The movies I watched as a kid seared some valuable nuggets of information into my brain. Every time I eat a banana, I think of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and remember that bananas have potassium. I know that Gremlins, if they were real, should never be fed after midnight. While I likely won’t ever get a perm, thanks to Legally Blonde I remember that if I ever change my mind, I won’t be able to wash my hair immediately. And every time I lift a whisk to make scrambled eggs, I think of the Olsen twins and how they offered a better option.
Billboard Dad, the Olsen twins’ direct-to-video 1998 movie, opens with Emily Tyler, played by Ashley Olsen, rollerblading home from Venice Beach with her surfboard in hand. She’s greeted by her sister, Tess, played by Mary-Kate, who is cracking an egg and asks if she’s seen the whisk. “We lost the whisk?” Emily teases. “How can we go on?” Tess tells her matter-of-factly that whisks are “what all the great chefs use” because forks “bruise” the eggs. (Counterpoint: Use a fork, not a whisk to scramble eggs, says Food & Wine.)
To this, Emily demonstrates what we’d now call a “life hack.” She pours the eggs into a large resealable bag and shakes them around with a little song and dance (“scramble scramble”) until the yolks and whites are nicely combined. Tess follows suit, grabbing the bag and doing a little twirl with it. Indeed, if scrambling eggs can be this fun, why bother with the whisk or the fork?
It’s been at least 23 years since I first saw this scene and yet it sticks like scrambled eggs cooked in a stainless steel pan that hasn’t been prepped properly. And I’m not alone: The scene pops up every so often on social media, including recently in a TikTok from Cosmopolitan with over 737,500 views. It’s captioned: “This Mary-Kate and Ashley Moment Means Everything to My Childhood.” Many commenters, like me, mention that they also think of it every time they make eggs. In another video, someone remakes the scene shot for shot. 2nd Showing, a podcast that “unpacks the formative media” of early 00s youth, discusses the scene in an episode from earlier this year. An E! ranking of the Olsen twins’ best movies puts Billboard Dad at number four and calls out the egg scene specifically.
Of course, it wasn’t just the egg scene that stood out to me in Billboard Dad — the premise of which is that Emily and Tess climb up to a billboard to make an ad to get women to date their sad widower dad. Billboard Dad was probably my introduction to the entire concept of Venice Beach, sowing the seeds of California dreaming for me, a child in suburban Pennsylvania. It made me think about skater culture and teenagers getting tattoos (even though the tattoo that lay central to one of the movie’s subplots turned out to be a lie) and how cool it would be to have a chill sculptor dad and be allowed to skate down to the boardwalk whenever I wanted.
Growing up in the early ’00s, this is what the Olsen twins offered: a sense of freedom and a slightly cooler life. They were the people I wanted to be, and my aspirations grew with every increasingly half-baked movie (this is an Our Lips Are Sealed callout). The egg scene was just the most accessible piece of this fantasy for a while.
For that reason, I have to admit that in all the years since, I’ve never actually made my eggs this way. A whisk, or a fork, is fine. It’s partially that I hate washing Ziploc bags. But I think part of it is also the fact that some memories are best left as just memories. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of revisiting something we loved as kids only to find that it didn’t really hold up to the increased scrutiny of adult eyes. Now, I might think, Is that really the best way to make eggs? I don’t need to emulate Billboard Dad in order to remember how it made me feel as a kid; instead, making eggs can just be an opportunity to briefly tap into that memory of childlike wonder.