December 8, 2023

There were some suggestions this year during the planning of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll that included substitutes for the Easter eggs. The egg market has been a sore subject with many consumers. Soaring prices and avian flu outbreaks have hounded consumers for more than a year.

Some suggestions like potatoes and rocks have been offered as substitutes for the 30,000 eggs needed for the White House Easter Egg Roll. No one wants 30,000 potatoes or rocks on the White House lawn instead of Easter eggs, though, so the Easter Egg Roll goes on as it traditionally does. The egg industry is giddy with relief.

“It’s kind of our Super Bowl,” Emily Metz, CEO and president of the American Egg Board, said about the holiday, adding that more than 3 billion eggs are sold during the season.

The avian flu took a steep toll on commercial chicken flocks of egg-laying hens and broiler chickens beginning last year. The avian flu and supply chain issues helped fuel a 70% rise in egg prices in the last 12 months through January 2023. Inflation is real and it moderated to an annual rate o 55% in February. That is still way too high. People started talking about cheaper alternatives to eggs. How about potatoes?

Memes on Twitter helped to call attention to the possible shortage of Easter eggs. One of those suggestions was to use potatoes instead of eggs. They are sturdy and people pointed out that they can be decorated, same as eggs.

Twitter responded as memes appeared in January calling for cheaper alternatives to Easter eggs, one of the proposed options being Easter potatoes. Potatoes USA, a commodity board in Colorado focused on marketing spuds, joined in on the chatter. #easterpotatoes continues to surface on social media.

“Earlier this year, we noticed people online started talking about painting Easter potatoes, and we thought it was a really fun idea to add to their Easter festivities,” Kimberlee Breshears, Potatoes USA chief marketing officer, said via email. “We’ve loved the response to this campaign — people seem to be having a lot of fun with it.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suggested other alternatives. In a March blog post, the organization called on first lady Jill Biden to replace chicken eggs in the White House event with plastic or wooden eggs or painted rocks as a less costly and more humane approach.

So, after all of that brouhaha, the decision was made to continue to use eggs. Painting potatoes? Really? No. Case closed.

Jill Biden is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College and we are regularly reminded of that fact. For the second year in a row, Jill is using the theme “Eggucation” for the White House Easter Egg Roll. She’s an English professor who seems to have no problem with the playful spelling of education. The egg lobby approves.

Metz, whose board markets and promotes egg sales domestically and internationally, said a refrigerated truck full of finished eggs dyed to match color charts provided by the White House reached its destination the weekend before Easter. The event is the White House’s largest public event and showcases U.S. eggs not only at the hunt, the roll and the decorating stations, but also among the food options.

‘This year we will have a special exhibit on the lawn that talks about the journey of the egg from the farm to the plate but also from the farm to the Easter egg roll,” said Metz, part of the effort “to make sure eggs are very well represented.”

The big news, though, is that there is a new Easter Bunny debuting this year. Traditionally, the Easter Bunny is played by a staffer but this year the White House is eggcited to announce an official White House Easter Bunny Family. It is made possible via the White House Historical Association. Vanessa Valdivia, spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden, said an upgrade was much-needed.

It may sound frivolous but the Easter Bunny is an important American tradition.

“There are certain things that are part of the American fabric. Tradition is what makes a country unique. Every country has things that are woven into its fabric, and this is one of ours,” Sean Spicer told CNN in a recent interview. (The onetime Trump White House press secretary had donned the White House Easter Bunny costume during the George W. Bush administration when he served as assistant US trade representative for media and public affairs.)

A little-known secret from experienced White House bunnies is that, usually, multiple people play the role in hour-plus-long shifts over the course of the day’s events.

“The big lesson learned is – be the first person,” Spicer said. “Early is key. Doesn’t matter what the temperature is – the suit gets hot and gross, quick.”

There will be educational activities set up to keep the children busy. NASA “sent one of the wooden Official White House Easter Eggs up to the International Space Station, where astronauts could demonstrate the laws of gravity to students everywhere.”

And, there are plenty of special guests to mingle with the crowd.

Special guests will include USA Olympic gold medalist gymnast Dominique Dawes, Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, Sesame Street actor Alan Muraoka and characters Rosita and Elmo, members of the Philadelphia Eagles, actress and singer Halle Bailey and cast members from Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway, among others, per the White House.

Let’s hope Joe Biden doesn’t have to be walked off by the Easter Bunny this year. Remember the video from last year when he was dazed and confused on the White House lawn? He was asked by a reporter about Afghanistan and he was quickly whisked away. Good times, good times.