The Real Reason Bars Sell Pickled Eggs

Bar snacks have come a long way from their humble beginnings of bowls of pretzels that have been sitting out for who knows how long and pickled eggs with a nice layer of dust on the lid of the jar. Nowadays, bars are going out of their way to present food that is a bit more elevated than typical pub fare.

According to Thrillist's list profiling the Unofficial Bar Snack of Every State, the most popular items at bars include fried crab claws, chargrilled oysters, tamales, toasted ravioli, and several other complex dishes. Over time, as bars have continued to elevate their food, the once beloved bar snack of pickled eggs were left on a shelf and forgotten about. Maybe it's their appearance, or the concept of them in general, but nonetheless their popularity has been on a downward trend for a while. In the present day, they only exist in dive bars that either appreciate the history of them or just don't feel like throwing them away.

Pickled eggs in bars all started with a marketing ploy in the 1860s

Pickled eggs may be hard to find in bars now, but back in the 1860s, they were used to attract patrons. According to Tales of the Cocktail, bars in New Orleans at the time advertised that they served free lunch in order to entice customers. These meals were typically served with a hard-boiled egg because the bars already had eggs on hand for select punches and cocktails. Not only were they practical from an inventory standpoint, they wouldn't spoil when they're left out of the refrigerator for a few hours, which is ideal for a busy bar.

According to the book, "The Invention of Everything" (per Google Books), bars eventually switched to pickled hard-boiled eggs because they could last even longer and made customers thirsty, so they would buy more drinks. On the flipside, the eggs provided a satisfying snack that would prevent patrons from getting too drunk and help with their future hangover. According to Punch, eggs contain cysteine, a key amino acid in helping liver function, so eggs and booze are a perfect match, even though it sounds kind of gross. So, the next time you're at a dive bar, see if you can spot the pickled eggs so you can appreciate how far bar food has come.