when a correct answer was given, they progressed on the board of as many squares as indicated on the card itself. In case of a wrong answer, they would stay still until the next turn. They passed through the Nature area of ​​Cao and Cocca and the Sports area of ​​Goccio to arrive at the Buona Merenda del Mulino area. Whoever arrived first to the finish won the game. In practice, it was a kind of Snakes and Ladders game that, while belonging to the area of traditional games, had been revisited in a more modern and current form. It took me almost two months to prepare the questions / answers: I had to document myself on all the topics: Milk – science experiments, Ciock who loves games and movement, Al who explores the world and is super curious.
The game was printed by a famous lithographer in Sardinia in Macomer. As always, I went to visit  the start of printing operations (which lasted three days) to check that everything was as per the materials sent and to be sure of the colours, especially for the famous Mulino Bianco yellow, very difficult to print correctly.
Both promotions were previewed during the “Little Surprises Day” in Chiusdino, in the province of Siena, where the advertising Mill for “When the Mills were white”, the Mulino delle Pile, really exists. The event brought together 200 collectors of our Little Surprises toys and was organized to present to fans and the press the start of the Little Surprises Blog (it went on for years telling the story of the Promotions), where the Little Surprises Catalogue was inserted (the work with the photographer lasted for several months, with image and data sheets compiled by me and many Surprises to photograph that we borrowed from Sandra’s collection, in addition to the work of the Historical Archives). In addition, we introduced the first Digital Surprises (they became active starting from the following year). I had the pleasure of being the guest of honour at the “Little Surprises Day” and for more than two hours I narrated anecdotes about our Little Surprises (which I included in the various years of reference). What a thrill to meet the most famous collectors in Italy. Each of them had arrived with their own archive, to be exhibited and with their own baggage of Little Surprises to exchange. I too brought a small box. The most “courted” were the original drawings of the NightOwls, but we did not succumb to the flattery of collectors … and they are still in my archives, waiting to find a place at the Barilla Historical Archives. I don’t know how many autographs I signed … so many. I was really happy!
The two promotions, in-pack and in-store, of that year were independent from each other (you could only collect the characters or play with the GameBook) but also really complementary.
And anyway, with the purchase of an extra pack of snacks, you could also have the Friends of the Mill felt-tip pens.
Furthermore, from 2010 to 2015, the Friends of the Mill became a digital project to develop the children’s relation to technology, and to offer an educational and entertainment platform where children and parents interacted with the Brand.
On the wave of the icons of the past, on Sunday October 24 in Perugia, as part of the closing event of Eurochocolate, the Soldino Day (Chocolate Coin Day) was held, during which the largest Soldino (chocolate Coin) in the world was presented. Thus, this entered the Guinness Book of Records. It had a diameter of 3.5 meters. For the occasion, the “Guess how much it weighs” competition was launched and a limited edition tin box was also created.