Why Do Bars Sell Pickled Eggs?

iStock.com/EzumeImages
iStock.com/EzumeImages

Pickled eggs are something of an acquired taste. Most recipes will instruct you to soak hard-boiled eggs in a jar of vinegar, herbs, spices, and sometimes beets, and voila—you have a tasty, tangy snack.

Let's say you just want one pickled egg, though, instead of a whole batch. The place you're most likely to find one is at your local dive bar. As The Farmers Market Cookbook from 1982 stresses, "No self-respecting barroom would be caught without a jar of pickled eggs on the bar."

Although they're a rarer sight these days, you can still find purple pickled eggs bobbing in a vat of mysterious fluid at many watering holes across the country. But how did such a strange snack become a bar staple? According to Tales of the Cocktail, it all started with a clever marketing ploy.

Back in the 1860s, bars in New Orleans started advertising free lunches to lure patrons into the bar, and those meals typically came with a hard-boiled egg. This habit may have been copied from the French, but there are a few reasons why American bartenders started implementing it. For one, hard-boiled eggs can keep for several hours without being refrigerated, and bars typically had eggs on hand anyway since they're used in some punches and cocktails. There was also a third reason: "To make customers thirstier—and also to keep them from getting sloppily drunk," Everett De Morier writes in The Invention of Everything.

According to De Morier, bars eventually switched to pickled eggs due to health concerns. Pickled eggs can keep even longer than their hard-boiled counterparts, and it also eliminated the hassle of having to clean up the eggshells after the lunch hour rush. Although pickled eggs are popular across the pond in the UK, where a World Pickled Egg Championship has been held, the Germans are the ones who get the credit for introducing the snack to Americans.

"The eggs were popular with Hessian mercenaries and then migrated over to the Pennsylvania Dutch, who used a very simple practice to make them: The egg—or the cucumber or the beet, whatever they were pickling—was placed in a jar of spiced vinegar and left there," De Morier writes.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Around the same time that bars in NOLA started offering free lunches, pickled eggs also started appearing in German saloons in the U.S. before spreading to other, non-German establishments. Culinary historian Richard Foss believes their popularity was also a matter of taste: Pickled foods and some lagers simply work well together. "The influx of Germans changed America's taste about beer drinking," Foss tells Tales of the Cocktail. "I would very much suspect that they might have brought in a taste for these pickled things that go very well with lager as well."

It's still a popular bar snack in some parts of Germany, he says. Once Americans acquired a taste for pickled treats, the tradition endured for decades. Before Prohibition was enacted, it wasn't uncommon to see a jar of pickled eggs sitting next to a jar of pickled pigs' feet on the bar.

At some point in the hard-boiled egg's evolution, deviled eggs and Scotch eggs also became a popular bar treat, according to Punch. Nowadays, many pubs offer more enticing snacks like soft pretzels with cheese or fried jalapeño poppers, but if you're lucky, you just might encounter the humble pickled egg on your next night out.

"Never been to a bar with a jar of pickled eggs? Then you've never walked on the wild side," Duane Swierczynski writes in The Big Book O' Beer. "There's something special about people who have eaten a pickled egg from a jar with a layer of dust that would rival the Tomb of Tutankhamun."

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Why Does the Supreme Court Have Nine Justices?

Front row, left to right: Stephen G. Breyer, Clarence Thomas, (Chief Justice) John G. Roberts, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel A. Alito. Back row: Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Front row, left to right: Stephen G. Breyer, Clarence Thomas, (Chief Justice) John G. Roberts, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel A. Alito. Back row: Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States // Public Domain

Some facets of the U.S. government—like presidential terms and post offices—were written into the original Constitution after (often lengthy) deliberations by the Founding Fathers. The number of Supreme Court justices was not one of those things.

The document did establish a Supreme Court, and it stated that the president should appoint its judges; it also mentioned that a “Chief Justice shall preside” if the president gets impeached. Since it was left up to Congress to work out the rest of the details, they passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which outlined an entire court system and declared that the Supreme Court should comprise one chief justice and five associate justices. As History.com explains, they landed on six because the justices would have to preside over federal circuit courts, one of which was located in each state. Traveling wasn’t quick or easy in the horse-and-carriage days, so Congress wanted to minimize each justice’s jurisdiction. They split the courts into three regions, and assigned two justices to each region.

According to Maeva Marcus, director of the Institute for Constitutional History at George Washington University Law School, the even number of justices was a non-issue. “They never even thought about it, because all the judges were Federalists and they didn’t foresee great disagreement,” she told History.com. “Plus, you didn’t always have all six justices appearing at the Supreme Court for health and travel reasons.”

Over the next 80 years, the number of Supreme Court justices would fluctuate for two reasons: the addition of federal circuit courts, and presidents’ partisan motives. John Adams and his Federalist Congress reduced the number to five with the Judiciary Act of 1801, which they hoped would prevent Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson from getting to fill a seat after he took office that year. By the following year, Jefferson’s Congress had passed another judicial act that returned the number of justices to six, and they upped it to seven after forming another circuit court in 1807.

The nation grew significantly during the early 19th century, and Congress finally added two new circuit courts—and with them, two new Supreme Court seats—during Andrew Jackson’s presidential tenure in 1837. Republican Abraham Lincoln then briefly increased the number of justices to 10 in order to add another abolitionist vote, but Congress shrunk it to seven in 1866 to keep Andrew Johnson from filling seats with Democrats. As soon as Republican Ulysses S. Grant succeeded Johnson, Congress set the number back to nine, where it’s remained ever since.

Sketched portraits of the U.S. Supreme Court justices through 1897.Popular and Applied Graphic Art Print Filing Series, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division // No Known Restrictions on Publication

In 1911, Congress did away with circuit courts altogether, so the number of Supreme Court justices stopped being contingent upon their expansion (though each justice does still oversee a region to help with occasional tasks). As for presidents shifting the number to serve their own goals, it’s now looked down upon as “packing the court.” When Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to increase it to 15 in the 1930s to push his New Deal through the Supreme Court, the Senate opposed the bill by a whopping 70 to 20 votes.

In short, the depth of the Supreme Court’s bench changed a lot in America’s early years not only because the country was expanding, but also because the federal government was still testing out its system of checks and balances. And though presidents do still appoint justices based on their own political party, we’ve gotten used to the idea that the Supreme Court is, at least ideologically, supposed to be unbiased. If Congress and the president kept up the habit of adding and subtracting justices at will, it would tarnish this ideal.

“If Congress increases the size of the Supreme Court for transparently partisan political reasons, it would cement the idea the justices are little more than politicians in robes, and that the court is little more than an additional—and very powerful—arm through which partisan political power can be exercised,” Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, wrote for NBC News. “Indeed, that Congress has not revisited the size of the court in 150 years is a powerful testament to just how ingrained the norm of nine has become—and how concerned different political constituencies have been at different times about preserving the court’s power.”

[h/t History.com]