In ruling NY N324256 (February 14, 2022), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the tariff classification of dolomite ceramic bowls and spreaders from China. The dolomite bowls come in three styles, each a three-dimensional representation of a different character. The entire product in itself is comprised of a glazed ceramic dolomite bowl, a removable spreader knife with a glazed dolomite handle, and a stainless steel knife blade. The handle of the knife is designed to depict the character’s hat and rests in a slot behind the character’s head when it is not being used. Collectively, the bowl and spreader knife measures approximately 5.43 inches long by 5.31 inches wide by 4.3 inches high and weight 396 grams. The articles are suitable for food or drink contact alike.

The first style is a depiction of Santa Claus, with the open-top bowl as Santa’s belly wearing his Santa Suit. Santa’s arms reach around his belly while his head protrudes up from the edge of the bowl. The decorative handle of the knife is Santa’s hat and, when wresting in the open slot, appears to sit on his head. The second style is a depiction of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with the open-top bowl as Rudolph’s belly. Rudolph is also shown with his arms reaching around his belly while his protruding head features his classic red nose. The decorative knife handle for this piece features a red, green, and white hat that appears to sit on Rudolph’s head. The third and final piece depicts a snowman with his arms reaching around his belly. The snowman’s head protrudes the edge of the bowl and is shown wearing a black top hat on his head.

CBP referred to the Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Tariff System for guidance in the interpretation of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System at the international level. They note that EN X to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b) states that:

“goods put up in sets for retail sale” means goods that: (a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings; (b) consist of articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and (c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking.

Under GRI 3(b), goods that fit this description are classified as if they consisted of the material or component that gives the good its essential character. This may be determined by “the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight, or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the article.” CBP found that each style of ceramic bowl with its knife spreader is a set for tariff classification purposes and that the essential character is imparted by the ceramic bowl.

CBP determined that the applicable subheading for the ceramic bowls with knife spreaders was 6912.00.4810, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “Ceramic tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, other than porcelain or china: Tableware and kitchenware: Other: Other: Other: Other…Suitable for food or drink contact.”  The rate of duty is 9.8% ad valorem.

In addition, CBP also determined that subheading 9817.95.05, HTSUS, which provides for “Utilitarian articles in the form of a three-dimensional representation of a symbol or motif clearly associated with a specific holiday in the United States” cannot be used for duty free treatment for the snowman bowl. This is due to the fact that the snowman is considered a season motif rather than a motif specially linked to a particular holiday.