While there is lots more to be celebrated on July 4, Sidewalk Egg Frying Day makes it onto our list as well, as we bring you the science behind this rather odd-sounding national holiday. The idea behind the holiday is to be more conscious of the benefits of solar energy, so much so that you can fry an egg using it, though be careful not to get fried by the summer sun yourself. And if you were wondering where the name of this holiday came from, yes, it’s from the popular phrase, ‘it’s so hot I could fry an egg on the sidewalk’. In Oatman, Arizona, this phrase is almost taken literally, as every year on the Fourth of July, a Solar Egg Frying Contest is held where participants compete to fry an egg using solar energy in under 15 minutes, using whatever materials/objects they want (including mirrors and magnifying glasses).
History of Sidewalk Egg Frying Day
Apparently, for the past 100 years or so, people have been trying to successfully fry eggs on pavements. So while fireworks light up the sky in the U.S. on July 4, eggs also litter the pavements, as this wacky holiday continues to be celebrated across the country.
One of the earliest references to the concept of frying an egg on the sidewalk comes from an issue of the “Atlanta Constitution” (1899) where, in a column titled ‘How to Keep Cool,’ Dr. Francis Henry Wade mentions how the “bricks of the sidewalks [are] hot enough to fry eggs.” An article published in the “Los Angeles Times” in October 1933 made this idea more popular, by reporting record-breaking temperatures in one of the L.A. neighborhoods, where people were actively discussing the possibilities of making sun-cooked eggs, given the right equipment.
In 1983, in Oatman. Arizona, Fred Eck founded the annual Solar Egg Frying Contest where participants use homemade contraptions to fry an egg in under 15 minutes. Some overachievers go so far as to prepare bacon and fries too! Other places have also attempted to cook eggs in the sun, with varying levels of success. In 2013, an anonymous YouTube video from Death Valley National Park had people braving 120-degree heat to attempt to fry eggs directly on the rocks. In 2015, in Australia, temperatures reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit and sparked a trend where YouTubers tried to fry eggs on the sidewalks.
Of course, the science behind this is all wrong, since concrete and bricks are not conductors of heat, but the phrase has stuck, and now Sidewalk Egg Frying Day is very much a part and parcel of American pastime culture.
Sidewalk Egg Frying Day timeline
Dr. Francis Henry Wade’s comment about the sidewalk bricks being hot enough to fry an egg sparks a trend.
A picture of actor Pat Rooney Jr. attempting to fry an egg in Times Square shows how trendy the pastime is.
Master French Chef, Fernand Point, develops a method for perfecting the fried egg, at his 3-Michelin starred restaurant, La Pyramide.
Fred Eck, of Oatman, Arizona, hosts the first Solar Egg Frying Contest on July 4.
Sidewalk Egg Frying Day FAQs
Can you fry an egg on the sidewalk?
You can try to, but we wouldn’t recommend it, for hygiene purposes as well as for scientific reasons. The truth is that concrete (which is what most sidewalks are made of) is a bad conductor of heat, therefore if you crack an egg on it, the egg will not cook evenly, and would remain half-cooked at best. You’d be better off using some sort of metal surface, like the hood of a car or tin foil.
How hot does it have to be to cook an egg on a car?
Ideally, 150–160℉ is the temperature range needed to fully cook an egg. For vehicles parked directly in the sun, the cabin temperature can reach up to 116 degrees and the metal body of the car can definitely reach 150 degrees or more, making it suitable for ‘egg-speriments’!
How long does it take to cook an egg on the sidewalk?
It takes about 20 minutes for an egg to cook completely on the sidewalk.
Sidewalk Egg Frying Day Activities
Join in the revelry
Science-schmience! Why not join in the fun yourself, and crack an egg on the pavement, just to see for yourself what happens. It can be a great learning experiment for kids too, to teach them about conductors. Just make sure you slap on some sunscreen and a hat first.
Keep cool instead
If venturing out into the hot summer sun to fry an egg is not your idea of fun, we understand. Why not whip up some eggs in your trusty stovetop skillet instead, and be egg-sperimental by trying a new egg recipe out. You can enjoy your culinary endeavors in the cool comfort of your home, or eat your eggs out by the poolside.
Learn about solar power
The sun is far from our enemy, even if its rays are not great for our skin. Use this opportunity to learn more about the benefits of solar energy, and the ways how it can be harnessed to help make life on our planet more sustainable.
5 Solar-Power Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know
Around the world on solar power
The Super Solar Impulse 2 is the first fully solar-powered plane to fly around the world.
24/7 electricity in space
Solar panels in space generate power 24/7, thanks to the constant stream of sunlight.
Solar energy is the mother energy source
Most of the renewable energy sources are derived from solar energy, making it the source of other sustainable forms.
The future is solar
It has been predicted that by 2050, solar power will be the world’s single largest source of electricity.
Investing in solar energy can save money
Though the initial installment investment may pinch the pocket, it will save you much more money in the long run.
Why We Love Sidewalk Egg Frying Day
It involves eggs
An ingredient that always ‘egg-’cites’ us because of just the sheer number of uses it has in cooking, and not to mention all the health benefits that come with eggs too. Eggs are great, and any reason to use them in celebrations is a win for us!
It’s about solar power
Sidewalk Egg Frying Day is a great way to get people to be more conscious of the sun and solar energy. While there is still much to be learned, we know that finding ways to harness the energy of the sun can lead to a much more sustainable future here on earth, so it’s important to learn more and find ways in which we can usher in such a future.
It’s a great STEM opportunity
STEM refers to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum that is being developed and used in educational institutions across the world. And Sidewalk Egg Frying Day can be a fun and messy way to get children learning about heat, energy, and conduction (and other topics too).
Sidewalk Egg Frying Day dates