conventional wisdom

A Brief History of Acid-Filled Eggs

There’s a stock photo for everything. Photo: Emrah Turudu/iStockphoto

About three days ago, it seemed like this year’s drama-deprived GOP convention would be — to paraphrase Larry David — prettaaayyy, prettaayyyy, prettaaayyy boring. Now there’s a potential hurricane barreling down on Tampa, and oh, what’s this? An FBI bulletin warning of anarchist protesters armed with acid-filled eggs? Yep, that’s what it is.

Federal authorities are urging law enforcement agencies across the country to watch out for signs that extremists might be planning to wreak havoc at the upcoming political conventions — by blocking roads, shutting down transit systems and even employing what were described as acid-filled eggs.

The concept of acid-filled eggs may be new to you, but it seems to be a time-honored tradition within certain left-wing protest movements. As the New Yorker reported, they turned up during the 1999 WTO riots in Seattle:

The black-bloc crews, whose graffiti and occasional “communiques” run to nihilist slogans (“Civilization Is Collapsing-Let’s Give It a Push!”), were masked, well organized, young and fleet of foot, and armed with crowbars and acid-filled eggs.

In 1998, British authorities became concerned that animal-rights activists with the Animal Liberation Front had armed themselves with acid-filled eggs:

Scotland Yard is preparing to deal with a terrifying device known to be in the hands of extreme animal rights protesters — the acid-filled egg. Police fear leading politicians could be blinded, maimed or scarred for life if struck by one of the eggs. Protection officers now carry emergency antidote kits.

In fact, the use of the acid-filled egg goes back more than a century. According to an April 22, 1905, story in the New York Times:

Although the teamsters’ strike is not marked by quite so much violence as it was a few days ago, none of Montgomery Ward Co.’s goods can be moved without the assistance of a large body of police, and even then there are demonstrations with bricks and acid-filled egg shells.

By this point, you’re saying “Okay, we get it, explain how they make the acid eggs already.” Fine, but only because it’s pretty obvious: According to the Telegraph, the AFL would use a needle to inject a special formula of sulfuric acid — not strong enough to “eat through the shell but still be strong enough to damage human tissue” — into the egg, then cover the egg with wax to seal up the hole. 

Whether the acid-filled eggs actually materialize at the conventions remains to be seen. Anarchists, kind of by definition, aren’t always the most organized bunch. Still, if you’re looking for us down there, we’ll be the guy wearing Amar’e-style goggles the entire time.