New column alert! Inspector of Gadgets is a new series that will investigate, critique, and experiment with some of the most idiosyncratic single-use kitchen utensils on the market (or found on eBay). The goal is to figure out why on earth these items are, or were ever, “a thing.” Which ones will genuinely surprise us, and which ones will leave us wishing we hadn’t blown $9.99?
To kick off this column, I decided to start by trying out the Eggstractor, a device that exists to make your hard-boiled-egg-peeling chores a dream. The Eggstractor uses the magic of compressed air to crap eggs out of its bottom, completely shell-free. Or it’s supposed to. In theory, this tool will make your life easier if you eat 400 eggs per day, or if you’re allergic to hard-boiled eggs that aren’t as smooth as Michael Bublé’s voice.
As you can see from the photo above, it’s only composed of two parts. One is the three-legged base, and the other is the accordion-like top that you’re supposed to violently press down in order for the Eggstractor to shit out the egg. You have no idea how excited I was for this package to arrive from whoever was selling it on eBay.
When I received it, the outer packaging that it was shipped in was covered in a disturbing amount of hair. After staring at the hair for much longer than I should have, trying to determine its provenance, I came to the conclusion that it was either dog hair or short human hair. While this has nothing to do with the device itself (the Eggstractor inside was pristine), this really felt like a detail I needed to share with you. And now I have.
As the box says, “The Magic of the patented Eggstractor is Pure Science!” Based off the strategically placed Capital Letters, I was already convinced. This thing was about to save humanity, using Pure Science.
There’s a section of an unshelled hard-boiled egg that is just a gap of air between the egg and the shell. The Eggstractor box also uses Capital Letters to describe it as the Air Cell. When you squash down the bellows part of the device, the air compression is supposed to force the air from that tiny little pocket between the cooked egg and the shell, separating the two. That’s when the egg gets violently blown out of the little hole on the bottom, between the three legs of the stand. It’s suggested that you use large or extra-large eggs, so I opted for the extra-large eggs, aka the only eggs I had in the refrigerator.
And, handily, there are a bunch of suggested recipes included with the instructions, such as the classic dish “Hard Cooked Eggs With Apples” (which is exactly what it sounds like) and omelets (which do not require the use of an Eggstractor).
I then noticed this little curious little cone on the base, thinking it was part of some mechanism to keep the bellow in place while you performed CPR-like compressions on the thing, but it’s actually there for a practical reason.
You’re supposed to tap the Air Cell side of the egg on it, puncturing the shell. The instructions also call this side of the egg the “small end,” which is kind of an endearing description. You are also supposed to give the “large end” a few cracks. This was already veering toward being about as much work as it takes to peel a hard-boiled egg by hand.
The final part of the instructions did indicate that this might not work right out of the gate, at least until I got the hang of it.
“The Eggstactor [sic] is fun for the whole family. It may take you a couple tries to get the hang of it, so if the first time your eggs don’t come out perfectly take a breather and give it another try. We guarantee you’ll get it right, just make sure you follow the Eggstructions Eggsactly! If you follow the Eggstructions Eggsactly you will be an Eggspert Eggstractor!”
Eggstructions. Eggsactly. Eggspert. Time to temper my eggspectations.
After I hard boiled nine eggs (that was exactly how many I had left in our current carton), I let them cool off in ice water for a few, then I rolled up my sleeves to finally take this puppy for a spin.
I put the top on, and gave the accordion a rapid push downwards as swiftly as I could without getting violent. A fast hissing sound ensued, then nothing happened. My inaugural attempt was a failure. I hung my head in shame and scuffed my feet on the floor. After examining the egg, I found that it had simply tilted onto its side, so I realigned it and reset the top. I tried again. The egg had slipped the same way. I repeated this and became very sad and frustrated.
Then, humming the theme song to Rocky in my head, I pumped again. The same thing happened.
“Fuck it,” I said. “I can’t give up.”
I decided to go hyper-Eggstractor, and I jumped up and down, pushing down on the egg accordion—and finally, I felt something other than the sweat that was starting to form on my forehead.
When I looked down, I was greeted with a a really mangled egg yolk that had bits of white still attached to it, along with egg debris everywhere. I wish I could have seen this thing flying out the bottom of the device.
I couldn’t believe it finally worked. If you can call this working.
How did this even happen? This is amazing! The starter cracks in the egg were on the top and the bottom, not the side, where the yolk had clearly rocketed out from. I wish I was a forensic physicist, because this sure as hell looks like a crime scene to me. There are so many things I wish I could put together, but my pea-sized brain was having a hard time coming to terms with what I was seeing.
With the confidence of my initial success (is success the right word?), I attacked another egg. This one was even more mind-boggling.
This is unbelievable. That yolk is almost 100% naked aside from that little crown of egg white on top. I mean, just look at how (almost) perfectly that yolk popped out, unscathed. Attempt after attempt, I ended up with a bunch of devastated eggs, none of which had peeled properly.
To see if that batch of eggs was just prone to sticking to their shells, I peeled one manually for comparison’s sake. It came out smooth and perfect. They say that older eggs are ideal; these were indeed refrigerator-aged eggs that had been hanging around for weeks.
I snacked on the perfect manually peeled egg, remarking to myself on how terrible the kitchen smelled, and thought, “What if I put a raw egg in this thing?” So I grabbed a fresh raw egg from a new carton, tapped both sides with the little pokey thing on the Eggstractor, and gave it a good shove.
I don’t think I need to say much other than, please nominate me for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. I may not have gotten a bunch of perfectly peeled hard-boiled eggs out of the Eggstractor test, but I am walking away with one of the best food photos ever taken. Thank you for being with me on my journey, and egg, pray, love.