2408: Egg Strategies

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Egg Strategies
Neutral Evil is for people who like keeping the weight nicely centered in the carton, but also hate everyone else who wants that.
Title text: Neutral Evil is for people who like keeping the weight nicely centered in the carton, but also hate everyone else who wants that.


This comic shows nine egg cartons, each of which contains between five and eight eggs. The cartons are presented in the format of a Dungeons & Dragons alignment chart. Originally created as a way of categorizing game characters' motivations, the chart has three possibilities on each axis: lawful/neutral/chaotic on the X (obedience) axis and good/neutral/evil on the Y (intentions) axis. Used outside its original purpose, the chart has become a meme for categorizing things it has no real applicability to. This comic is one such meme. The rationale for deciding how good or evil an arrangement is based on how the eggs are balanced in the carton.

Eggs in America are traditionally sold by the dozen, with egg cartons consisting of 12 cups to hold them in place. A consumer is unlikely to consume all 12 eggs at once[citation needed] (unless feeding a great many people, or perhaps making a traditional pound cake), which means that the carton will be gradually emptied. Different people have different tendencies as to the order in which they remove eggs. This comic depicts various possible storage schemes for the unused eggs and assigns them D&D alignments.

By the standards of this comic, "good" attributes appear to include targeting having symmetry, with a center of gravity near the center of the carton. Presumably, this is considered to make the carton easier to handle and less likely to cause problems for anyone else who uses the carton. The "evil" alignments appear to go out of their way to make the carton eggs harder to use, with the ultimate example of simply smashing all the eggs.

Alignment Description of alignment Description of eggs Explanation
Lawful Good A character who believes in altruism, discipline, and the stability of order, authority, and responsibility. Paladins are traditionally Lawful Good. Eggs are picked from the edges, with the eggs in the center remaining Taking eggs away from the edges of the carton first keeps the center of gravity of the carton in the middle (both horizontally and vertically), reducing the likelihood of accidents due to unexpected center of gravity when picking up the carton. It also minimizes the moment of inertia, making it easy to rotate the carton to change its orientation. The patterns of eggs and spaces have twofold rotational symmetry around the vertical axis through the center of the carton. This strategy is, literally, centralized; and according to Randall, good. The idea is this person believes in keeping the carton easy to handle, and that following a strict pattern will help.
Neutral Good A character who believes in spreading goodness and benevolence, and fighting evil; they have either no strong feelings toward laws and authority, or are conflicted on the matter. Eggs are picked from the center of the carton, leaving the eggs on the edges. For an odd number of eggs, as shown, this leaves the center of gravity slightly towards the left, while the center of gravity is at the center of the carton when the number of eggs is even; but the carton has a relatively high moment of inertia. It is neither centralized nor random; Randall interprets this as “Neutral Good.” The idea is this person believes in keeping the carton easy to handle, and that a general, flexible pattern will help.
Chaotic Good A character who believes in goodness, with an emphasis on free will in particular, and strives to fight oppression. Heroic Rogues are the traditional examples of Chaotic Good (e.g., Robin Hood). A chaotic good xkcd character would be Beret Guy. Eggs are picked randomly, while preserving reflective symmetry between eggs and empty spaces, as well as roughly balancing eggs between the sides of the carton. The idea is this person believes in keeping the carton easy to handle, and clearly pays at least some attention to how the next user will be impacted. The fact that the person put that much thought into symmetry and usability demonstrates that the person's intention is good, and the fact that the selections were made quasi-randomly suggests a deliberate rebellion against a set pattern, i.e. that the person's obedience is chaotic.
Lawful Neutral A character who places the highest emphasis on laws and traditions, who does not generally have malicious intent, but is also not driven by altruism. Such a character tends to define their morality primarily in terms of what their rules dictate. They favor strict hierarchies. Eggs are picked from the top row first, then the bottom, starting on one side. This is a very organized method of picking eggs from a carton, but the center of mass shifts to one side. The idea is that this person has a very specific pattern for removing eggs from the carton (as if the person were not trying to follow a specific pattern, they would likely remove eggs from the row that has more eggs left), and holds to it without regard to whether it's actually the best way.
True Neutral A character who primarily acts on what seems like a good idea, who has both a lack of bias but also a lack of conviction. Druids are traditionally True Neutral, though this is commonly stereotyped as the alignment of non-player characters such as innocent bystanders and wild animals. Eggs are picked from one side, with both rows being roughly equal. The idea is a character who does not put much thought into optimizing the carton, and simply takes eggs out of one side, which is common, intuitive, and works well enough.
Chaotic Neutral A character who believes in independence and free will, shirks at traditions or oaths that might tie him down, and has no strong feelings for morality toward or sadism against those around them. Eggs are picked in a chessboard pattern. This is a very unusual way of picking eggs from a carton. The center of mass is balanced when there are six eggs left, but given that other strategies of neutral intentions do not specifically try to keep the mass balanced, a chaotic neutral person would likely remove the eggs in each checkboard zig-zag from left to right or from right to left, causing the container to be unbalanced unless there are exactly six (or twelve or zero) eggs left. The idea is a person who isn't out to make things harder for others but cares more about breaking from traditional rules (by making a fun and unusual pattern) than about optimizing things for others (where a balanced carton would be considered optimized).
Lawful Evil A character who believes in a strict set of rules, be it a set of laws, code of honor, or body of tradition, but is nonetheless a dangerous and violent or greedy figure who abuses others for his own ends. Dictators and zealots are often Lawful Evil. Eggs are kept in the middle of the carton, stacked atop each other in a pyramid shape. This keeps the weight nicely centered and puts most of the eggs in their proper spaces but makes it impossible to close the lid of the carton. The idea is a character who wants to frustrate everyone around them, while technically holding to a systematic set of rules about the best way to store eggs.
Neutral Evil A character who cares only for self-interest, often with a tint of bloodthirstiness or sadism, with no strong feelings for discipline or allegiance beyond what is beneficial to themselves. Sometimes referred to as the "asshole alignment". Villainous rogues, such as assassins, are traditionally Neutral Evil. Eggs are stacked in the exact middle of the open carton, in the top row, and on the open lid. This keeps the weight centered in the carton only when the lid is open. Since the connection between the lid and the carton is flexible, someone picking up the carton would have to hold the lid and carton separately so that the eggs don't fall off. As explained in the Title Text, Randall interprets Neutral Evil as a character who would put some thought into what other people might want, and go out of their way to deliberately make things more inconvenient for them.
Chaotic Evil A character who cares only for destruction, hedonism, and personal gain, who actively seeks to thwart or harm others, and who actively resists any kind of permanent allegiance and structured planning. Monsters and demons are traditionally Chaotic Evil. Eggs are smashed in the center of the carton. Smashing the eggs makes it impossible for anyone to have them and creates a terrible mess that the next person will have to spend time cleaning up (unless, of course, that person is also chaotic evil). It takes little or no planning or forethought, just malice and a willingness to destroy. This is likely the action of a character who enjoys destroying things for the sake of destruction, like Black Hat or Danish.

An alignment chart was also featured in 2251: Alignment Chart Alignment Chart, which was published exactly one year earlier.


[3x3 grid of egg cartons, each containing between 5-8 eggs in an arrangement matching a description of lawful/neutral/chaotic paired with good/neutral/evil. Each egg carton is depicted from a top-down view, with the lid open and the eggs and their places visible.]

Top Left - Lawful Good

[6 eggs centered

3 in the top row, shifted to the right

3 in the bottom row, shifted to the left]

Top Center - Neutral Good

[7 eggs

4 in the left side

3 in the right side, with one in the top row and two in the bottom row]

Top Right - Chaotic Good

[6 eggs spread randomly while preserving reflective symmetry between eggs and non-eggs]

Middle Left - Lawful Neutral

[5 eggs all on the bottom row, starting on the left side]

Middle Center - True Neutral

[7 eggs all to the left side

4 in the top row

3 in the bottom row]

Middle Right - Chaotic Neutral

[6 eggs staggered in every other space so that each egg is diagonal from the two nearest

no two eggs are directly next to each other side-to-side or up-and-down

3 in the top row, starting in the left-most position

3 in the bottom row; starting position second from the left side]

Bottom Left - Lawful Evil

[8 eggs

6 in the egg carton, centered but offset one place to the left; 3 eggs each on the top and bottom

2 eggs are on top of the 6 that are placed in the carton]

Bottom Center - Neutral Evil

[8 eggs

3 on the bottom edge of the lid

2 in the top center positions in the egg carton

3 centered on the edge and on top of/between the eggs on the lid and the eggs in the proper positions]

Bottom Right - Chaotic Evil

[broken eggs in the center of the carton and spilling/splattering over the rest of the carton and onto the lid

6 or 7 yellow-orange yolks are visible

the spilled egg whites are colored light yellow-greenish

several pieces of eggshells, varying in size from approximately one-half to very small chips are mixed in with the yolks and whites]

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I'm not going to get into it because it's not related to these egg cartons, but it is really weird sitting here explaining a joke while I listen to breaking news on the radio. Captain Video (talk) 22:24, 6 January 2021 (UTC)

Why are you lot all anxiously listening to the radio? Is there something I should know? 21:39, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps this, or this? Nk1406 (talk) 01:34, 8 January 2021 (UTC)
Why is the news breaking? Does a Chaotic Evil person maintain the news carton? 09:34, 20 January 2021 (UTC)

I really thought it was just me who cared about center of gravity for eggs. 23:43, 6 January 2021 (UTC)

We keep the hard boiled ones at one end and the fr4esh ones at the other end.

Bring True Neutral (egg carton sits lengthwise in fridge, most convenient egg is removed until carton is empty), I am baffled by the existence of other "strategies". Do people really do this? 00:57, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

True Neutral here, and also putting the carton in the fridge eggless side out (which is consistent with "most convenient egg removed"). The current explanation says that this is "a disaster waiting to happen". Why?
As a side-note, as I understand it, the alternate strategies can be convenient if you don't put the carton lengthwise in the fridge (particularly if you don't put it in the fridge at all). 11:26, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
I am also True Neutral - when putting the carton into the fridge end-first it allows me to extract it with the majority of the weight in my hand. It's a disaster if it is inserted the heavy side in first because when I grab the empty end the weight of the eggs can tip them out the other side. As an aside, I was a little insulted to find out that I am not the only person in the world who actually has an "egg carton strategy". I thought I was unique! ;-) Rtanenbaum (talk) 13:40, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
Ha, no, far from it! Nothing new under the sun, I guess. Here's some documentation of prior art by John McIntosh from 2006, under the title "Egg Carton Theory". Dvgrn (talk) 17:27, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
Chiming in on True Neutral strategy, which I also use, with some added thoughts: I also put the heavy end in first, but primarily because I usually have two cartons stacked, where inserting the heavy end on top of the full carton in the fridge makes it easier to push the carton the rest of the way in on top of the bottom carton. Putting it in the other way around, the heavy end is hanging off the bottom carton, resulting in less stability before it's pushed all the way in. If you can't tell, I'm an engineer! Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 14:41, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
Chaotic Neutral here. Doing it that way means I have the benefit of a seemingly random egg without thinking too much about which egg to actually pick. 17:35, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
Being Lawful Good and married to someone who is Chaotic Good, we might sometimes argue over this. 03:23, 7 January 2021 (UTC) MSS
I guess my strategy is True Neutral as well, though my reason being that I put the empty side face the back of the freezer to reduce the chance of frost, which I assumed is bad for eggs. Tharkon (talk) 20:13, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

Ignoring the "neutral" part for now, what's chaotic about that? It's literally the most perfectly balanced arrangement. It has perfect rotational symmetry as well. 04:01, 8 January 2021 (UTC)

Carton size[edit]

In Germany, there are two sizes of egg cartons, containing 6 or 10 eggs, respectively. Most refrigerators I’ve seen (in stores or households) contain an egg-holder with six dents, though I also have occasionally seen 10-dent egg holders. Since I usually buy 20 eggs at the weekly market, my strategy is to transfer the eggs from a package to the egg holder once there are less than 9 left in the package (for the purpose of knowing how many are still left without having to open a package). If there are more than six eggs, the one or two additional eggs are placed lying besides the egg holder. I think that counts as chaotic neutral. 01:42, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

I've only seen cartons of six or ten as well, the phrase "A standard egg carton has 12 cups for 12 eggs" seems a bit presumptuous. Tharkon (talk) 20:13, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
I'm usually using cartons of six, however I noticed I have few cartons of ten left here. Regardless, I feel like it SHOULD be dozen eggs ... not sure why, maybe it used to be dozen (12) in past? -- Hkmaly (talk) 04:38, 8 January 2021 (UTC)
Just to add some info on egg carton sizes: here in the Netherlands, most cartons contain 6 eggs, although there are cartons with 3, 4, 7 and 10 eggs as well. The carton with 7 eggs has one egg in the middle, so any strategy would take the middle egg either first or last (anything else seems insane). Having seen American fridges in TV shows, I guess the larger egg cartons in the USA have something to do with their larger fridges (or perhaps it's the other way round). 16:17, 8 January 2021 (UTC)

Depiction wrong[edit]

I've got a niggling feeling that Chaotic Neutral (at least) is wrongly depicted. Too orderly. I'd have put Chaotic Good's pattern there (not necessarily vice-versa, as the current incumbent looks more Lawful or Variation-of-neutrality as well as Good) as attempting to maintain balance but with an element of chance. We don't know what sequence of removal led to each of these states, of course. That might make much of the difference in how we reach the illustrated states. 03:03, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

I'd go a little further and swap CG and CN (the current CG being a marginally more ordered and balanced CN) but otherwise agree. CN is the strategy I use when the carton is at risk of being centrally supported while in humid conditions (don't ask), making NG risk bending of the whole carton. LG is actually worse then NG in some circumstances, due to a drastically reduced moment of inertia contributing to the chance of dropping. On the other hand, NG increases the probability of end-shattering if the carton is actually dropped. Overall, different strategies are probably a result of experience, circumstance, relative clumsiness, and hat colour. 05:43, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

I feel like the chaotic good isn't random. It seems like it could be Braille or something like that, maybe? I don't know, I might looking for patterns where there are none.

Is it bother anyone that there are different numbers of eggs in each carton? At least there should have been two boxes for each alignment, one with an even number of eggs and one with odd.

I was thinking precisely this. Can lead to a sense of "apples and oranges" otherwise. 15:51, 7 January 2021 (UTC)MeZimm


Learned something today: Americans refrigerate eggs 18:55, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

It has something to do with the way that they're treated over here. We don't (have to) refrigerate fresh eggs. -neverdroptop 19:56, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
I refrigerate eggs as well, and I'm not American.Tharkon (talk) 20:13, 7 January 2021 (UTC)
If eggs are washed with a bleach solution prior to packaging, their membranous outer coating (often including quite bit of blood &\or feces) gets stripped away, leaving the shell's surface porous & receptive to contaminants; thereafter those eggs can become spoiled much more readily. In the US, all eggs shipped across state lines for sale as food must be rinsed, therefore almost all eggs shipped to any US supermarket grocery, need to be refrigerated. If you get fresh eggs unrinsed, they can sit unrefrigerated for weeks without a significant rate of spoilage. ProphetZarquon (talk) 20:45, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

Alternative strategies[edit]

My egg strategy was “you can’t possibly be 🏳️‍⚧️ this is just some fetish” at which point I got super comfortable liking all the girly things ever because it didn’t mean 🏳️‍⚧️. Then when I finally realized I was the last to know.