Intriguing Egg Facts and Folklore

Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Eggs

October 9, 2021
Eggs in Carton

To put it simply: There is nothing quite like an egg! Eggs are surrounded by more myths and old wives’ tales than any other everyday food. Here are some surprising facts about eggs.

Intriguing Egg Facts

Opportunities, like eggs, come one at a time.

  • The entire yolk of an egg is actually only one cell, one of nature’s largest. In fact, an ostrich egg, which can serve about 24 for breakfast, is probably the largest cell nature manufactures (currently, that is).
  • The color of the shell is strictly a function of the breed of the bird. You can (usually) tell what color egg a chicken will lay by looking at the color of her earlobe. Hens with white ears produce white eggs, hens with red ears produce brown eggs, and hens with bluish-green ears produce bluish-green eggs! Find out more about different chicken breeds and the eggs they produce.
  • Americans consume an average of 281 eggs per year, which keeps about 285 million hens busy day and night. If you’d like to keep your own hens busy, check out our Raising Chickens blog.
  • An old-fashioned but valid test for egg freshness is accomplished by gently dropping a whole uncooked egg into a salt solution (two tablespoons salt in two cups of water.) If very fresh, the egg will be full and heavy, and it will sink and tip to one side. If moderately fresh, it will remain suspended in the middle of the water in an upright position; if it bobs up to the top, it is stale. Learn how to do this test and see other egg tips in this video.
  • According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on end on the spring equinox (or fall equinox). Let us know if it works for you!
  • Government grades are based on the size of the air cell in the egg, the egg’s quality, and its freshness. A Grade AA egg must be less than ten days old from packing, a Grade A, 30 days. 
  • The whitish, twisted material seen near the raw egg yolk is thick albumen, which is part of a layer of dense egg white surrounding the entire yolk. Its purpose is to help keep the yolk centered in the egg. The albumen is especially prominent in fresh, high-quality eggs.
  • The color of the yolk is determined by the feed. If the chicken eats grass, yellow corn, or other feedstuffs rich in yellow pigments, the yolk will be deep yellow in direct relation to the amount of yellow in the feed, regardless of the breed of chicken or color of the shell.
  • The incubation period of a chicken egg is 21 days. 
  • Shortly after an egg is laid, it is placed in front of a light source that reveals the condition of the innards. This process, called candling, can detect cracks in the shell or harmless but unappetizing blood spots on the yolk. It also reveals the size of the egg’s air cell: the smaller the cell, the better the egg.
  • Old wives’ tales suggest that the shape of an egg indicates the sex of the chick that will hatch from it. Unfortunately, there is no truth to this myth. Scientists are unable to distinguish between the sexes before the eggs hatch.
  • The greenish gray color around the yolk of a hard-boiled egg is a harmless compound of iron and sulfur called ferrous sulfide, which forms when an egg is heated. To prevent its formation, boil the egg only as long as is necessary to set the yolk, and then plunge it into cold water and peel it promptly.
  • While brown, white, and green eggs are essentially the same in nutritional value, there are definite preferences by individuals and by people in different regions of the country.

Now, here’s an age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

No one knows the answer but we’re going to go with the egg. When a mutation or new species is created, it comes from two different parents. Think of how dogs are bred. It’s most likely that two birds who were similar to chickens (but not chickens as we know them today) mated and out came an egg that turned into a chicken! What’s your theory?

Learn even more about eggs and eggshells and their various uses here

Reader Comments

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Proteins like eggs and meats are cooked to help make them more digestible ;That is their nutrients are more readily available to the digestion

Do eggs need to be refrigerated?

Depends! If you buy them commercially in the United States - then they must be refrigerated. If you buy them commercially in Europe then they must NOT be refrigerated. The difference is weather or not the eggs are washed
( Commercially the United States washes the eggs but commercially the Europeans do not ) If you gather farm fresh eggs as long as they are NOT washed they do NOT require refrigeration and will remain fresh for up to a month. Fresh eggs have a coating which preserves the eggs naturally. It is when this coating is washed off that the eggs must be refrigerated.

Standing eggs on end

You can stand an egg on end on any day of the year; I've done it many, many times to show up superstitious types who insist that it only works on the Equinox...


We have successfully stood eggs on their ends during the spring equinox. My kids get a kick out of it every year!!

Like Brown Eggs Best

Brown eggs are richer in flavor imo.

Eggs and cholesterol

I have to worry about ?cholesterol in the eggs since they have 185mg of cholesterol. Why don't anyone mention that fact?

This is not a page about the

The Editors's picture

This is not a page about the health and nutrition of eggs. It is supposed to be fun and informative about things you may not have known about eggs. Hope you enjoyed it.

Times, they are a changin'

I'm guessing this isn't a medical site, however, you may wish to speak to your doctor because new research shows they made a mistake, once again, concerning eggs. Now, it seems certain types of cholesterol is good for the body and eggs, may just be one of them.

Eggs & Cholesterol

You would want to consult with your Dr. of course, however, the latest research would indicate that eggs in moderation, may actually be beneficial. Most of the latest science is indicating that sugar is more of a culprit then anything. Check out the Harvard School of Public Health for some of the most up to date info.

I am allergic to chicken

I am allergic to chicken eggs. Is it possible that i wouldn't be allergic to duck eggs? Or is an egg the same no matter where it comes from?

According to the Institute of

The Editors's picture

According to the Institute of Health, people with allergies to hen’s eggs may cross-react to other types of eggs (like duck and quail eggs). That said, there are people who are allergic to hens' eggs and not sensitive to ducks' eggs -- and people who can't 'tolerate ducks' eggs, but are fine with hens' eggs.

Allergies to chicken/hen’s eggs.

Our son has an allergy to eggs. However, it was discovered that when he ate eggs which were fertilized he did not have an allergic reaction. It seems that that fertilization gets of the egg in some way changes the component which, at least for our son, causes the allergic reaction. This “”fact”was discovered during reading of some periodical by the misses more than 40 years ago. To this date it still holds true for the son. When he buys eggs from a source which can confirm that the eggs have been fertilized that when eaten he does not experience an allergic reaction.

Yes! It it quite possible

Yes! It it quite possible that you would be fine with duck eggs! Somehow they are different, and I know many people who can't not eat chicken eggs, yet can eat duck eggs. It might be worth experimenting!

Maybe give quail eggs a try.

Maybe give quail eggs a try. They are really tasty and they have much less cholesterol than regular chicken eggs.

Like brown the best, there

Like brown the best, there also a pinkish brown eggs, &
blue ones. I see on FB than someone hen lay a egg than have whole egg inside it. I wonder want can of myth we could get started with than! HAHA

I will not eat a brown egg at

I will not eat a brown egg at home.will bake with them and probably have eaten them when eating out.Just a family thing I wouldn't eat them either

I often find a double yolk.

I often find a double yolk. What was the "old wives tale" re a double yolk egg? Wasn't it bad luck to eat an egg with two yolks?

In most of folklore, doulbe

The Editors's picture

In most of folklore, doulbe yolk eggs are considered to be a symbol of good fortune.

Double yoke egg's

This is an old post but just in case others are interested. When chickens are young their egg producing systems haven't got the hang of it yet and they may produce many variations of egg type's. Some may have double yoke's and others may be extremely large or be extraordinarily small.
Many year's ago A trucker that patronised the gas station I worked at brought down from A chicken farm in central Wisconsin cases of egg's that were unsellable because of the odd egg's that their young stock produced. Many of them had double yoke's. 2 dozen free egg's every week! Those were the day's!!!

Brown !!!

Brown !!!

My parents used to raise 47

My parents used to raise 47 different breeds of chickens. My Dad showed them at several county fairs each year (2 hens & 1 rooster per pen). He had very little competition in all 47 different breeds. The premiums were the same for a pig, a sheep, or a cow & the chickens took up less space on the shipping truck, taking them all to the fair. And the chickens didn't need as much feed as the other livestock either.

Just a memory from a former Farm Kid.

We prefer brown eggs, to me

We prefer brown eggs, to me they have a better flavor, we have laying hens

Fresh organic eggs,

Fresh organic eggs, nutritious,
No hormones

I've always preferred brown

I've always preferred brown eggs.