In the process of renovating one of our bathrooms, the contractor found some moldering newspaper behind the tile wall, dating from Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1936. Yellow and crumbling, this page from the New York Star, featured the following food story: “Tony Easts ‘Em Shell and All.’ The story revealed that recent Italian immigrant,Anthony Laforenza, a Bronx tavern keeper, was in the habit of scarfing down eggs, shells and all. Laforenza, according to the story, claimed he was the champion egg gobbler of the world. But that’s not all. Along with eggs, Tony, consumed other items along with two dozen eggs: a raw unpeeled potato, a lemon, some bologna, cellophane wrapping, and a glass of beer and a glass of wine.
In 1936, in the depths of the Depression, Americans were looking to crazy stunts to cheer themselves up — from marathon dancing to egg devouring. Those were far more innocent — and less demanding — times. Today, we require more sophisticated amusements, like video games and flat panel TVs, to take our minds off the state of the world.