"It’s so hot,” runs the expression, “that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk!” New York City has plenty of sidewalks. Is it ever possible to fry an egg on one?
A temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit would help. Some reflective materials would also help. Practically speaking, however, the expression is not to be taken literally.
“Hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement” is cited in print from 1881.
How To Fry an Egg on the Sidewalk
Updated April 21, 2008 by blairfell
It’s hot. You’re hungry. You’ve got nothing better to do. Why not fry an egg on the sidewalk!
You Will Need
A mirror or magnifying glass
A very, very hot sidewalk
Butter or oil (optional)
Salt and pepper (optional)
Step 1: Be ready to fib
The temperature of the sidewalk needs to reach at least 158° Fahrenheit to turn a raw egg solid. Sorry, a light colored sidewalk on it’s own won’t do the trick. You’ll need to cheat just a little. (...)
Oatman (AZ) Sidewalk Egg Frying Contest
Oatman Sidewalk Egg Frying Contest! Egg frying contest is held July 4th at high noon on the downtown streets of Oatman, AZ. along old Route 66. There are also Old West gun fights, wild burros roaming the streets, food, entertainment and more. Note: Only solar heat may be used to fry the eggs, and there is a 15 minute time limit.
11 August 1881, Alton (IL) Daily Northwestern, pg. 1, col. 2:
“It may be hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement, or freeze apples in a blast furnace, and it’s all the same here.”
23 May 1883, Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, pg. 3, col. 2:
If you have seen it hot enough to fry eggs on a stone sidewalk, he has seen an ax melt on top of a lump of ice.
11 July 1885, Lowell (MA) Sun, pg. 1, col. 1:
They are willing to let the hereafter take care of itself during the hot weather, and are satisfied that the stories of saints and holy things can be postponed until next fall, but they demand a regular and uninterrupted report of the murders, suicides, divorces, robberies, scandals, marriages, etc., whether it is hot enough to cook eggs on the sidewalk or cold enough to freeze a lover on a garden gate.
20 October 1895, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, part 3, pg. 28:
Finally, on the third day, as the comet gets nearer and nearer, the thermometer will rise to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, men will fry eggs on the sidewalk and immediately expire, and everybody will die from suffocation before 10 A. M.
4 September 1898, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, pg. 37:
Then there’s Porto Rico. What do we want of Porto Rico? Ain’t nothing there but black people and blacker molasses, and I understand it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalks.
Fighting in Cuban Water
Or, Under Schley on the Brooklyn
By Edward Stratemeyer
Boston, MA: Lee and Shepard Publishers
“Any kind of work would be hot,” said Walter, laughingly. “Why, I think a fellow could cook eggs on deck.”
2 August 1900, Bismarck (ND) Daily Tribune, pg. 1, col. 6:
It was hot enough to boil eggs on the sidewalk anywhere in the city.
1 August 1901, Mills County Tribune (Glenwood, Iowa), pg. 6, col. 2:
Lay an egg on the sidewalk today and in two hours it would be cooked—soft or hard, “stright up” or “turned over” as you like.
6 August 1902, Hartford (KY) Herald, pg. 1, col. 7:
“Yes, this is kind of warm, but you’d ought to have been with me at New Orleans one day last July. Why, they fried eggs on the sidewalk, and before the barkeeper could get the cracked ice into your julep it was dissolved in steam.”
The Guest of Honor
By William Hodge
Boston, MA: Chapple Publishing Company, Ltd.
The stone steps, which the scorching sun had made hot enough to fry an egg on, seemed like cushioned chairs to him.
By George Fitch
Boston, MA: Little, brown, and Company
It’s hot — not hot enough to ignite the woodwork, but plenty warm enough to fry eggs on the sidewalks — and the whole town is out on the porches and lawns chasing a breeze, except the band.
9 August 1921, Baltimore (MD) Sun, pg. 6:
Egg Fried on Sidewalk Is Freak
Of Heated Spell.
From the Chicago Journal.
The recent superheated days brought many freak episodes and dpoings. None was more amusing than the frying of an egg on the siodewalk by Policeman Patrick Durkin.
The policeman, who is stationed in the Loop, broke the egg and dropped the contents on a flagstone in the pavement. A crowd gathered to watch him.
“Sunny side up?” he asked with a smile. In a few minutes the egg was sufficiently cooked to eat—if anyone had wanted to eat it.
Hot Enough to Fry an Egg? Contestants Find Out
All Things Considered, July 4, 2006 · Michele talks with Fred Eck, founder of the yearly Solar Egg Frying Contest in Oatman, Ariz. He’ll give us the play by play during this year’s competition, which is the 16th annual event.
Hot enough to try to fry an egg?
Posted Aug 6th 2006 10:01AM by Nicole Weston
We saw a woman try to bake cookies in her car, with good success, yesterday. But the gold standard of “natural” cooking would be frying an egg on the sidewalk, though car engine cooking might be a close second. Many people say that this method works.
Egg whites coagulate between 144 and 149F and yolks need an even higher temperature, so the sidewalk would have to retain a significant amount of heat for the experiment to work. Black asphalt can be 10 degrees hotter than lighter pavement, so you may want to work in the street, to increase your odds of success.
There are any number of people who have attempted to fry an egg on the sidewalk, but the problem is that many people live in places where it doesn’t get all that hot. The Alberta Egg Board says that the experiment will work when the temperature is over 35C/95F, but I couldn’t find any evidence of that working for anyone. The two hottest videos I found were this one, where it reached 106F just outside of San Francisco recently, and a video in Arizona, where it was also 106F. Neither worked.
It’s not clear, although there is a reference to it in the Los Angeles Times on October 5, 1933, and even as far back as June 11, 1899, in The Atlanta Constitution--so the idea had captured the American imagination and become one of our common sayings by that time. And what about the other saying, “it’s so hot the chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs?” Well, what do you think?