30 January 2008

The Importance of Eggs in Bars

I was having a beer at Keens Chop House, contemplating the many pricey good items to be had on the bar menu, when I noticed a wire rack loaded with hard-boiled eggs. Being low on cash and long on hunger, I asked, "How much for the eggs?" "They're free," said the barkeep. Ah, free. I'll take an egg, then.

Taverns and saloons 100 years ago may have been rough joints, and you always ran to risk of being Shanghaied or slipped a Mickey. But they provided you with food in some form, so you didn't get completely smashing drunk (or, if you did, it wasn't their fault). Keens' eggs are a throwback by the bygone tradition of the free lunch. Many of the old drinking establishments used to lay out free buffets which were all you can eat. (You'll still find this in some pubs in England.) Men drank, but they could also eat if they chose, without worrying it would chip into their drinking money.

Today, the food you find on most bars is the salty kind: chips, pretzels, etc. As anyone in the bar biz knows, these are not meant to provide sustanance. They're meant to make you thirsty, so you order more liquor.


Anonymous said...

At the Marlin, a long-defunct bar on Broadway near 110th St., hardboiled eggs were, in fact, a (small) profit center. In the early 1980s, they were offered for 25 cents each under the name of "boneless chicken dinner."

Wanted Man Works said...

Until recently Moonshine in Red Hook always had salted on peanuts on hand - in the shell no less - for patrons. Regrettably, the health department no longer allows them to do so. The barrel is now empty.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

We need more peanuts in this city, and less health!

Ralph said...

In the 50's my father took me on runs to deliver boiled ROOSTER EGGS: the eggs with a zipper (with a stip of tape around each egg to remove the shell) to bars & liquor stores in Rockford, IL.