By the dozen–but why?

eggsIsn’t it funny how something utterly familiar will suddenly strike you as . . . odd? While having dinner with friends I was telling a story about a neighbor who used to give us fresh eggs and we realized that none of us knew why eggs come in dozens. Not to mention donuts.

Not an urgent question, but one I decided to look up.

Of course 12 is an important number. Just think of all the twelves:

  • 12 months in a year
  • 12 hour markings on a clock
  • 12 inches in a foot
  • 12 signs of the Zodiac
  • 12 tribes of Israel
  • 12 apostles of Christ
  • 12 days of Christmas

So clearly, it’s an important number and I wondered if it had some deep, philosophical meaning.

Not really.

Turns out in England there are 12 pence in a shilling and eggs (and rolls) were sold for a pence apiece. So a dozen is one shilling’s worth. It was just a scheme to avoid making change. And the habit was carried to the New World where we continue to practice it to this day.

So who wants to look up why there are 12 pence in a shilling?

Categories: Food, Friends, History

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