Sheer Innovation: The iconic L'Eggs egg
January 24, 2016 6:40 AM   Subscribe

"The plastic shine of the L’eggs egg pantyhose package is instantly recognizable to anybody who browsed grocery, drug, or convenience store shelves during the 1970s and ‘80s. First introduced in 1969, L’eggs brought women’s hosiery out of the specialty shop and to the mass market, providing women with an alternative to the frippery of garters and stockings and simultaneously creating a merchandizing phenomenon that changed not only the hosiery industry but those of package design and visual retailing."
posted by MonkeyToes (47 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
For further adventures in ovate packaging, see Pavlova Magic.
posted by zamboni at 6:49 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


for years I wondered what that product was. early on. initially, i never read the label, and then once I was able to read and process, i couldn't comprehend how or why someone pantyhose would be rolled up into an egg-shaped package. It must be more than just pantyhose, i thought.

now at 40+ years of age and a metafilter post later, i finally get the play on words that resulted in the product name!
posted by bitteroldman at 6:53 AM on January 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


I would get so excited when my mom gave me her 'legg ' egg as a kid. I loved them. They just seemed so magical! And they were huge , probably I was just smaller.
posted by pearlybob at 6:59 AM on January 24, 2016 [36 favorites]




L’eggs was the first branded hosiery to be marketed at grocery, drug, and convenience stores, where its egg-shape would have already been familiar to food-shoppers...

God, yes. I remember the moment when I became a food shopper and first encountered an egg. What a strange, alien moment of geometric revelation that was!
posted by Devonian at 7:04 AM on January 24, 2016 [23 favorites]


Being available at grocery and drug stores seems huge, but not really because it's a place where people go who are familiar with the magical, exotic egg. Pantyhose run all the damn time and have to be replaced constantly, and it's easier to get them at a place where you're already going to be, rather than to make a special trip to a department store. I suppose the egg could have read as a reference to that: you get these at the food store, not the clothes store, which makes your life a little easier.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:09 AM on January 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


To me, these things are forever indivisible from that one scene in Robin Hood: Men in Tights
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:25 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


In second grade our class made a big model of our city and I was assigned City Hall. Guess who spraypainted a leggs egg bright gold?
posted by phunniemee at 7:26 AM on January 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Oh man. These were such a Totemic Adult Item when I was a kid, and by the time I was actually an adult they'd vanished. Like intraoffice mail envelopes or bus tokens. (And like pearlybob, I will perpetually remember them as massive — which compared to me, in the 80s, they were.)

I also remember being fascinated by their sizing charts, which in my mind are forever linked with knitting and cross-stitch patterns ("grown-up lady items based on a grid," I guess) and the tessellated floor tiling from the one real actual indoor mall in my hometown.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:30 AM on January 24, 2016 [25 favorites]


HEY C'MERE GUYS TASTE THESE MADELINES AREN'T THEY DELICIOUS?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:31 AM on January 24, 2016 [28 favorites]


Those were great! They were just the right size for trapping Lego minifigs inside, either as a kind of futuristic prison cell, or as an escape pod from a huge spaceship that had just been destroyed.

A solitary Lego person inside an eggshaped-escape-pod would know that they had a long, grim journey before the pod would finally come to a habitable planet. Months, if not years, of silent drifting through the bleak emptiness of space, their only scenery an expanse of maddening darkness with only a few pinpricks of light from distant stars. "But," the minifig would think, looking back at the debris from their former ship, "at least I'm alive. At least... I'm alive."
posted by Greg Nog at 7:31 AM on January 24, 2016 [67 favorites]


In its modest way, this thing expresses the forgotten optimism of 1970's culture (all anyone talks about is the gloom-n-doom side of it), showing us that the magical possibilities in life had not been exhausted by the limiting categories of retail shopping, and that new relations between the consumer and the ensemble of material goods were at hand.
posted by thelonius at 7:33 AM on January 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think L'eggs were a classic example of form over functionality. You basically got what you paid for, cheap hose that were relatively poor in quality and appearance. They always seemed to me like the stuff they couldn't sell under the regular Hanes department store packaging because they didn't pass quality control.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:34 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Getting them into grocery stores was indeed a coup, something news publishers also did when they got into checkout aisles in supermarkets, and the packaging - at once familiar and at home there, yet innovative, punning and mildly surreal - was truly brilliant. I don't think they ever made their way over to the UK; I first encountered the brand when I got hold of second-hand American magazines which turned up at our church jumble sales from US expat parishioners, and I remember print ads with legs kicking out of eggshells. I loved the pun.

So the branding was strong enough to make an impact on a young boy in a foreign country, which is probably about as far outside the target demographic as you could get.

(In the absence of L'eggs, we had to make do with Kinder Surprise eggs, and some rather inferior half-opaque, half-clear gumball dispensing machine packaging. I didn't like gumballs, and the Kinder Surprises were out of my pocket money bracket, so most of my egg-related experiences were of actual eggs. But we did keep hens and bantams, plus there were plenty of wild bird nests in the garden and surrounding countryside, so I was quite well catered for in the juvenile ovoid department.)
posted by Devonian at 7:42 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


At Easter it was all about finding the one that was full of quarters.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:42 AM on January 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


Frippery, fetish...potato, pah-tah-toe...
posted by Captain l'escalier at 7:42 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


by the time I was actually an adult they'd vanished. Like intraoffice mail envelopes or bus tokens.

both of which are still used in Toronto. (At least in hospitals, for the intra-office envelopes).
posted by jb at 7:49 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Used em to play Mork.
Thank you for that, L'eggs.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


Aww, pure nostalgia. A few years ago I wrote about the magic purple L'eggs egg I encountered as a kid visiting my grandparents' house.
posted by usonian at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, I always thought that L'Eggs were somehow connected to Mork & Mindy. Orkan pantyhose technology was light-years ahead of our own.

(On preview, I see Senor Cardgage had similar thoughts. :D )
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:05 AM on January 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Our L'eggs
Fit your legs
They hug you
They hold you
They never let you go
posted by allthinky at 8:10 AM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


There was a chrome-like issue I was bonkers for.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 8:15 AM on January 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


You kinda had to be there but....when they first came out, our church asked parents to save them for the kids to decorate during Easter Sunday school. At the second hymn, all us kids head up to the front with these plastic eggs. This was the tail end of the baby boom, so picture a TON of us all crowded around the pulpit, tiniest in front, bigger ones behind.

Before letting us stampede downstairs, the minister would give a children's sermon and it was always an excruciating wait. We're holding these eggs and one kid is twisting the halves together and it squeaks. Of course, this sound grabs the attention of every other kid, who then has to try it for themselves and the squeaking builds until the minister asks kindly for silence, which only lasts for about 15 seconds because some kids hadn't gotten their's to squeak yet and the older kids realized that it was impossible to pinpoint who was or wasn't squeaking their egg. So the squeaking keeps rising and falling as the minister keeps trying to silence us and is getting less and less "nice"...and the kids want to exercise this weird new "power", which is all pretty funny in a church. I think we were finally ordered to pile them on the floor in front of us.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:25 AM on January 24, 2016 [45 favorites]


Now I kind of want the sock stockingpuppet handle "juvenile ovoid department".
posted by Beti at 8:27 AM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: quite well catered for in the juvenile ovoid department.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:42 AM on January 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


L’eggs was the first branded hosiery to be marketed at grocery, drug, and convenience stores...

And, boy howdy, was it ever a game-changer. I remember when L'eggs started showing up in the supermarkets when I was a kid. The women were nuts about it. Today, it seems like a no-brainer, selling pantyhose in supermarkets and drug stores, but, back then, it was a revolutionary idea. A marketing idea that changed an entire product segment overnight.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:50 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


The one and only time I bought L'eggs for myself was when I was on the high school swim team. I had shaved my legs like a lot of the guys did and wore the hose during practice. Then I went without the hose for an actual race. Swimming with shaved legs is purely a psychological thing. I felt like a nuclear submarine. It was my last race of the season and the only one I won.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:25 AM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


the frippery of garters and stockings

An amazing time, 1968 -- the girls (even in my middle school) all fussing with their frippery. But the next year, the dress code was abandoned and they all began wearing slacks, like Hillary. Shortly thereafter the Denim Curtain came down and their legs all disappeared until the early 80s, when skirts became stylish again -- along with the mandatory tights, like Leggs.
posted by Rash at 9:56 AM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was a lad my grandfather took these containers and drew elaborate illustrations on them and filled them with candy for Easter.
posted by humanfont at 10:15 AM on January 24, 2016


You know that standard high school freshman project where they had you carry around a blown egg and pretend that was a baby? If your egg broke before a month was up, you had to write a report of some sort. Not wanting to write a report, I placed my egg in a L'eggs egg, cushioned it with a scrap of fabric, and secured it in my purse. Other kids eggs broke on a regular basis (they were playing with and handling them rather roughly), but by the end of the project my egg was still intact. The L'eggs egg had protected it from the thousand natural shocks that eggs are heir to.

I was quite pleased with myself escaping the assignment, and proudly presented my teacher with my unbroken egg at the end of the month. But since I was the only one who had successfully completed the assignment, she assigned me to write a three page paper about abortion and present it in front of the class.

Thanks a lot, Mrs. Kirsch.

(No, really, thanks a lot Mrs. Kirsch. Before writing that paper, I honestly thought abortion had been invented in the 70s.)
posted by Soliloquy at 10:33 AM on January 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


My favorite L'eggs ad is the one with the little girl watching her mom dancing on stage who yells, "MY MOM IS THE ONE WITH THE BAGGY ANKLES!! "

Attempting to find this on youtube led my 15 year old just to ask me, "did people wear pantyhose all the time?" in a totally disbelieving tone.

And after watching the "undie l'eggs" ad, I told her some people don't wear underwear with their pantyhose and now she is really freaked out by the 1980s!
posted by vespabelle at 10:41 AM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]




Holy shit, bonobothegreat reminded me of the squeak! Seriously, had a flashback there. And I also had one of the chrome ones, which were awesome for sci-fi toy playing.
posted by tavella at 11:02 AM on January 24, 2016


Oh, the chrome ones!!!1!!

There was even this L'eggs craft book, but I don't remember if it was an actual book or something you could send away for.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2016


Some classic L'eggs commercials:

Joyce DeWitt


And the winner of the First Person to Make Me Feel Old Today contest is....
posted by mudpuppie at 12:04 PM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like intraoffice mail envelopes

We still have these at my job!! They are glorious. #municipalgovernment
posted by threeants at 2:37 PM on January 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh my goodness. The 1980s. Every dress-up occasion in my house featured a last-minute run to the grocery store for "suntan" L'eggs for all the girls. All of our legs four shades darker than the rest of us. I'm not sure I even realized you could buy pantyhose in a department store. It was L'eggs or--what was the other grocery store brand that came in a normal cellophane envelope? Hanes? But L'eggs seemed like the upscale choice by comparison so that's what we always got. Fancy!
posted by HotToddy at 3:01 PM on January 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Those were great! They were just the right size for trapping Lego minifigs inside, either as a kind of futuristic prison cell, or as an escape pod from a huge spaceship that had just been destroyed.

Reminds me of the Candy Lipstick the Good Humor truck sold. Once you got rid of the candy it made an awesome atomic bomb for your army men, but the demand from little boys must have mystified the driver.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:10 PM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


To his credit, he never batted an eye about it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:12 PM on January 24, 2016


We did so many crafts with the plastic L'eggs eggs in Girl Scouts and elementary school! I still vividly remember a pomander that I made for mom to hang in her closet, using a beautiful glittery gold egg with holes melted in it (to let the fragrance out) and all kinds of fancy ribbon.
posted by belladonna at 5:07 PM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


They were just the right size for trapping Lego minifigs inside, either as a kind of futuristic prison cell, or as an escape pod from a huge spaceship that had just been destroyed.

Also they made ideal chassis for kit-bashed spacecraft. My mom thought the hose were cheap, too, but I would beg her to buy them just so I could build my fleet.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:15 PM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


merchandizing phenomenon that changed not only the hosiery industry but those of package design

At least BIC didn't think of wasting petroleum to create an instantly-disposable package. Some paleontologist 20,000 years from now will be utterly fascinated wondering what creature laid plastic eggs in landfills.

Harpies.
posted by Twang at 6:56 PM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Every dress-up occasion in my house featured a last-minute run to the grocery store for "suntan" L'eggs for all the girls.

This was me until, like, the mid 2000s. No Nonsense was the crappy cheap kind, L'eggs and Hanes were better. None of them came in any shades that approximated my skin tone. At some point I decided sheer ivory was the best of the bad options; I looked like a ghost, but I kind of looked like maybe I was just naturally a ghost.

I guess you're supposed to spend more money on the better stuff, but no matter how much I pay for hose, I usually end up snagging it on the first wear anyway. My solution's been to work at a place with a casual dress code and never get invited anywhere nice.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:13 PM on January 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


No Nonsense! Yes!
posted by HotToddy at 8:47 PM on January 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I worked at a costume company in the 80's ad we hoarded these for monster eyes. I decided I needed some for a project a couple of years ago and discovered they were no longer made to my dismay.
posted by boilermonster at 10:54 PM on January 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also they made ideal chassis for kit-bashed spacecraft.

A fearsome weapon from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation was created, in part, from a L'eggs egg.
posted by bryon at 11:53 PM on January 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


My mom could re-wear her pantyhose again and again. She would hand wash them and hang dry. It was mystifying to me because I barely got one wear out of any hose I bought - cheap or expensive.

Since I was always so rough on my hosiery, L'Eggs to the rescue! When I needed a new pair because I had a run in my very last pair, I could run in and out of a drugstore and buy them in a flash. Then duck into the bathroom at work and put them on before anyone noticed I was not wearing pantyhose.

Thankfully pants are workplace standard for women. I am so glad that I don't have to wear pantyhose now.
posted by narancia at 10:58 AM on January 25, 2016


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