We take eggs for granted. I’m so used to seeing them in my fridge that I sometimes forget they’re produced by living creatures and, as such, can vary wildly in form and function. When we buy a dozen eggs at the supermarket, they’ve already been sorted into nearly uniform shapes and sizes and colors for us, deviating only slightly in shape and length, so it’s easy to overlook how many types of eggs are really out there. And that’s where the fascinating subreddit r/WeirdEggs comes in.
If the name “Weird Eggs” didn’t give it away, this really is just a subreddit—42,000 subscribers and counting—where people post the strangest eggs they encounter, or, as the tagline for the page puts it, “A place to post the weirdest of eggs.” What counts as a weird egg? Well, there’s are the fairly standard weird double-yolked eggs, which aren’t hugely uncommon but are nonetheless surprising to crack into. But beyond that, the weirdness of the eggs starts getting intense.
One post shows three eggs in a frying pan. One of them has a single yolk, one has a double, and the other one has no yolk at all, which I didn’t think was even possible. Another post shows an egg with the palest yolk I’ve ever seen (it’s almost disturbing, it looks like custard). And yet another post shows an egg that has not one, but two layers of shell, which feels sort of like the egg version of the movie Inception. (Eggception?)
If anything, this just goes to show how far removed I am from the process by which my food is produced. I have friends with egg-laying chickens, and the more I read about the way eggs develop, the more I respect them as a vital food source. I gathered eggs from a friend’s farm last summer with the chickens wandering around alongside me, reminding me that our household staple is dependent on the unique capabilities of a domesticated animal. It’s a good excuse to stop and appreciate what we have.
The above video from The Incredible Egg, a division of the American Egg Board, shows how an egg is developed inside a chicken. The yolks start in a hen’s ovaries, then grow larger and travel down through a segment of the abdomen called the magnum. In this portion of the egg’s travels, the majority of the white is accumulated, before it enters the shell gland to develop a hard outer casing.
There are a lot of moving parts to this biological process, so of course, there’s plenty of room for variation—and error. You can get all sorts of weird, bulgy eggs, ones that look like geoducks, and whatever the hell happened here. If you have some time today and click through to the subreddit, I’m sure you’ll find yourself deep in a (eggs in the) hole like I sometimes am. And you’ll realize just how many strange, anomalous eggs you’re missing out on by buying your cartons at the grocery store.