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Food & Drink

How Much Should a Fuckin’ Hardboiled Egg Cost?

Racket finally surveys the local hardboiled egg market.

Eggland's Best

I’ve been mad for 569 days.

That’s when I first discovered the dizzying price tag of two hardboiled eggs at a local co-op. Weeks later, the truth-telling powers of journalism were set in motion.

Then, in mid-march, COVID-19 happened. On May 25, George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police. Finally, Star Tribune Media Co.—having exhausted every conceivable biz strategy to save it—shut down City Pages last October. In that dumb moment, it seemed the Twin Cities media market would never know how much a fuckin’ hardboiled egg should cost.

But then something beautiful happened. In a getting-the-band-back-together montage worthy of MacGruber, a ragtag crew of highly trained ex-CP operatives formed Racket, thus reigniting my obsession with exposing egg pricing.

First up: Another hacky email asking for the “eggspertise” of the American Egg Board, the checkoff marketing organization responsible for the iconic “Incredible, Edible Egg” slogan.

“Sounds like an eggcellent topic, and please never apologize for egg puns–they’re my life,” AEB spokesman Marc Dresner tells me. “There’s no way to really estimate how much a hardboiled egg should cost. Retail pricing is subject to a lot of factors.”

He supplied me with several charts and graphs reflecting recent demand for hardboiled eggs; sales peaked in 2019, cratered in 2020, and inched back by 15.5% this year.

Seeking a less institutional source, I texted my mom.

She supplied me with no charts or graphs.

Rather than navigate the Byzantine complexities of the retail supply chain, I decided to pound the damn pavement and see what local shops are charging for packaged, peeled hardboiled eggs. My egg-seeking journey took me all over the metro, though several destinations yielded no packaged hardboiled eggs: BP, CVS, ALDI, Seward Community Co-op, and the Wedge Community Co-op.

Currently, the average cost of one dozen, grade-A large eggs is about $1.30, according to the latest USDA market data. That’s obviously an imperfect baseline since it ignores the hard-boiling, packaging, and marketing, but it’s important to know you could hard-boil your own egg for about $.11 cents per egg, plus negligible fuel and water costs. And, of course, the increasingly fraught world of egg marketing is littered with dubious hen welfare claims like “cage free,” “pasture raised,” and “organic.” Take them the way I take my eggs: with a large, single grain of salt. Still, all eggs are not created equal and the following pricing reflects, at least to some degree, the conditions in which the egg was produced.

Alright, enough parameter-setting! Let’s crack this case.

Costco

Cost per egg: $.30 cents (32-pack, $9.89)

Brand: Kirkland Signature (house brand)

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Cage-free,” “organic”

Racket take: Man, Costco rocks so hard. The multinational warehouse club pays its workers fairly, its founder reportedly threatened to kill someone if the famously cheap hot dog got more expensive, and these hardboiled egg prices can’t be beat. Plus, I listen to a lot of NPR, so the organic boast makes me feel better about ’em.

Costco

Cost per egg: $.33 cents (24-pack, $7.99)

Brand: Wilcox Farms

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Cage-free”

Racket take: I’m won over by the Wilcox Farms website, which features reddish hens enjoying the rolling foothills of Mt. Rainier. The “Meet the Chickens” page doesn’t link to the U.S. Congress website (folks!), but rather this pastorally pleasing page that includes a farmer literally hugging a hen. For an additional $.3 cents per egg, these vague assurances are enough for me to opt Wilcox over Kirkland.

Kowalski’s 

Cost per egg: $.36 cents (6-pack, $2.15)

Brand: Bob Evans

Dubious hen welfare claims: N/A

Racket take: Interesting! Kowalski’s is certainly not known for value pricing, yet the local high-end grocery even managed to edge out a Costco product. That said, Bob Evans, the supermarket imprint of the 500-plus location restaurant chain, appears to be the slum egg brand. If you can’t even legally muster phony claims about your chickens enjoying moments of sunlight, pray for those chickens. Of note: Bob Evans considers the preparation of eggs, widely considered a brainless task, to be “intimidating.”

Costco

Cost per egg: $.37 cents (24-pack, $8.99)

Brand: Wilcox Farms

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Cage-free,” “organic”

Racket take: The organic version of the previous Wilcox Farms eggs. We’ve already stated our Wilcox Farms fandom and refuse to do so twice.

Target

Cost per egg: $.45 cents (6-pack, $2.69)

Brand: Good & Gather

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Cage-free,” “American Humane Certified

Racket take: Who gets paid to write this type of product description copy? I mean, you’re paying me to write this sentence, which seems like a pretty bad deal for you, but does the perfunctory blandness of “The next time your morning starts in a rush, look no further than this pack of Hard Cooked Eggs from Good & Gather™” really present a value-add? Anyway, Target made the curious decision to add a single parsley sprig garnish on the packaging. Weird.

Whole Foods

Cost per egg: $.50 cents (6-pack, $2.99)

Brand: 365 (house brand)

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Cage-free Plus”—meaning, per Whole Foods marketing, “birds live indoors with perches and shelters.” Huh… beats not having perches? Also: “Non-GMO Project Verified

Racket take: Some wiseguy with a real twisted sense of humor once dubbed this pricey grocer “Whole Paycheck.” While Racket can’t endorse jokes that subversive, we can state that Whole Foods was founded by a weirdo and is currently owned by one of the most evil men alive.

Hyvee

Cost per egg: $.50 cents (6-pack, $2.99)

Brand: Bob Evans

Dubious hen welfare claims: N/A

Racket take: As we’ve covered, you can get your low-rent Bob Evans eggs cheaper at Kowalski’s.

Hyvee

Cost per egg: $.58 cents (6-pack, $3.49)

Brand: Eggland’s Best

Dubious hen welfare claims: Eggland claims its “vegetarian-fed hens” produce proprietary eggs with 25% less saturated fat, 10 times more Vitamin E, double the Omega-3, and 38% more lutein. Gotta have my lutein!

Racket take: Where is Eggland? Is it a fanciful land, akin Homer’s interpretation of Germany? The company is headquartered in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, but maintains a large presence in Pennsylvania. Perhaps that’s the greater Egg Region. We’ll never know. We do know Racket readers keenly follow the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Nutrition Lab, so you already know Eggland’s Best won its coveted “Healthy Snack Award” earlier this year.

Lund’s

Cost per egg: $.63 cents (6-pack, $3.79)

Brand: Eggland’s Best

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Cage-free”

Racket take: For an additional nickel, you can score the Eggland product that at least suggests its birds don’t live in torturous, jam-packed industrial hen houses. Also, ooo baby, those lutein levels!

Bobby & Steve’s

Cost per egg: $.65 cents (2-pack, $1.29)

Brand: Sunny Fresh

Dubious hen welfare claims: Appealing directly to vendors, the Sunny Fresh corporation provides the following revealing language: “Appeal to the growing number of customers who buy based on their values. Sunny Fresh cage free egg products come from third-party certified cage free hens1, making it easy to claim your commitment on your menu.” I simply found that interesting; the eggs pictured below are not cage-free.

Racket take: I like my eggs as soon as possible, shouted loud and proud, so this branding works for me. Also, the product page touts that they’re “perfectly peeled,” an aspect of hardboiled eggs that’s often overlooked. I’ve struggled mightily in the past, slamming those suckers against the kitchen counter and scraping off the shell with frustrating effectiveness. Here’s a game-changing hint that improved my quality of life: Blow in the goddamn egg for better peeling; this drunk lady knows what’s up.

Cub

Cost per egg: $.65 cents (2-pack, $1.29)

Brand: Almark

Dubious hen welfare claims: N/A

Racket take: The CEO of Almark’s new parent company, Michael Foods, had high praise for the brand he acquired in 2020. “Almark Foods grew the retail hard-boiled egg business into a category leader and we are pleased that Michael Foods will be able to take this business to the next level,” CEO Rick Anderson said via a press release. Way to go, Almark! It’s quite possible we wouldn’t be writing about this category-leading business without your hard work.

Walgreens

Cost per egg: $.65 cents (2-pack, $1.29)

Brand: Eggland’s Best

Dubious hen welfare claims: All the previous stuff, ya know, increased lutein and stuff.

Racket take: We’ve written quite enough about Eggland’s Best. They seem like fine eggs; they have an fun/inky EB stamp on the shell, though these badboys don’t have shells. Walgreens charges too much for them.

Whole Foods

Cost per egg: $.67 cents (6-pack, $3.99)

Brand: Vital Farms

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Happy hens” (did you ask them?), “ethical eggs” (by whose standards?), “pasture raised on green grass” (think of the watering waste!), and “under open skies” (see, you’re not getting rain and overwatering!)

Racket take: But seriously, the “pasture raised” marker does carry some actual weight. Vital’s use of of “conscious capitalism,” however, makes us suspect they’re up to something…

Kwik Trip

Cost per egg: $.69 cents (2-pack, $1.39)

Brand: Kitchen Craving (house brand)

Dubious hen welfare claims: N/A

Racket take: Kwik Trip is the best gas station on planet earth, a true Midwestern legend whose spotless bathrooms, expertly carbonated fountain sodas, and sneaky-good fried chicken are all elite-tier in the sector. That said, they underthought and overcharged the egg.

Speedway

Cost per egg: $.85 cents (2-pack, $1.69)

Brand: Sauder’s Eggs

Dubious hen welfare claims:Our hens have sufficient space based on scientific recommendations.”

Racket take: My wife advised me to not state that these buffalo-style eggs “look like Ol’ Scratch’s nutsack.” Also: Fuck scab-loving Speedway. We miss Super America. We miss Super Mom, who we’d like to imagine was one monolithic mama who baked everything daily with a 30-foot rolling pin. We miss reminders that America, in spite of all evidence pointing the opposite direction, is “super.”

Holiday 

Cost per egg: $.90 cents (2-pack, $1.79)

Brand: Holiday Pantry (house brand)

Dubious hen welfare claims: N/A

Racket take: What can really be said of these eggs? They’re generic, they’re expensive, the packaging look especially wasteful. Holiday has great coffee, with special machines that grind beans fresh for each cup, but we can’t in good conscience endorse these eggs from an ethical or value standpoint.

Lakewinds Food Co-op

Cost per egg: $2 (2-pack, $3.99)

Brand: N/A.

Dubious hen welfare claims: “Local,” “organic,” “cage-free.”

Racket take: This cost per egg is double what mother considers reasonable. It prompted a cursed, 1,700-word article that you just read every word of. Embarrassing.