When I was young I used to get sent to the shop to buy eggs whenever our Bantams hadn’t laid enough. In those days eggs came in brown paper bags and often did not make it home whole. Nowadays eggs come in specially designed cardboard or plastic containers and are graded according to weight. People pay higher prices for the smaller eggs than they do for extra large eggs, apparently in an attempt to institute an egg consumer’s version of Schumacher’s “small is beautiful”. Everything is standardised and labeled and chook poo is verboten. These days families are protected from fights amongst the children as to who is going to get the unexpected double yolker. The cartons are stamped with use by dates and the possibility of the house filling with rotten egg gas as the shells are broken is becoming a distant memory. The presence of police video cameras at political demonstrations, coupled with the increasing propensity of magistrates to hand down custodial sentences for throwing rotten eggs, is decreasing the numbers of eggs thrown. The other major change which has occurred since my youth is the increasing variety of eggs on offer in supermarkets. Organic, free range, Omega 3 heart eggs and even battery hen eggs. But my favorite marketing strategy is the RSPCA Barn Laid brand. Creating the image of a kind inspector holding the chook’s claw and providing a midwife like reassurance during the egg laying.

Published in Social Alternatives circa 2005