Why This Tiny Egg Cup Is Creating a Big Stir

July 11, 2017

This past Sunday, video game designer Innes McKendrick, a Scotsman living in Guildford, Surrey and tweeting under the handle @innesmck, took to Twitter to go on an expletive-laden, mildly furious rant. The reason? He’d just been alerted to the fact that a good number of Americans don’t use egg cups, those concave tchotchkes that keep soft-boiled eggs upright as you eat them.

Well, let’s set aside the fact that it’s silly to impose a one-size-fits-all, sweeping characterization of a country and its cooking habits. There are a number of people on our team over at Food52, based in the States, who use egg cups with regularity and leisure.

McKendrick, when confronting the apparent truth that these trinkets aren't commonly found in American kitchens, began to wonder: How do the unruly yolks of soft-boiled eggs stay stabilized? Why allow eggs to roam around with reckless abandon atop flat plates? The solution, to McKendrick's mind, is clear. Use an egg cup. His instructions for their best use:

  • Boil the egg.
  • Stop before the yolk gets hard.
  • Put it in an egg cup.
  • Cut the top off.
  • Dip bread in it.

Wonderful. I’m convinced. You heard the man: If you haven’t yet succumbed to the egg cup, perhaps it’s time to give it a try. I’ve got some ideas for where to start.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I grew up watching my Italian grandmother eat a soft boiled egg every morning for breakfast in and egg cup. I love egg cups and do have a couple that are in display but like D L Shaw, I love to peel them, cut them in half and after admiring how beautiful they are, eat them on top of toast as I would a poached egg. :)”
— dmass

Use an egg cup? You know the drill: Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Amy Dimond
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    Sharifa Abdul-Wahid
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Amy D. July 18, 2017
I own over a dozen egg cups. But I don't judge those who don't use them ;)
susan July 18, 2017
Hahaha, I love that he's angry, he's writing in all caps, he didn't use exclamation marks to further enhance his anger, and it's all over an egg cup. It's called passion people.
cat July 18, 2017
I use a shot glass. I'm not spending $55 for an egg cup. I'm not pretentious
djgibboni July 16, 2017
The issue isn't egg cups, per se, but rather the prevalence of soft-boiled eggs in the US, versus other ways to eat eggs.
I imagine we eat a lot more scrambled, fried, hard-boiled and even poached eggs a lot more often than soft-boiled. No soft-boiled eggs, no need for egg cups.
tamater S. July 17, 2017
My gramma used to break the soft boiled eggs, and scoop them out over diced, well buttered, salt & peppered toast. She did it when I came alone to visit. For families with several kids, it was too time consuming for moms to prepare, compared to flopping fried or scrambled eggs on the plate, so that might be the reason.
Peg July 21, 2017
I love your screen name!
tamater S. July 21, 2017
Aw, thanks. I sort of semi-stole it, as there was a co-member of a group I once belonged to, called "Avocado Sammich" and I always loved that it.
Mayukh S. July 21, 2017
I echo Peg's sentiments, tamater sammich. (I hope this isn't news to you!)
tamater S. July 21, 2017
Thanks! As I wrote to Peg, above, I sorta stole it ;-)
Sharifa A. July 16, 2017
My husband eats his soft boiled eggs in an egg cup after he uses his egg scissors to clip the top off with his buttered toast soldiers on the side! I think we have close to a dozen different cups now.
manykittiesmama July 16, 2017
I do the same! I have my rooster egg scissors to nip the top off. I eat 2 soft boiled eggs every day...
Sarah July 16, 2017
In our house, the soldiers had to be stacked to make "bridges." When the soldiers were consumed, we ate the rest of the egg with tiny skinny silver spoons that fit perfectly through the hole in the top of the shell.
Anke T. July 16, 2017
Are you guys serious? No egg cups? But you do eat soft-boiled eggs? These were around in plastic, glass, ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel and who knows what other varieties even in Communist East Germany (which was definitely not a consumerist society prone to unnecessary luxuries) 40 years ago...:-)
Christina @. July 15, 2017
You don't just need egg cups, you need soldiers, too!!
mrslarkin July 12, 2017
I use shot glasses. Works perfectly.
Lindsay-Jean H. July 12, 2017
Well played.
dmass July 12, 2017
I grew up watching my Italian grandmother eat a soft boiled egg every morning for breakfast in and egg cup. I love egg cups and do have a couple that are in display but like D L Shaw, I love to peel them, cut them in half and after admiring how beautiful they are, eat them on top of toast as I would a poached egg. :)
dmass July 12, 2017
Meant ... I have a couple on display.
Tryumph July 12, 2017
I grew up only eating eggs in an egg cup, as prepared by my British Grandmother. Somewhere along the line I lost my way. I think I will be finding my way back.
Christina @. July 15, 2017
Yay! Did she make your soldiers, too? I would bet she did.
Margaret L. July 12, 2017
I suspect the reason that many Americans don't have egg cups is that many Americans never eat an egg soft-boiled. Egg cups aren't needed for scrambled, sunny-side-up, or over-easy, which is how most people here eat their eggs. Soft-boiled isn't even an option at many cafes, diners, and restaurants.
djgibboni July 16, 2017
Leonie July 16, 2017
Boiled egg and soldiers (with egg cup) is only a home cooking thing in the UK. I've never seen it on a restaurant/cafe menu. :)
Margaret L. July 18, 2017
@Leonie, I love to order them when I'm in New York City at Le Pain Quotidien. They make the soldiers nicely! Otherwise, I only eat them at home, too -- in my egg cups.
Michael O. July 11, 2017
My wife and I collect egg cups. Currently we own somewhere in the vicinity of 400. There is nothing better for soft boiled egg eating
tamater S. July 21, 2017
It's been a long time since I've seen an egg cup collection. It was always friends' moms who had those collections, and salt & peppers, too. I just loved perusing those collections, and although tempted to start my own, I held off for lack of space for a dedicated hutch, or the likes of, and now I've downsized. But I still remember some of those lovely pieces, mostly from the 1920s to 60s..... I should do a Google, to see if I can see some of those pieces again! I bet I've seen some of your pieces!
garlic&lemon July 11, 2017
Like DL Shaw, I love poached eggs on top of other things. If I'm eating straight up egg, then coddled is the best. Aren't coddlers English?
luvcookbooks July 11, 2017
I want moth dad to know that I own dozens of egg cups and would not eat a soft boiled egg out of anything else! Born in USA.
D L. July 11, 2017
While I've done this and enjoyed this, I prefer to treat soft boiled eggs like they're poached and them. Often on top of toast or salads or grains.
Cookie July 16, 2017
Ditto, I much prefer my egg on toast than in an egg cup, though I use one very occasionally. And most American restaurants serve soft boiled eggs on toast or as a side with toast, not in a cup. Here on California's central coast, toast spread with black olive tapenade and topped with a soft boiled egg is quite popular.