'Tis the season for the sweltering Southern sun.
You’ve heard it, and you’ve likely said it too: “It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Southern summers are notorious for high temperatures. Hundred degree days aren’t unheard of down here. You wouldn’t dare walk around outside without wearing shoes—it’s that hot. But could you actually fry an egg on the sidewalk? Is it that hot? Is it even possible?
According to the Library of Congress, it’s possible, but not probable, that you could fry an egg on a sidewalk during a hot day. Eggs need to reach a temperature of 158*F to cook through. Sidewalks can usually get up to 145*F. The hotter the day, the more likely your egg will fry. Using a good heat conductor (i.e. a frying pan) is also important. A concrete sidewalk isn’t the best conductor of heat. Neither is blacktop pavement, but it will get warmer than the sidewalk. Even hotter still is the hood of a car, which is more akin to a frying pan than pavement or concrete. (Though attempting to cook an egg on your car may ruin your paint job.)
The sidewalk-egg adage has become an enduring saying in the South and beyond. Oatman, Arizona, even holds a Solar Egg Frying Contest every year in a nod to the platitude and the heat. Egg-frying contestants don’t have to rely on the sidewalk alone, though. They can use mirrors and magnifying glasses to increase the odds of frying their eggs. (Get a play-by-play of the competition here.)
For foolproof eggs, you should spare your sidewalk and move things into the kitchen. We’d recommend whipping up some of our favorite eggy recipes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Your stove is much more reliable than the sidewalk, and a frying pan is your best tool for success.
Our sidewalks may not quite get hot enough to fry an egg, but our Southern summers sure do swelter.