I can’t I’d ever given much thought to the question of why eggs sold by the dozen. Just something we take for granted. Apparently it’s been this way for a while. The NY Times runs a series where readers can write in with questions for the reporters to unearth the answers to. Apparently, someone wondered why are eggs sold by the dozen, rather than in 8s or 10s?
You can read the article here, but to summarize the NY Times’ findings, eggs used to sell for a penny. There were 12 pennies to a schilling, so it became natural for folks to drop a schilling and get 12 at a time.
The price has gone up a bit, although the price varies radically. As I’ve mentioned previously, we have a small flock of Jersey Giant hens, an heirloom breed our of New Jersey. Most of the hens lay roughly an egg every other day. As you can imagine, we eat a lot of eggs, but we can’t eat them all. We sell our excess eggs to friends for $4/dozen. My sister sells hers for $5. The small farm in the town next door asks for $7. On the other hand, the Market Basket down the streets sometimes puts eggs on sale for $1/dozen. Not easy to compete with.
But really, it’s not a competition. Eggs are not income to a small homestead like ours. At $4/dozen, all they can do is offset the cost of feed a little. There will never be profit. This is just an efficient way of cleaning out excess inventory before it spoils.
Still, if we’re taking a loss on the eggs at $4, makes you question how Market Basket can sell them for $1. Sure, there are economies of scale, but there is a cost we pay for cheap produce.