Tag Archives: unfertilized eggs

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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