The egg patrol: plastic to porcelain

It started on cable tv (in a commercial) and ended in England’s industrial Midlands (with birds — wrens and a finch — and a museum). All to cook eggs.

Plastic cookers. The image:

(#1) You can watch the Egglettes commercial here

On the name, which has a variant of the suffix –ette. From Michael Quinion’s Affixes site:

ette forming nouns [Old French –ette, feminine of –et.]

A common use is to suggest a diminutive: kitchenette, a small kitchen or part of a room equipped as a kitchen; statuette, a small statue or figurine; diskette, a small removable computer data storage disk; novelette, a frequently derogatory term for a short novel; courgette (French courge, gourd), in British English the immature fruit of a vegetable marrow, a zucchini. However, many words that once had this sense have lost it: cigaretteomelette (literally, a little knife blade, from its flatness; French amelette, from lemele, knife blade). Others never had it: launderetteetiquette (French étiquette, a list of ceremonial observances of a court).

Egglettes has the variant –lette, with the L from omelette ‘a dish of beaten eggs cooked in a frying pan until firm, often with a filling added while cooking, and usually served folded over’ (NOAD).

There are other brands of plastic egg cookers, for example Eggies. On the Egg Lover site


Another derivational suffix. From the Quinion site:

(also -ieand –ee): forming affectionate or pet names, or nouns that imply smallness [Scots -ie, used in names but of uncertain origin, taken over in Middle English.]

Porcelain coddlers. From the Chairish site:

(#2) I have four of these; Ann Daingerfield Zwicky and I bought them about 50 years ago

Vintage Royal Worcester Egg Coddlers – A Pair

This darling matched pair of Royal Worcester fine porcelain egg coddlers in the Wrens & Finch pattern are the perfect addition to your breakfast table! They are circa 1970 from England. The base is a lovely white porcelain and the wren is on one side, and the finch on the other. The lids have rings to remove them from the water! A nice find for the naturalist bird lover with these ‘Audubon type’ images on porcelain.

With the tops off, and showing both wrens and finch:

(#3) Not being a bird person, I can’t identity the species of wren and finch depicted here

On the verb coddle, from NOAD:

[with object] 1 treat in an indulgent or overprotective way: I was coddled and cosseted. 2 cook (an egg) in water below boiling point. ORIGIN late 16th century (in the sense ‘boil (fruit) gently’): origin uncertain; coddle (sense 1) is probably a dialect variant of obsolete caudle ‘administer invalids’ gruel’, based on Latin caldum ‘hot drink’, from calidus ‘warm’.

More on coddling eggs, from Wikipedia, with the connection to Royal Worcester:

In cooking, coddled eggs are gently or lightly cooked eggs. They can be partially cooked, mostly cooked, or hardly cooked at all (as in the eggs used to make Caesar salad dressing, which are only slightly poached for a thicker end-product). Poached eggs are eggs that, arguably, are coddled in a very specific way: they are poached in water.

There are two methods of coddling eggs. The first is to cook the egg in its shell, by immersing it in near-boiling water. This can be done either in a pan where the water is kept below boiling point, or by pouring boiling water over the egg and letting it stand for 2 to 5 minutes, based on starting temperature of the eggs, number of eggs cooked at once and amount of boiling water used.

The second method is to break the egg in an egg coddler, porcelain cup or ramekin with a lid, and cook using a bain-marie. The inside of the egg coddler is first buttered in order to flavor the egg and allow it to be removed more easily. A raw egg (sometimes with additional flavorings) is broken into the coddler, which is then placed in a pan of near-boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes to achieve a solid white and yolk.

Coddlers … have been manufactured by Royal Worcester … since at least the 1890s, and may have been invented there. Many companies now make egg coddlers, some of which are collectors’ items.

On the company, from Wikipedia:

Royal Worcester is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today, established in 1751 (this is disputed by Royal Crown Derby, which claims 1750 as its year of establishment). Since 2009 part of the Portmeirion Group, Royal Worcester remains in the luxury tableware and giftware market, although production in Worcester itself has ended.

Technically, the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd. known as Royal Worcester was formed in 1862, and wares produced before this are known as Worcester porcelain, although the company had a royal warrant from 1788. The enterprise has followed the pattern of other leading English porcelain brands, with increasing success during the 18th and 19th centuries, and a gradual decline during the 20th century, especially the latter half.

… The factory’s former site includes the independent Museum of Royal Worcester (formerly known as the ‘Dyson Perrins Museum’ and ‘Worcester Porcelain Museum’) owned by the Dyson Perrins Museum Trust. The Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Worcester porcelain. The collections date back to 1751 and the Victorian gallery, the ceramic collections, archives and records of factory production, form the primary resource for the study of Worcester porcelain and its history.

(#4) The severely Victorian museum building in Severn Street, Worcester, Worcestershire

Worcester, England, source of Worcester MA and Worcestershire sauce. Not far from Birmingham, the great manufacturing city of the 18th and 19th centuries and the center of the industrial Midlands. On the map:

(#5) Wales on the left, England on the right

The map takes in considerable territory, to show Stoke-on-Trent (famous for its pottery industry) on the north and the port city of Bristol on the south (the Lund and Miller porcelain factory of 1750-51 there was bought out by Royal Worcester in 1752.)

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