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Seventy-three New Englanders out of 100 say “dropped eggs,” and only twenty-seven out of 100 say “poached eggs,” when asked what they call eggs taken whole from the shell, put into boiling water, and usually served on toast.

The New England preference for “dropped eggs,” an expression used nowhere else in the United States, has been established by the Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canada, a research project for studying dialectical variations in American English. Results of the survey are described by Herbert Penzl of Brown University, where the Atlas has its headquarters, in an article appearing in the current issue of American Speech.

Some people have never heard of either “dropped eggs” or “poached eggs,” the survey has revealed. One informant in Connecticut said he thought they were “mostly for sick people.” Another man in Rhode Island said, “I don’t go in for them fancy dishes.” A few people in scattered sections of New England referred to “dropped eggs” or “poached eggs” as “eggs on toast” and “scalded eggs.” The cafeteria expression, “Adam and Eve on a raft,” was also duly noted.

The survey of the use of “dropped eggs” and “poached eggs” is part of the Atlas’s intensive study of linguistic differences in all sections of New England, which is being carried out under the direction of Dr. Hans Kurath, professor of Germanic languages and general linguistics at Brown University, and Prof. Miles L. Hanley of Harvard University.





Comments (3)
10/23/07
 
Was reading a novel by Robert B. Parker and he mentioned eating corned beef hash and dropped eggs. I was immediately transported back to my childhood in Ft. Kent, Maine. I haven't heard of "dropped eggs" since then and that's going back about 65 years or more. Also remember "Adam and Eve on a raft". Have been away from Maine for 47 years. Had to drop everything and check it out on the Net. It was like taking a trip back in time.
 
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07/20/13
 
You could order dropped eggs at Bickford's cafeteria on Huntington Ave. near Northeastern U. as of 1970. They had them at NU dormitories as well. (Everyone served frappes back then too and many people had never heard the phrase 'milk shake') 
 
Half of the 27% also believe we never went to the moon; dropped eggs are not poached eggs. Poached eggs are individually contained by pocketed cookware and cooked with steam at 100 degrees C. Dropped eggs go directly in water at ... 100 degrees C. Slightly above 100 if you put a lot of salt in the water like I do to help them float to the surface when they are cooked.
 
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12/23/13
 
About 1972 I worked nights at Cardell's Restaurant in Harvard Square. A couple of guys in suits and ties came in and wandered to the back counter, which was closed for the night. They looked at the menu boards which advertized "Two eggs, dropped or poached."  
 
One said, "I know what a poached egg is, but what's a 'dropped egg?'" I said, "I can tell you aren't from around here," and clued him in.
 
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