Sitting in one of my kitchen drawers is an inch-high, red plastic cylinder that stands upon a white base about an inch and a half wide. On the top of this cylinder is a white, spring-loaded concave dome with a hole in the center. When this dome is pressed, a needle pokes above about a centimeter through the center hole.

My husband was first introduced to this item in an unfriendly way. Reaching into the drawer blindly for another item, he took hold of the object and pressed upon the top. “Ouch!” What medieval torture device was I hiding in the kitchen?

“It’s for eggs. You’ve never seen one?”

Both my grandmothers had one, and I had assumed it was as ubiquitous as Tupperware-brand or fondue sets were, back in the day. It’s purpose is to poke a small hole into eggs to keep them from cracking while they are boiling. I still don’t know the proper name for this gadget, and so I have dubbed it an Egg UKO, Unidentified Kitchen Object.

Mine comes from my dad’s mother’s kitchen, and I remember her using it frequently growing up. Whenever we would spend the night, my grandma would fix my sisters and I a pre-breakfast before my parents got up and that meant soft-boiled eggs. These eggs were a delicacy for me. Not only were they a dish we rarely had at home, but my grandma made even how they were served special. Each egg got its own single-serving egg cup with a tiny home-knitted cozy overtop. It felt heritage-rich and high class-fancy, all at the same time.

She would let us take turns punching our eggs on the Egg UKO before we dropped them in the pot of water. Then she would turn on the stove, start the timer, and we would wait patiently on the cool kitchen bench, warmth radiating up from the heated stone floor as the sun peaked up above the horizon.

My grandma had the timing to perfection to create the best soft-boiled eggs: fully cooked, but fully runny with no hard yolk to be found. I loved taking off my cozy and picking up my spoon to tap it around the cooked egg, cracking the fragile exterior so as to provide an entry point in which to decapitate the top portion and expose the yellow gold within. Sitting in the kitchen enjoying this early morning treat with my grandma was a highlight of the weekend. It was during these times that she would teach us prayers she learned growing up in her native German or tell us stories of our grandpa and his family’s circus in the old country.

The first time I tried making soft-boiled eggs alone, I kicked myself for not having asked my grandma for the precise timing her lifetime of experience had determined made this delectable dish. I looked for a recipe in a cookbook, and, on top of feeling silly that I had to learn “how to boil an egg,” I felt with trepidation that missing my grandma’s exact timing meant they would either turn out to be too uncooked or too hard-boiled. At that point in life, I still did not like hard-boiled eggs. So I erred on the shorter side, and the eggs came out too undercooked to eat. After that, I erred the other way and had the unfortunate experience of eating some half-soft/half-hard-boiled eggs, an interesting mixture.

Today, I think I have the timing down fairly well, though not as pinpointed as my grandma had it. On top of the Egg UKO, I have one of my grandma’s egg cozies, and while I do not make soft-boiled eggs often, I enjoying seeing them when I open my kitchen drawer. They take me back to those early mornings and those special moments my grandma created for us. It makes me wonder what physical and mental memories I will pass down to my own grandkids. What stories will they cherish hearing about my youth? What dishes will they associate with me? And will they still be using the Egg UKO?

This entry was written in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.


34 thoughts on “Egg UKO

  1. Omg, I’ve never heard of this Egg UKO thing! I had no idea there was such a device. I boil eggs all the time (though I like them hard-boiled) and it drives me crazy when they crack. It’s genius!

    By the way, I love the image of you all sitting around with your Grandmother listening to stories while your eggs boiled. Wonderful story.

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  18. This was such a nice post to read. Like Andrea, I have never heard of these contraptions, but the way you talked about your memories and the feelings it elicited, you could have been referring to any old thing from the kitchen.

  19. Oh, you mean the Egg Pokey Thing.

    I’m German and I would not even *attempt* soft boiled eggs without my EPT, egg cups and, of course, the very European plastic spoons (’cause everyone knows that silver and egg yolk do not mix. Right?).

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  21. Loved it. There are some things in the past that have faded with time as to their use. My abilities are there now as the youth thinks they know everything and will correct the world. I know that my generation tried and we like some of the objects we used broke and faded in time.

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