Crazy egg facts you probably didn't know

Eggs are so useful, we sometimes forget how amazing they are. We just crack them into a pan, eat them, and forget them—but that's a mistake! Here are a few crazy things you didn't know about eggs.

Egg-straordinarily good for you

There's a good reason why fitness freaks and fanatics guzzle eggs as part of their daily workout routine, and it's because the protein in eggs is almost as good for growing bodies as a mother's milk. Eggs also contain almost every important nutrient our bodies need, including vitamin D, which isn't found in too many places outside sunshine. Perhaps it shouldn't be altogether surprising though, since an egg contains the chicken equivalent of mother's milk and is intended to nourish a growing feathery body so it can grow up to be a happy and healthy Sunday lunch.

Egg-sperience matters

It takes practice and experience to get really good at something, and that counts for laying eggs too. When you're after that perfect large egg to complete your usual Saturday morning fried egg sandwich, don't make the mistake of looking to the big hens, or the sprightly young things making all the noise, but instead look for experience. Because a chicken isn't born laying large eggs, they usually start out quite small and get bigger as the hen gets older. Eggs vary in size, weighing as little as 1.25 ounces and growing to over 2.5 ounces on occasion. There are always exceptions though: in 2010 a six-month old hen called Harriet laid a world record egg that measured 9.1 inches around the middle, nearly twice the average of 5.5 inches. But fame came at a price for poor Harriet, who was reportedly left limping by the experience.

Vas-egg-tomy not required

It's easy to make analogies between human and chicken reproductive processes and think of every egg as the chicken equivalent of a screaming baby just waiting to get out of the shell, but that's not the case. A chicken will lay an egg whether it has spent a passionate night with a cockerel or not. Modern laying hens can produce over 300 eggs a year without so much as flirting with a boy chicken, which is good news if you're plagued with images of chicks in your frying pan, but bad news for the hens. You'd think they deserve at least a little fun after all that work.

Egg-sclusions apply

No-one does good work when they're tired, and that counts for chickens too. When a chicken is kept awake at night by predators, or otherwise stressed, it can manifest in an egg being laid without a shell. That doesn't mean raw egg all over the nest box, but rather an egg that's contained by just a flexible membrane, making the egg soft and wobbly to touch but otherwise safe to eat. Other causes for shell-less eggs are a lack of calcium in the diet and old age, so it seems chickens can get forgetful too.

Egg-streme eating

In a famous scene of the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, Luke (played by Paul Newman) is bet that he can't eat 50 hard boiled eggs in an hour. Luke accepts the bet, and as you might have guessed, he succeeds, but not without a lot of sweating and pained facial expressions. But step aside Cool Hand Luke, because you ain't got nothin' on Joey "Jaws" Chestnut. According to Major League Eating, the organization that oversees professional eating competitions, in 2013 Chestnut consumed an unbelievable 141 hard boiled eggs in just eight minutes. You can bet he's never late for work in the morning.

Egg-cept no substitutes

We're used to thinking about forgeries in the realm of art and money, but according to Time magazine, there is a growing problem in China with the sale of fake eggs. Made from various ingredients including resins, alginate, starch, and colorants, these fakes are not just intended to look like the real deal from a distance, but also on the inside, with the yolk and white replicated as well. Often the deception doesn't survive long once the egg hits the pan, but by that time the seller is long gone and the buyer left hungry. Unfortunately for Chinese egg lovers, a fake egg costs half as much as a real egg to produce, and with the right equipment a single worker can make up to 1,500 phonies a day. With margins like those, don't expect the Chinese authorities to crack that problem any time soon.

Egg-zemplary hygiene

A major difference between the USA and much of the rest of the world is in its treatment and storage of eggs. Unlike most of the world, it's standard practice in the USA to refrigerate eggs. And this is not just because Americans are paranoid about food hygiene or because they have massive refrigerators, but because government regulation requires producers to power wash all their eggs before sending them to the supermarkets. And while this effectively removes dirt and other contaminants from the shell, it also removes an important coating that is biologically applied as the chicken lays the egg, which naturally seals the shell helping to prevent contamination. A synthetic coating is often applied to make up for this, but the USDA then requires all eggs to be stored in refrigerators at the supermarket anyway, because, you know, just in case.

Egg-cept no substitutes, part two

It's a familiar scene: you're in the kitchen baking a cake and you get to the bit where you add the egg—and you've run out. But according to the Nordic Food Lab, there is now a convenient and effective substitute for eggs: blood. It's true! And gross! Since they share similar protein structures, you can replace your missing egg with 65 grams (2.25 ounces) of blood and achieve similar cooking results. Nordic Food Labs managed to whip up pancakes, chocolate sponge cake, and ice cream, among other things, all with blood instead of eggs. You don't need as much heat or time to achieve the same results, since blood coagulates and sets at lower temperatures. And due to the high iron content of the blood, experimental cooks must take care to overcome the aftertaste. So next time you're baking a cake for someone with egg allergies, or possibly Dracula, you'll know what to do.

An egg-umenical deception

In 1806, an English village was consumed with the belief that the world was about to end, because a chicken had begun to lay eggs with the words "Christ is coming" inscribed on the shell. Unfortunately for the chicken it had not in fact become the messenger of Christ, but the tool of a mischievous local called Mary Bateman who collected fresh eggs and wrote on the shells with acid before shoving them back inside the poor clucker that laid it.

Egg-celent breakfast service

A hangover waits for no-one, and when your head is pounding and your hands are shaking, all you want is eggs—and quick. So if you head to your local diner, and you'd better pray that Howard Helmer is working the grill, because he happens to hold the world record for the most two egg omelettes made in 30 minutes. That's 427 omelettes to be exact, which is one every 4.2 seconds.