The Palatability of Eggs

Dr. Hugh Cott

After World War II, Dr. Hugh Cott of Cambridge University conducted a series of egg-tasting experiments in order to determine the palatability of eggs from various species of birds. I think part of the idea was to determine which eggs might possibly be used as a food source by Englanders, in case of another war. But part of the idea was also just scientific curiosity.

He assembled a panel of three egg tasters, who were served the eggs scrambled. They then rated them on a 10-point scale. Over a six-year period (1946-1951) they tasted eggs from 212 bird species.

Some of their results: The domestic hen was rated tastiest (8.8 out of 10). The coot, moorhen, and lesser black-backed gull came in second place (8.3 out of 10).

Penguin eggs were "particularly fine and delicate in flavor." Domestic duck eggs were of only "intermediate palatability."

Coming in at the bottom were the eggs of the great tit ("salty, fishy, and bitter"), wren ("sour, oily"), and the oyster-catcher ("strong onion-like flavor"). The eggs of the bar-headed goose made the tasters gag. However, "The freshness of the material available may have been in question."

Cott concluded that brightly colored eggs were, overall, less palatable than camouflaged eggs, but this result has subsequently been challenged. Zoologist Tim Birkhead has also suggested that Cott's experiment would have been more scientifically valuable if the tasters had eaten the eggs raw, because "What predators ever experienced cooked eggs?"

Cott published the full results of his experiment in 1954, in the Journal of Zoology.

The Bend Bulletin - Feb 2, 1948

     Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 02, 2016
     Category: Food | Experiments | 1940s





Comments
Is 3 an adequate number of eggheads on a panel for accuracy?
Posted by Virtual on 11/02/16 at 11:23 AM
Reminds me of a Star Trek TNG scene where LaForge fixed up some scrambled eggs for his friends. All were excited that they would get some fresh eggs for a treat. Riker takes one bite and spits them out in disgust, followed by everyone else around the table. Except for Worf, who declares them delicious.
Posted by KDP on 11/02/16 at 03:22 PM
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