Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

28 May

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is smoking a cigarette with a satisfied smile on its face. The egg is frowning, irritated. The egg mutters, “Well, I guess we answered THAT question!”

And so we resolve the age-old chicken and egg paradox, and at the same time begin to understand the derivation of the term, “Go suck an egg.”

What remains unresolved is an important question I recently pondered while making egg salad: “Why does mixing mayonnaise with eggs make it a ‘salad’?”

And more importantly, why in all my years of eating eggs have I never encountered an egg that when cracked open produces a baby chick?

I ran this conundrum by my friend, Cindy, who once worked in an egg factory and learned a lot about eggs, including the fact that she would never eat one again. (Trust me, you don’t want to know).

She explained that the eggs we buy at the grocery store, unlike farm eggs, are unfertilized. “Egg factory farms are like chicken convents,” she explained. “No cocks may enter.”

Since Cindy was unable to tell me more about factory eggs without gagging, I did some research on my own and learned the fascinating fact that all birds can lay unfertilized eggs. In the wild they don’t because of the drive to mate. And, because wild hens don’t get headaches . . .

The laying of unfertilized eggs is simply a way of disposing the unused egg from the bird’s body much in the same way a woman’s body releases eggs during ovulation (that once a month period when some women actually want to have sex with their husbands).

The domesticated chicken and duck are unlike other birds in that they will lay an egg almost daily. This is a behavior that has been selectively bred into the domesticated species for hundreds of years through the daily removal of eggs in order to sustain iHop’s 3-egg Breakfast Sampler.

If no one collects the eggs of a chicken or duck, the bird will stop laying eggs and try to hatch the eggs it already has. This is true for all chickens and ducks worldwide, except those living on the Duggar family farm.

With the chicken/egg and fertilized/unfertilized egg questions answered, we are still left with one unanswered question:

Why do they call it egg salad?

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32 Responses to “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?”

  1. cindyricksgers May 28, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Very funny stuff! Very timely, too…egg salad on Memorial Day. Thank you!

  2. writerwendyreid May 28, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Having worked in a pet shop for 2 years, I knew about the birds capability to lay eggs without a rooster already. I AM curious to know what is so gross about eggs that would make me stop eating them. I have cut a lot of things out of my diet but I eat a half boiled egg daily. If there is something in them that is harmful, I’m curious as to what that is. 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

      There was nothing inherently wrong with the eggs. My friend found the whole production process off-putting and stopped eating chicken too. I, on the other hand, eat chicken and eggs. And like you, I love boiled eggs. 🙂

      • writerwendyreid May 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

        Every day for lunch I eat a salad, which includes 1/2 tin of tuna and 1/2 boiled egg. That is my protein because I don’t eat meat anymore (only fish). 🙂

  3. Carl D'Agostino May 28, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Which came first ? The liar or the politician ?

  4. Huffygirl May 28, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Lisa, now that you’ve raised the puzzling conundrum of why mixing mayonaise with eggs (or for that matter with anything) qualifies it as salad, I will not be able to rest until I know the answer. Actually, perhaps this will answer it: https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+salad&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGHP_en
    I do know that when we visited Ireland, any conglomeration of chopped up stuff mixed with anything resembling dressing was called salad. And it never was what we eexpected to be salad. so perhaps you have answered th puzzle once and for all.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      Just like Frutti di Mare wasn’t the fruit salad I expected in Italy! Who knew it would include tentacles? Thanks for the insightful reply!

  5. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer May 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Would you be happier if the egg salad contained a speck of a salad-ish ingredient? I suggest cutting and adding few tiny specs of scallions, and maybe that will make it a bona fide salad.

  6. crubin May 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Humor with a little animal husbandry education. I like it!

  7. nursemommylaughs May 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    “Wild hens don’t get headaches…” I’m sure that’s how they got that reputation! Soooo funny, Lisa! Loved it, loved it, loved IT! Never will look at egg salad the same way.

  8. earthriderjudyberman May 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Egg-zackly. Not having a rooster has one advantage for those who wish to have a small egg farm. They won’t have to worry about being woken up by his loud crowing when the sun rises.

  9. Perfecting Motherhood May 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Great follow-up to your baking a chicken post! And I guess a “salad” can technically be just a couple of food ingredients mixed together. When my youngest was not even 3 and I told him I was making fruit salad, he was shocked. No, don’t put salad in the fruit! For him, salad is lettuce, so yeah, that would be gross!

  10. thelaughingmom May 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    For some reason mayonnaise is called salad dressing, perhaps that’s the tie-in. My daughter keeps begging for a little sister. Wondering if I can line up a surrogate hen because this chicken dropped her last egg a decade ago.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

      I hear you! There’ll be no more chicks in my house. In another year my oldest will fly the coop!

  11. Paprika Furstenburg May 29, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Very hard hitting (and funny) philosophical questions, Lisa. What about deviled eggs? No pitchfork? No horns? How disappointing.

  12. sportsattitudes May 29, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I can see by some of the comments left you are being egged-on to produce a follow-up that will truly crack your question wide-open. (That cartoon is a classic…)

  13. mj monaghan May 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Important take-away: Always have the three egg sampler at IHOP. Don’t want all those eggs piling up.

  14. Jennifer Worrell June 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I saw a recipe for putting mayo in chocolate cake–could the same rule apply for cake? If so, then cake is a salad, and we should all dig in!!! Hysterical post! Loved the joke!!!!

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 3, 2012 at 8:12 am #

      And according to you logic, if it’s a salad than it should be lo cal!
      Thanks for the positive feedback, Jennifer, glad you enjoyed the piece!

      • Jennifer Worrell June 3, 2012 at 8:33 am #

        Great!!! I did:)

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