Buy Eggs From A Gas Station

Show plastic-wrapped, pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs some respect.

The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender as a cold and methodical assassin, strangely has a lot to say about food. Specifically, the film suggests that only a psychopath would consume their meals purely to "fuel up." The killer's mechanical, joyless approach to eating is first seen near the beginning of the film when a stone-faced Fassbender orders an Egg McMuffin and throws away the bread, stripping the sandwich down to its protein. Later he pairs a banana with a nutrition shake, robotically consuming both. Most unsettling, though, is the eerie moment when Fassbender swallows a serving of ready-to-eat hard-boiled eggs purchased from a gas station while driving his murder van.

Does David Fincher's film mean to say that fitness-obsessed, nutrition-focused people—that is, the folks who might place value on hard-boiled eggs as a protein source—lead the same compassionless existence as a cold-blooded killer? The connection sure seems intentional. In the New York Times, screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker describes the choice for Fassbender to swallow hard-boiled eggs like a snake:

His way of consuming food in an efficient way as part of the process was part of me envisioning him as kind of an alien amongst us. It's amazing to me that you can buy hard-boiled eggs wrapped in plastic and just cut out the middleman.

Prepackaged hard-boiled eggs, henceforth "gas station eggs," have a bit of a stink on them. Apparently, they're so suspicious as to be a device used by the screenwriter to convey Fassbender as an "alien." Walker isn't the only one who is amazed by gas station eggs; in general, the public just can't seem to wrap their heads around the whole concept of ready-to-eat eggs. But is it any more unusual than, say, a prepackaged Uncrustable, or a cup of pre-pitted, on-the-go olives?

Gas station eggs, explained

Eggs that have been hard-boiled, peeled, and sealed up in plastic aren't all that different from a stick of beef jerky—quick protein, minimal fuss—but at the gas station they stick out like a sore thumb. That's because gas stations are more associated with trail mix, chips, jerky, sandwiches, and slushies. Eggs are almost a little too... natural to exist there. In comparison to the neon hues of the snack aisle, the clear cartons of bald little eggs look preposterous, even untrustworthy.

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But why? Eggs are a hearty and nutritious road trip food. I have long opted for the package of hard-boiled eggs when in need of quick nourishment at a convenience store, and I have just as long heard comments that I'm absolutely insane for making the purchase. Compared to the long, complex ingredient labels you encounter on many other on-the-go foods, aren't eggs a rather forthright snack? Can't we normalize this behavior?

The mistrust is understandable. Admittedly, the eggs are always a little wet with condensation when you open the package. And while the FDA says hard-boiled eggs should really only be good for seven days, gas station eggs have a longer shelf life than that. The reason is that all prepackaged hard-boiled eggs are preserved through the addition of citric acid and sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate by itself is generally fine; it's only potentially harmful when it gets mixed with ascorbic acid. (Those two substances are prevalent in a lot of soft drinks, by the way.) So there are some preservatives helping these eggs along, but they're still pretty straightforward, as snacks go.

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Let’s change our tune on gas station eggs

I do think the smear campaign against the pre-peeled eggs is drawing to a close, though, and that's partially because hard-boiled eggs are becoming a lot more common in general. Kroger, Good & Gather, Vital Farms, Ralphs, and O Organics all sell hard-boiled eggs now, bagged up and ready to chow down on. This wasn't always the case, and the public's more recent focus on snacks that are both filling and convenient means that sales of this product have been rising since at least 2018.

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The expediency of these pre-peeled eggs is too great to ignore. Egg shells, after all, can be a huge pain in the ass. Even with J. Kenji López-Alt's authoritative peeling method—adding fresh eggs to cold water and slowly bringing it to a boil—it's not always easy to coax the shell from the white. Egg shells are finicky. Why mess with them if we don't have to?

America seemingly always flip-flops on whether eggs are actually healthy, but as a protein source eggs have been on the upswing for quite some time now. There's really not that much to be suspicious of, and yet the stink surrounding them is perpetuated in the media with movies like The Killer, and shows like Arrested Development, and maybe even by Frank Reynolds of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Eggs are the opposite of cigarettes. Cool people don't eat eggs; serial killers and insane old men do. Eggs are a punchline, and a good one—but they're so much more than that.

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Enjoying the convenience of hard-boiled eggs you purchased at a gas station doesn't make you a psychopath. You're not soulless weirdo for popping an egg here and there. I enjoy a wide variety of exciting foods, and also the occasional prepackaged, pre-peeled egg. Make room for both. And if you already enjoy gas station eggs, good on you. People will catch up.

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