Which came first? The chicken or the egg? OK… we’re not going to answer that question for the ages today. In fact, we’re going to ignore the chicken altogether and focus on the egg.

Sometimes, on hot summer days, the rays of the sun beat down with such force that it seems hard to breathe. If you’ve ever walked home from the local swimming pool on an afternoon during a heat wave, you’ve probably noticed that the sidewalk soaks up the heat and feels like it might fry your feet.

You might also hear people say, “It’s so hot outside that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Is that true? Could you really turn your sidewalk into a frying pan?

Children and adults have put this idea to the test for decades. Some people are so fascinated by the idea that they have annual contests. For example, the city of Oatman, Arizona, has a Solar Egg Frying Contest every 4th of July.

Unfortunately, very few people have successfully cooked an egg on a sidewalk without some extra help. The next time a heat wave hits your area, grab an egg and get cracking. There’s nothing like testing out an idea firsthand.

According to the American Egg Board, eggs need to be heated to a temperature between 144° F and 158° F to be cooked. That’s why sidewalks don’t make such great frying pans.

Although sidewalks get plenty hot during a heat wave, they don’t usually get above 140° F. They also conduct heat poorly. That means they soak up the heat, but they don’t distribute it efficiently to other things, such as eggs.

When you crack an egg on a hot sidewalk, the egg will cool the sidewalk slightly. Without another heat source present, the sidewalk is unlikely to cook the egg much, if at all.

If you really want to fry an egg outside on a hot day, you might have better luck with the hood of a car. Metal conducts heat better and gets much hotter. However, we wouldn’t recommend turning someone’s car into a frying pan for an egg!

You could also try the sidewalk… but with a little help. Using an aluminum frying pan or some aluminum foil will help conduct the heat from the sidewalk to the egg.

Unfortunately, you’ll also likely need to use something else, such as a mirror or a magnifying glass, to intensify the sun’s rays to get your egg fully cooked. In case you’re wondering, the judges of the Solar Egg Frying Contest in Oatman, Arizona, do allow contestants to use extra help like these options.

If you do manage to cook an egg on the sidewalk, don’t eat it! You don’t want sidewalk germs or an egg with sidewalk dirt in it. Feel free to experiment in the name of science, but do all your real cooking in the kitchen!

 

32 Join the Discussion

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  1. why would anyone want to try to fry an egg on the side of street in new york city.also did you or did you not delete my comment hi Mrs.Holt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SO HI

    • Hi, Sadie! Some people like to experiment with food and the weather, and this experiment sure looks like fun combination of both! We think we’re going to try it out the next time there’s a heat wave in Wonderopolis! :-)

        • Hi Ryan! Just clean the car off a bit first! We’d love to see that happen though! Can’t wait to WONDER more with you! Thanks for WONDERing! :)

  2. Why would anyone do that? I sure wouldn’t eat anything off of the sidewalk because of people’s nasty shoes.

    • Hi, Anastasia! We don’t think the people who try to cook eggs on the sidewalk or street would actually try to eat them (at least we hope they wouldn’t, as that would be less than appetizing!). We think they’re just trying to prove if it can really be done. Thank you so much for commenting today! :-)

  3. I’ll bet we could fry an egg on the sidewalk in the winter even.our summers average119+so we could definately fry an egg in the summer

    • Wow, Tina! That is really hot! Let us know if you try to “crack open” this experiment…we’d love to know if you can cook an egg on the sidewalk where you live!

      Thanks for your comment and for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • You just might be right, Tannen! The hot temperatures sure have been excessive for many folks around the US this summer. Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis and for leaving us a comment! :-)

  4. This is a really Interesting question! I guess if you did it while it was around 120+ degrees, you could put the egg on an aluminum foil pan and put mirrors pointing at the egg on each side of the pan it could work.

    • Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis, Jessie! Your idea sounds like it might work! Does it get that hot where you live? :-)

  5. We like that the article told us that you can’t really cook an egg on the sidewalk. We like that you gave us a lot of information, and then you actually proved it.

    We have heard that phrase before when it was really hot out. Now we know not to try it. It will waste an egg!

    We want to know more about the contest. How many people got the egg to fry? How did they do it?

    • What a nice thing to say, Libby! We love all of our Wonder Friends, and really like getting comments from them. THANK YOU for leaving us this comment today! :-)

    • We appreciate your enthusiasm for Wonderopolis, Mahima! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! Thank you for letting us know that you enjoyed exploring this Wonder of the Day®! Have you ever tried to cook an egg on the sidewalk? :-)

    • Hi, Rithik! To make the smiley faces, you put a “:” (colon), a “-” (small dash) and a “)” (ending parenthesis) together without any spaces.

      So, : + – + ) = :-) !

    • Great point, Tyler! We think if we tried it on our own, we would use a piece of foil, so we could eat the egg if it cooked! :-)

    • We hope you’ll try cooking an egg on the sidewalk for yourself, Audrey! We think it would be an egg-tastic experiment! Depending on where you live, you might have to walk until the summer to try it out! Thanks for telling us how much you enjoyed WONDERing with us today! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you really cook an egg on the sidewalk?
  • How hot do eggs have to be to cook?
  • Are sidewalks good conductors of heat?

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Try It Out

Ready for some eggs-cellent family fun? First, try out one or more of these egg recipes that don’t require a sidewalk!

As soon as you empty your egg carton, turn the egg carton lid into a fantastic egg carton glider!

 

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Visit Science NetLinks’ An Egg Is Quiet lesson to learn more about eggs and how to observe and describe changes in a variety of simple activities involving eggs.

 

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