| The electric pickle is well-known. Nails are pushed into
both ends of a large Kosher dill pickle, and the output of a Variac is
applied to the nails. As the EMF across the pickle increases, the vegetable
starts to glow. Analysis of the light from the pickle shows the presence
of the sodium D line; the pickling process involves soaking cucumbers in
The nineteenth century version is the egg illuminator. This one was made by Ritchie of Boston and is listed at $3.00 in his 1860 catalogue. This bizarre demonstration is in my collection, but I have never had the nerve to try it out. G. W. Francis, in Electrical Experiments (London, 1855) notes that "The eggs, if eaten immediately, will have a strong taste of phosphorous; and will very soon afterwards become putrid, that is to say, in two or three days. When broken, the white and yolk will be found completely intermingled with each other, if several shocks have been passed through the eggs." He also describes the illumination of oranges, which like the eggs, become luminous when the current passes through them.