This Cracker Barrel Theory Explains Why You Like Your Eggs A Certain Way

We all have our own unique personalities, likes, dislikes, and preferred egg preparations. From scrambled eggs made fluffy to fried eggs made crispy or over-easy eggs made runny, your favorite way to eat eggs is like your fingerprint—well, almost. So, does one way to cook eggs reign supreme? According to a Cracker Barrel theory, the way you grew up eating eggs is the best way.

Known for its more than 600 road trip-friendly locations dotting the country and its family-friendly vibe, Cracker Barrel is also an authority on egg dishes: the chain serves 160 million eggs annually, according to TODAY. With all of that egg-cracking, Cracker Barrel's Vice President of Culinary and Menu Strategy Camille Spillyards-Schaefer has developed a theory on whether scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, sunny-side-up, or over-medium is best-loved. 

"What we've always found, and I find so interesting as a chef, is however your mom cooked your eggs when you were growing up is typically how you like to eat them for the rest of your life," Spillyards-Schaefer told TODAY. This eggs-pert (sorry) opinion makes sense: scientists have found and studied a link between taste and memory (via PopSugar). 

Some scientists think this connection stems from earlier humans' survival tactics, reports Southern Living. If they ate a plant, for example, that made them sick, they'd remember the taste and avoid it going forward. This works with positive associations, too. You may hold a special place in your heart for foods you ate on memorably great days and treasure dishes prepared for you by people you love.

The most popular ways to eat eggs

Now that we might know the why and how behind the way we like our eggs—nostalgia, comfort, and familiarity—what egg dishes seem like they've been most popular in family kitchens across the United States, creating preferences that may get passed down through generations? 

In 2019, market research firm YouGov surveyed Americans and declared scrambled victorious with 36 percent of the vote. Over-easy came next with 18 percent, followed by sunny-side-up (12 percent), over-medium (11 percent), and hard-boiled (6 percent). Two years prior, Eat This, Not That! partnered with Yelp to find the most popular egg dish in each state. Omelets ranked highest, winning 27 states. Fried eggs took eight states, and seemingly crowd-pleasing scrambled eggs only wore the crown in West Virginia and North Carolina. 

More interesting egg stats came from a GrubHub survey in 2019, Food & Wine writes. A bacon, egg, and cheese croissant took the top spot for favorite egg-based order, with any style of eggs with potatoes right behind. The data also showed what states order the most egg items: New Hampshire, Maryland, Alabama, and Connecticut. 

It seems that Americans prefer scrambled when it comes to eggs on their own, but would take an omelet or sandwich if they had their pick of a full-on dish. Based on the Cracker Barrel theory, we can guess many of us grew up eating scrambled eggs and forming happy memories with all that fluffy or cheesy or soft or creamy goodness.