WASHINGTON – Hyattsville mom Rosanna Weaver took a pass on a package of pre-dyed Easter eggs at the grocery store this week, saying she would rather do it the old fashioned way, vinegar and all, with her children.
“It’s not that much work,” said Weaver, who was shopping Wednesday for Easter candy with her kids, Eric, 4, and Sharada, 6, at the Giant in Hyattsville. Weaver said she prefers to color eggs at home with her children — and usually invites friends and neighbors.
“It’s a social thing,” she said.
But others — including the White House — apparently consider colorfully shellacked, pre-cooked and pre-dyed eggs a convenient answer to a holiday tradition that many do not have time for.
Sauder Eggs in Lititz, Pa., which produced the eggs that Weaver saw Wednesday, said it will provide the White House with more than 15,000 hard-cooked, pre-dyed eggs for its annual Easter egg roll. The company produces around a half-million dyed eggs each year which it starts to ship out about three weeks before Easter.
Paul Sauder, company president, said he has letters from grateful customers about the prefab eggs. He said grandmothers, his mother included, are delighted to buy the pre-dyed eggs for when their families come to dinner.
He said the market has grown since his company started making the colorful product in the early 1990s, particularly among people who put on egg hunts.
“What really is unique about the dye that we use is that it actually seals the pores of the egg so you can . . . leave them out for longer than the two-hour period of time that they (the Federal Drug Administration) recommend,” Sauder said. “There is a food safety factor attached to our eggs.”
That has not convinced people like Geri Reynolds, special events coordinator for the city of Brunswick. She has been putting an Easter egg hunt for 20 years, and said she has always used plastic eggs.
“A hard-boiled egg isn’t really attractive to the children,” said Reynolds, who worried about health risks of using real, hard-boiled eggs — not to mention the rank consequence of those eggs not found.
That position was reinforced Wednesday by Eric Weaver at the Giant on Wednesday. When his mom told him the brightly colored eggs actually contained egg, not candy, the 4-year-old said, “Ewwww.”
But food industry officials said that as life grows more hectic, American consumers welcome prepared foods — including pre-dyed Easter eggs.
“It’s a convenience factor; more people today are constrained by time,” said Barry Scher, vice president for public affairs for Giant Food Corp. “More people are buying more prepared foods than ever before in our stores.”
The pre-dyed Easter eggs, displayed in both the dairy aisles and holiday feature aisles of area groceries, are vibrantly colored red, yellow, orange, green, blue or purple, and are more glazed and mottled than traditionally dyed eggs.
A rainbow six-pack of Sauder’s hard-cooked eggs cost $1.79 at Giant. They can last up to six weeks if refrigerated, Sauder said.
Nearby, the store sold an egg-dying kit for $1.99. The kits, which can dye dozens of eggs, include dye tablets, Easter stickers, egg wrappers, an egg dipper, egg holders, and other decorations.
But Scher said that dyeing is not for everyone. People want to “get out of the kitchen” and “spend more time with their children.”
Still, Weaver, a busy mother herself, said she would rather spend the time with her kids in the kitchen by spreading out the newspaper, boiling the water and dealing with the odors.
“I’m all about convenience everything, but there’s a line somewhere,” she said.
-30- CNS 03-25-05