General Question

randomness's avatar

Americans, why are your eggs so white?

Asked by randomness (1327points) December 27th, 2009

In every movie, documentary, and picture I’ve seen of eggs in America, the eggs are a bright white. It’s like someone left them to soak in bleach prior to selling them. All of the eggs are identical, and as white as snow, like little albino clones…. It looks incredibly strange.

So Americans, are all of your eggs like this? Do you buy eggs like this? Why are the eggs so white, and why are they all the exact same shape and size? Do you have special identical albino chickens to make your identical albino eggs, or do you do something to the eggs to make them identical and colourless?

To help with this question…

Eggs where I come from:

Terrifying army of American eggs:

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56 Answers

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iphigeneia's avatar

I’m not American, but if I remember correctly, it’s just a cultural thing. In some countries they prefer white eggs, in others they prefer brown eggs. The colour is dependent on the breed of chicken, so in America they mostly farm white-egg chickens, and in other countries they may farm brown-egg chickens.

gemiwing's avatar

You can buy non-white eggs in the US. They cost more but they are available readily.

Most eggs in photo shoots look all alike for a reason. Eggs are sold in different sizes so when you see a carton of eggs, they will all be of the same size category.

randomness's avatar

@iphigeneia Thanks. So perhaps Americans just prefer whiter eggs, and some other groups prefer browner eggs.

@gemiwing When I buy a carton of eggs, they will be about the same size, sure, but they won’t be identical. They are all different colours, and some are quite noticeably larger than others, but still similar enough to fall within a set weight range. Why are these US eggs so identical??

Pazza's avatar

I didn’t know americans layed eggs!

randomness's avatar

@Pazza Ha ha!! I like it!!!

gemiwing's avatar

@randomness Like was said above- they all look alike because they are from the same breed of chicken. They also run them through a factory with multiple checkpoints. So once the slightly odd ones are removed, the rest will all look very similar.

randomness's avatar

@gemiwing Wow…. I think our eggs mostly come from the same breed, but they’re all so different… Crazy…
Do you know what they do with the eggs that are different? Do they just throw them away, or do they use them for other things?

JustPlainBarb's avatar

Well I’m from the US, and I buy brown organic eggs. We have the option to buy white or brown eggs. Actually, I’m buying more “Egg Beaters” which are healthier than eating real eggs.

gemiwing's avatar

@randomness It depends at what checkpoint the eggs are taken off of the line. Some are used in egg mixes if the shell is malformed but the innards are fine. Others are simply discarded.

Seek's avatar

It’s because Americans are strange, picky animals. We demand everything be perfect, and for some reason have determined that white eggs are better (except for those people that think brown eggs are healthier/taste better, and worth paying double for). Americans are obsessed with controlling nature to suit her fancy, and thus everything is micromanaged to the nth degree – including the colour of one of the most natural foods we eat on a daily basis.

daemonelson's avatar

It’s quite simple, really. Back in the winter of 1952, there was a freak accident. A leak in radiation in a power-plant caused all of the chickens in a nearby farm to merge together, forming one big mega-chicken. As if that weren’t terrible enough. This chicken was mutated into the most evil of evils. A ranga.

As a result of this, the pasty, white complexion of the was passed along to the eggs of the mass-distributing anuses of the mega-chicken.

This mega-chicken wasn’t just content with laying many thousands more eggs than an entire farm usually produced in a day, it wished for greater conquest. The mega-chicken went on a rampage across the country, devouring every chicken it could find, merging their anuses with its own, further increasing its laying capacity.

By 1957 every last chicken had been absorbed into the mega-chicken. It’s albino-eggs being popped out in the millions. And alas, the normal-looking egg was extinct from the continent.

It was a grim day for chicken-kind.

gemiwing's avatar

If you get a chance try to find Dirty Jobs episode 7, season 4 “Egg Farm”. It’s an interesting look at the whole process.

john65pennington's avatar

2nd Answer. Americans apparently prefer white eggs to any other color. one can prove this by visiting a grocery store. brown eggs are available, but white eggs outsell brown eggs at least by a two to one margin.

sfj's avatar

We all know that many people are ‘visual’ and if something looks appealing we are more likely to buy it or eat it. Even though something might taste wonderful, if it looks gross, we aren’t likely to taste it.
White eggs are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The whiteness may mean to some consumers as cleanliness or purity. My guess is that in America, eggs are white because of the hens they come from and what the hens are fed.
FYI: there is no difference in taste or healthiness between brown eggs and white. The nutritional value is the same.
What gets me is the sizes of eggs here in America. Long ago, an extra large egg was indeed extra large. Today, extra large in my opinion, a small egg but the price is that of extra large eggs. I don’t buy eggs except on holidays when I make deviled eggs and because the eggs are small, I have to buy two dozen now instead of one like I did in the past. Go figure.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I prefer brown eggs, but most people here do buy the white ones for some reason, so while most stores carry both now they always have far more white ones. And they’re sorted by size – you can buy a carton of extra large eggs, large eggs, medium eggs, or small eggs. Hence why they look like a creepy clonal race.

autumn43's avatar

‘Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!’ This has stuck in my head for years. It’s from a commercial for eggs. I have always bought brown eggs, except at Easter time when I buy the white eggs so we can dye them.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i buy brown eggs. I don’t taste any difference, and i don’t see why it’s even an issue.

raylrodr's avatar

My chickens lay mostly the large, brown eggs, but my bantys lay rather small, white ones.

janbb's avatar

To go with the red and blue in our flag.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Most eggs sold in northern New England are brown. In fact the local advert slogan is “Brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are best”.

Harp's avatar

There’s an economic reason as well: Breeds that lay white eggs tend to be bigger, and so are more costly to feed and house. This accounts for the price difference in white and brown eggs.

White Leghorns are the breed used by the vast majority of large-scale egg producers in the States because they’re extremely efficient layers (about 280 eggs per hen per year) and lay year round. They grow to only 3–4 pounds. They’re perfect little egg-laying machines.

mrentropy's avatar

I’m going to go with the cultural thing. Thinking back, even when I was growing up, picture books and kids magazines (like Highlights) always seemed to show eggs as being white, not brown. I normally go for white eggs and I guess that’s because I was “brought up” thinking that eggs should be white.

Now I’m just cheap frugal and go for what’s cost effective.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

According to Henderson’s Handy Dandy Chicken Chart, it’s all about the breed of chicken.

As far as production and consumption, in most parts of the country, it’s all about the price:

Brown Eggs = $1.99 doz.
Organic Brown Eggs = $3.39 doz.
Large White Eggs = $1.49 doz.

eponymoushipster's avatar

chicken racism

laureth's avatar

I buy our eggs at the farmer’s market. They are fairly mixed, since it’s whatever that farmer’s chickens laid in the last few days. Brown, white, bigger or smaller, some more rounded or pointy. Every single one of them tastes better than a grocery store egg, and even though they’re slightly more expensive, they’re totally worth it. I am American.

However, I believe I’m an unusual American in this regard. I prefer the tastier produce, even if it’s lumpy or misshapen. I buy more food from farmers and less from grocers, if I can. I can’t explain my fellow countrypeople, who often appear to prefer “what looks good” to “what is good.”

Also: I do not understand how brown eggs are necessarily “local.” Egg color is related to the breed of chicken, not the place, and every egg is local to someone, somewhere. Unless eggs bleach themselves with increasing distance from the nest, this is hooey.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@laureth, I envy you having a farmer’s market. Ours are only on Saturday mornings, for four hours, in various church parking lots. There is no consistency about what’s available at each one, and sometimes you have to make the rounds to several across town to find what you want.

laureth's avatar

My city would rebel if the farmer’s market closed. :) We’re a town of foodies and hippies.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@daemonelson Great story. Trouble is the first nuclear power plant didn’t go online in the US until 1957 (Shippingport, PA).

JesusWasAJewbot's avatar

We are creating a master race through our very white eggs filled with steroids.

Judi's avatar

@randomness ; Eggs are just one weirdness. You should see our grocery stored! You would not believe the frozen food aisle. There are so many choices it would make your head spin. There are even frozen vegetables with the butter already put in. Not to mention hundreds of choices of microwavable frozen meals.

janbb's avatar

Seriously though, there is getting to be more choice in eggs as people have said. Brown, organic and cage-free eggs are now readily available, albeit more expensive. As @laureth has mentioned, these are not necessarily more local; many come from the same large distributors as the white eggs. (There is probably now only one large factory chicken farm in the whole United States.:-)) People who live in areas where there are farm markets or local small farms have more choices still.

AstroChuck's avatar

All I buy are free-range, veg-fed chicken eggs. Sometimes they are white; sometimes they are brown. I can’t tell any difference in taste.

kevbo's avatar

Re: bleach, it doesn’t affect the color, but commercial eggs are washed/rinsed with a chlorine solution.

laureth's avatar

That’s probably more to wash off chicken poop than it is to change the color, though.

ccrow's avatar

I remember the little song about brown eggs too, you guys must be from New England?? It was my understanding that people in the rest of the country preferred white eggs. At any rate, when I was growing up, the only time there were white eggs was at Easter, for dyeing.
Anyway I buy brown eggs. :-)

Jeruba's avatar

Where I grew up in Massachusetts (quite a long time ago), we saw white eggs in the local grocery stores only at Easter time, when we’d be wanting to dye them. Otherwise they were brown. I remember asking my mother about the white ones, and she said, “They come from New York. They have the white eggs in New York because New Yorkers think the brown ones look dirty. We like the brown ones here in New England because we think the brown ones look healthy. Inside they’re all just eggs.”

I didn’t notice her omission of the rest of the country in her generalization. That was New England. There was no special need for the rest of the country to exist.

Here in California, I can find both in the stores.

answerjill's avatar

In New England, where I live, brown eggs are commonly sold. Thanks to those who brought up that old jingle!

answerjill's avatar

On the other hand, I bought some local eggs at a Massachusetts farmer’s market recently and each egg was a different color!

Val123's avatar

Because we only allow white, English speaking chickens in America.

lamedb's avatar

@randomness Not sure if someone told you what they do with the rejected eggs. The eggs you buy in a grocery store are usually the grade ‘A’ eggs. All the eggs that went through the sorting process and weren’t deemed the best grade (meaning the shape is not uniform or to standard, these is a small crack in the shell that doesn’t effect the quality, etc) are sent to factories where they will use those eggs for the food industry.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Do you know how long the white egg has been keeping the brown egg oppressed? Why, since it first crossed the road, the white egg has sought for so-called moral superiority and position in society! the so-called “brown” egg has been kept down – forced to provide supposed better nutrition and contriteness to non-vegan hipsters and foodies. It’s Omega-6 richness held down by the white egg and it’s pasty shell!~

/louis faracluck

ubersiren's avatar

LOL at “Terrifying army of American eggs.”

AstroChuck's avatar

@Val123- We have speaking chickens here in the Golden State?

Val123's avatar

@AstroChuck Wull…what does “cluck cluck” say to you? :)

rooeytoo's avatar

lurve to @eponymoushipster – you are in great form, hehehe.

I had a brown chicken, she lays brown eggs, they are very tasty.

daemonelson's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Thanks for that one. I knew it was in the fifties, I just couldn’t remember which year, so I guessed.

texasescimo's avatar

I have not read all of the answers, but most of what you buy at the store are eggs from leghorns. Leghorn hens are small and require very little feed but lay a large white egg. Currently we have two leghorns, one rhode island red, and one americana. The RIR’s are a large red hen that lays a large brown egg. They are a good dual purpose hen, good for layen and good for fryen. The americana is similar to the araucana, both laying greenish to bluish eggs. Ours lays medium sized green eggs. We don’t have many chickens left as they are free range and the hawks and owls around here eat pretty well.

autumn43's avatar

Foghorn LEGHORN had that name because he really was a Leghorn hen? Wow. I learned something new today. I just thought that sounded good with his first name!

texasescimo's avatar

Leghorn rooster anyway. Lol. My wife had named one of our roosters foghorn. He was bullying his brother so we gave him to a friend.

rooeytoo's avatar

It’s a national pride thing, they are white to match the stars and stripes!

janbb's avatar

@rooeytoo See my answer far above. :-)

rooeytoo's avatar

hehehe, I thought I had read them all, either I missed reading yours or it gave me subliminal inspiration.


janbb's avatar

@rooeytoo “Subliminal inspiration” – I like it!

Mikelbf2000's avatar

It,s the breed of the chicken. I have had brown eggs before.

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