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Dear Mr Breakfast,

Why are some eggs white and others brown?

Colleen H.

ask mr breakfastHi Colleen H!

Good question. Now, let me ask you a question: If you had a baby, what color would it be?

I'm not a magician. I don't know your ethnicity. But I can safely assume that your kid is going to have a skin tone similar to your own (interracial unions aside for the moment).

White eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown chickens. The same is true in the chicken world. White eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown-ish chickens. Most of the eggs in your supermarket come from the following breeds of chickens: the White Leghorn, the Rhode Island Red, the New Hampshire, and the Plymouth Rock.

White Leghorn chickens are white and lay white eggs. Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire and Plymouth Rock chickens are all reddish brown and lay brown or brown-speckled eggs.

Let's get weird for a second and pretend you have a chicken sitting beside you. Imagine this crazy chicken is kind of an off-white brownish yellow. You're no chicken expert and you have no idea what breed you're looking at. Here's the secret to predicting the color of eggs a chicken will lay: look at their earlobes. This is true stuff. The pigments in the outer layer of the eggshell will always approximate the color of the earlobe of the chicken that laid the egg.

A natural follow-up question would be "Is one color of egg healthier than the other?" According to the Egg Nutrition Center in Washington, D.C., the answer is a pretty firm "no". The color of the shell has nothing to do with egg quality, nutritional value or flavor. They say the reason brown eggs cost more is because the brown-egg variety of chickens are bigger eaters and cost more to feed. The cost is then pushed forward to the consumer. I happen to believe the real reason is that the health food industry is perpetuating the myth that brown eggs are healthier. There, I said it.

Well Colleen, I hope I answered your question and that I didn't "lay an egg" with my response.

From The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy:

lay an egg - To fail, or to have one's efforts fall flat: "Jim tried to tell a few jokes, but each time he forgot the punch line and laid an egg."


Your pal,

Mr Breakfast


This article was written by Mr Breakfast (aka Eddy Chavey).


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