Wooden eggs, hi-tech eggs, 19,000 hens' eggs: All the details on the stars of the Presidential Eggstravaganza...
Eggs will of course take center stage at the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, when President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome more than 30,000 visitors from all 50 states to the South Lawn, for a day of fun that features performances from plenty of celebrity talent. (Above: A photo of the President and young Rollers at this year's event)
A tradition started in 1878, the theme this year is Get Up and Go!, to reflect Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign. Much of the going will include thousands upon thousands of eggs for the various activities, which are everything from egg races and hunts to cooking demonstrations. There will also be very special eggs that America's hardworking hens had no part in producing. Below, an eggsacting recap of the 2011 Egg Facts. (Above: The President "eggs on" one tiny girl clad in her Easter best during the 2009 Egg Roll Race)
The Egg Rolling Race...and who boils & dyes all those eggs?!
14,500 hard-boiled and dyed eggs will be used between the Egg Roll and the Egg Hunt. The most famous event of modern Easter Egg Rolls, the Egg Rolling Race was introduced in 1974, with spoons borrowed from the White House kitchen. Kids now use big wood spoons to try to roll hard-boiled eggs up a grassy track. Whomever gets to the finish line first in the un-timed but rapid race is the winner. Last year, the President and Mrs. Obama joined the fun, running alongside the kids as they rolled the eggs to the finish line. President Obama high-fived all the kids at the end. (Above: Chefs in the White House kitchen with some of the thousands of eggs)
The Easter Egg Roll will use 72 wooden spoons and 8 whistles for the starting line judges, according to the White House. Egg hunt "pits" were introduced in 1981 during the Reagan Era, so kids could dig for eggs that held the president's autograph (see below for the history of autographed eggs).
*The Virginia Egg Council organizes the egg donation for the White House, and gathers these from a variety of poultry operations.
*4,500 boiled white eggs will be decorated at the Paas Egg Dying station throughout the course of the day. Volunteers and graduates of the Culinary Job Training program at DC Central Kitchen, a local non-profit, cooked the eggs in their facility and delivered them to the White House this weekend. (Above: DCCK Eggsters at work; check out more of their photos here)
*The eggs will be wrangled at the White House by Dale Haney, the Head Groundskeeper, according to a White House aide. These eggs were sourced from Glenwood Farms, in Virginia.
*During the healthy cooking demonstrations in the Play With Your Food activity area, which is anchored by the White House Kitchen garden, at least one recipe will use eggs, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses told Obama Foodorama. Yosses is demonstrating how to make a healthy Frozen Fruit Souffle--and yes, the recipe will be posted here later.
*2,000 eggs will be used to provide breakfast for the volunteers who work at the Easter Egg Roll; they arrive as early as 5:00 AM, and some have worked the event for years.
Among the many innovations (an online ticket lottery, a poster design contest) the President and Mrs. Obama have brought to their annual Easter celebration are the “Chirping eggs” that will be available for visually impaired children participating in the Egg Roll and Egg Hunt (above).
The "eggs" are oversized and made of white plastic, and emit a high-pitched "chirp" so they can be easily found using ears instead of eyes. Last year, these eggs had the stamp of Verizon corporation on them.
Wooden Commemorative Eggs...
Kids 12 and under are the special guests at the Easter Egg Roll, and each is given a special goody bag at the end of their two hours of fun on the South Lawn.
Tucked inside will be a special wooden commemorative egg, which bears the President and First Lady's stamped autograph, as well as this year's Jumping Bunny logo. The eggs this year are lovely pastel colors (above); last year, they were hot neon colors.
The wooden eggs are made in the US from Forest Stewardship Council-certified US hardwood. The packaging of the eggs, made from recyclable paperboard, was designed to minimize waste and environmental impact. The souvenir eggs are also available for purchase from the from the National Park Foundation. Individual Eggs are $7.50, and a pack with all four colors is $26.50. (Above: Last year's eggs, which are still available for purchase from the NPF)
President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush were the first to stamp the autographs of the President and First Lady on the commemorative wood eggs.
The Spring Easter Egg Showpiece
Yosses and assistant pastry chef Susie Morrison have created a very large decorative egg showpiece for kids to look at and take photos with, which Yosses liken to a very oversized jeweled Fabergé egg. It's pastel, and made entirely of various kinds of sugar, marizpan and gum paste, and is intricately detailed. It will be placed in the Play With Your Food activity area, and after four days of labor, still wasn't yet done at the time of this writing. (Yosses, with carrots tucked in his toque)
It's Yosses' third showpiece for an Obama Easter Egg Roll. Last year, he created a chocolate farm, with little egg-shaped houses, which tragically melted by mid-day, thanks to 80+ degree weather. This year's eggstravaganza is designed to withstand the all kinds of weather, Yosses said. More on the Fabergé showpiece on Monday.
Ronald Reagan creates the Autographed Egg tradition...
The Bushes were building off an autographing tradition that was started by President Ronald Reagan, the first American president to have been a film star before he was a politician. President Reagan innovated the tradition of signing the real dyed hard-boiled eggs that were hidden for children to find in the South Lawn Egg Hunt. (Above: As First Lady Nancy Reagan looks on, President Regan autographs an egg at the April 4, 1983 Roll)
Photos: Top by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; second by Paul Morse/White House; third from DC Central Kitchen; fourth & seventh by Eddie Gehman Kohan/ObamaFoodorama.com; fifth & sixth by Chuck Kennedy/White House; last from Ronald Reagan presidential Library