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Denmark reinvents the chicken -- and gets a golden egg

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The Danes, in a word, have reinvented the chicken. It lays 500 eggs an hour -- each four times larger than a normal egg, hard-boiled, without the shell and wrapped in clear plastic.

"The 'long egg' is a real timesaver," says V. Halkjaer-Lassen, managing editor of Dansk Andels, whose engineers devised the new chicken -- a machine made to mass-produce long eggs for catering services, institutional kitchens, and restaurants. "And there's no waste."

He says that companies like SAS Catering, which supplies in-flight meals for Scandinavian Airlines, use up to 2,500 eggs a day and find the long egg a godsend.

The idea for the long egg -- made from the real thing and, of course, tasting the same -- came from Cornell University in the 1960s.

But it was Dansk Andels, which employs about 300 people, that put the long egg on the map several years ago by figuring out how to make them by the dozen. Today, the company has three machines working at its plant in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen. It has sold the license for the machine in Japan and several East and West European countries.

The road from chicken to long egg begins at a machine that breaks normal eggs by the hundred, separating the yolks from the egg whites. The two components are then dumped separately into two huge overhead tanks and allowed to come together again by dripping into stainless-steel tubes end below. There, they are also hard-boiled and, after they cool, are wrapped in foil and packed 10 to a box. Each egg contains about 40 slices.

Last year, Danks Andels, owned cooperatively by 300 egg producers, manufactured and sold more than 220,000 long eggs, half of them in Denmark and the rest outside the country in Frnce, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain. It was the company's best year.

A company official says that Dansk Andels would like to sell long eggs in the US, although freight costs could make that prohibitive.

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