I am the person who eats gas station eggs. You know those see-through packages of eggs you see hanging out in the open air fridge at a food mart?
They usually come in pairs, and they’ve always got some suspiciously generic brand name like “TrustUs Farms” or “Eggland Foodz.” They hang out near the “healthy” section of the gas station with the yogurts, salads, pre-made sandwiches, and string cheese. You know how you walk by those eggs and say, “Who in the absolute hell eats those?” Hello, hi, what’s up, etc., etc. It’s me. I eat them. I’ve always eaten them. I like to peel off the plastic corner of the package, pick up a smooth, damp, hard boiled egg with my finger tips, shake off the excess liquid, and plop that omega-3-rich sucker in my mouth. And if you think that’s strange, well, I will happily explain to you why you’re wrong.
For starters, eggs are the perfect road trip food. They’re a quick, nutritious snack and a relatively good source of lean protein. Hard boiled eggs fill you up without packing in too many calories. That’s important while driving because you aren’t moving. There’s no way to burn off the calories. Eat too much bread, and you’ll get sluggish. You become too sleepy to be behind the wheel of a car. And although I love to eat my favorite sandwich on the drive home from a hike, I’m not looking to inhale a gigantic hoagie while driving long distances. Those 10 or even 15-hour drives when you’re moving across the country or trying to get home with a big dog (I have a 55-pound cattle dog). Drives during which you drink so much caffeine that it’s now a part of your bloodstream. On those drives? I try to avoid a big meal until later in the day. I want clean sustenance to keep me focused. Enter gas station eggs.
You have to be choosy about what you eat on a road trip. Eat too many chips and drink too much diet soda, and you’ll end up with a headache. Driving and eating is about balance, and a couple of gas station hard boiled eggs do well to maintain that balance. They satiate your hunger. They keep you healthy and alert. Hard boiled eggs provide some semblance of a healthy meal, and they allow you to spend your snack coins on something more flavorful and gluttonous once you reach your destination.
Moreover, an egg is one of the only things that I actually trust at a gas station. A hard boiled egg is almost impossible to screw up. It’s one of the few foods that you can overcook by a few minutes and it’s perfectly fine. But, maybe that’s not your issue. Maybe you don’t trust the eggs chemically. I mean, how do they keep them like that? All packaged hard boiled eggs are preserved through the addition of citric acid and sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate by itself is generally fine as long as it’s not mixed with ascorbic acid, in which case it can be harmful and potentially cancer-causing. So, if you’re walking past gas station eggs and saying to yourself, “There’s no way that’s safe,” you might also direct that statement towards the soda fridge (yes, some of your favorite fizzy drinks put sodium benzoate to use).
And I don’t eat only hard boiled eggs. If I’m on a road trip, I go for convenience store eggs of all kinds. The pre-packaged egg salad sandwiches have a soft, creamy, singular texture that is comforting and nostalgic. And if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you might be lucky enough to stumble across some homemade pickled eggs, and those are a delight. They are often farm fresh eggs. They come sweet and tangy, sometimes they’re spicy and pickled with jalapeños. Stop at some mom-and-pop fuel pumps in Southern Ohio, Alabama, Louisiana, or West Texas, and you’ll probably find a jar of pickled eggs on the counter. And you should be trying the tasty and unusual local provisions provided by a local gas station. It would be rude not to.
I’ve driven across the country numerous times. I’ve trekked from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles twice now. I’ve gone back and forth from Pittsburgh to Austin, a 22-hour drive, about a half dozen times. I’ve driven to South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Orleans, and Alabama. And each time I was fueled by the kindness of gas station eggs. They are a benevolent, thoughtful snack that only has your best interest at heart. Put your trust in gas station eggs, and they’ll reward you with healthy, nutritious sustenance.
I can’t be the only one eating pre-packaged hard boiled eggs. Actually, I know I’m not. Plenty of brands are getting into the boiled egg game: Kroger, Good & Gather, Vital Farms, Lucerne, and O Organics all sell hard boiled eggs now. That wasn’t the case five years ago. I think that signals a change in culture. If brands are jumping into the fray, that means they’ve got some information out there showing that people want pre-packaged, hard boiled eggs. And if you remain skeptical, that’s fine with me. To each egg their own. But, the data suggests you’ll crack eventually.