(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- "Look! It's blue!" 3-year-old Addie Ziegler cried out as she pulled the hard-boiled egg out of a cup full of a blue water.
Addie had been waiting all of 10 minutes to get a peek at her egg. Along with her older sister, Annie, 5, and 2-year-old cousin, Emma, the three were taking part in an Easter tradition many families share each year -- dying Easter eggs.
"Kids do get messy," admitted Annie's and Addie's mother, Kim Ziegler. "But we parents sometimes forget that's part of the fun for them -- getting to make a mess."
Families have been dying Easter eggs since the medieval times, using natural dyes such as red and yellow onion peels or berries.
Today so many egg dying kits are available and vinegar isn't even needed in the dye. "Just add water" is plastered on many kit boxes.
The girls were using two different kits to dye the eggs. One was a traditional kit with colored tablets that get tossed into water with a drop or two of vinegar added to each cup. The other was one of the newer kits now on the market -- a sponge-painting kit.
"I really like this one," noted Ziegler about the kit, as she dabbed the triangular sponge into a nickel-sized blob of pink paint. "It's more creative and the colors are brighter and shinier. I think it's easier (for the kids) to use, but maybe a little more messy."
With the sponges, different colors can be used and overlap each other. Ziegler said she thinks the quality of egg dying kits has gotten a lot better over the years, but the excitement from the kids remains the same.
"I get a kick out of their (the kids') reactions," Ziegler said. "They're like, 'Oh, look it's blue' or 'Look I used red and blue together and now it's purple.' They get to learn about how the color wheel works and it reinforces what they learn in school at home."
Mike Comer of New Madrid said his family still uses the traditional, regular egg dye.
"We usually do it the old fashioned way and stay away from the new fangled stuff," Comer said. "I did it when I was a kid, and I've carried it over with my children."
Comer's five children range in age from 4 to 20. He said the 11, 10, 8 and 4-year-olds really get into the egg dying.
"About a day or two before Easter, we dye them together," Comer explained. "We usually go to my mother's in Poplar Bluff and she makes baskets for them and they love it."
Despite the overwhelming popularity dying eggs has with children, Sikeston Big Lots Manager Steve Spear said over the past few years, including this year, more people are opting for plastic eggs than the egg dying kits.
"That's something that's faltered in sales this year," Spear said about the kits. "More people are buying the plastic eggs than the egg kits."
Big Lots has even sold out of plastic eggs, which are offered in a variety of colors instead of just the basic red, blue, yellow and green. There are pastel colors and even pearl-colored eggs, he added.
However, of the dye kits available, Spear said the basic kits are the first to sell and the fancy kits with glitter and swirls are the ones he has left over after the season.
The store has sold hundreds of the plastic eggs and people keep requesting them, Spear noted. He had someone come into the store a couple of weeks ago wanting 4,000 plastic eggs, and of course he didn't have that many in stock so he sold the man as many as he could -- about 1,100 or 1,200.
"I guess a lot of people don't take time to dye eggs because they're so busy or maybe it's not a tradition in their family," Ziegler said.
Even though some families dye Easter eggs for fun, Ziegler reminded the Easter Bunny is always needed. She said it's the Easter Bunny who usually colors the eggs, but her family will color a dozen or so on their own each year.
"And if the Easter Bunny's really busy, he'll send us a message that he needs us to color them," Ziegler said. "Then we'll leave them out for him to hide and we'll hunt them in the morning."