The 1967 film Cool Hand Luke helped galvanize Paul Newman’s career as a box office draw. The film tells the story of a man in prison for vandalism who refuses to be a cog in the wheel of the system. At first, he’s at odds with his fellow prisoners, but soon he earns their respect by demonstrating abilities of leadership and albumen-based endurance.
One of these feats of endurance comes when he claims to be able to eat 50 hard-boiled eggs within an hour. This leads to massive betting among the prisoners and guards, making him the focus of the workhouse. Swallowing the final egg with a second to spare, he wins the respect of his peers and becomes a legend not just in the jail but in movie history.
This got us to thinking: we like eggs, and we like eating. Would it be possible for a man to really eat 50 eggs in less than an hour?
The Answer: He sure could… but a woman actually holds the world record for it
Ever since the 4th of July Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest rose to popularity in the early 2000s, the world of competitive eating has gotten even more competitive. Takeru Kobayashi of Japan took the eating world by storm by eating 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes in 2000, besting the previous champion by almost 200 percent. Since this time, competitive eaters have become more prominent in the news, and they have been breaking seemingly impossible records each year.
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas actually holds the world record for eating hard-boiled eggs, according to the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). However, it didn’t take Thomas an entire hour, and she didn’t eat just 50. The 100-pound Thomas ate 65 of those suckers in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Cool Hand Luke only managed about 10 in that amount of time.
For further comparison, Thomas’ short-run record of eating hard-boiled eggs is 15 in one minute, which she performed on The Ricki Lake Show in December of 2012. She hopes to beat her record on October 5, 2013, when she goes up against current hot dog champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in a new egg-eating contest.
As pointed out in Cool Hand Luke, depending on the size of the egg, this amounts to about six pounds of food in the stomach at once (assuming that each egg weighs approximately two ounces, which is close to 50 grams). This weight of food is not uncommon for Thomas, who also holds records for almost more than 7 3/4 pounds of Turducken in 12 minutes, 8 pounds of Vienna sausage in 10 minutes, 8.4 pounds of baked beans in less than 3 minutes, 9 pounds of jambalaya in 10 minutes, 10 pounds of meatballs in 12 minutes, and 11 pounds of cheesecake in 9 minutes.
To put this in perspective, Sonya Thomas could eat an entire newborn baby and have room to spare.
But she’s the only one who could do this, right?
Not at all. Ever since the release of Cool Hand Luke, the goal of eating 50 eggs has been a popular challenge of competitive eaters. In fact, world-record eater Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti claims that the second most common question he gets is whether he can match the movie’s record. (The number one most common question he gets is what his bowel movements are like, of course.) To prove his eating prowess, Bertoletti chugged 50 raw eggs in about ten seconds.
Other notable eaters have performed challenges inspired by Cool Hand Luke, including “Furious” Pete Czerwinski eating 50 eggs in 10 minutes to qualify for Wing Bowl 19 and Takeru Kobayashi eating 32 eggs in one minute.
Still, don’t try this at home.
At-home gastric challenges are nothing new. If you don’t believe me, just search YouTube for “gallon challenge,” and you can watch many a college student try to chug a gallon of milk (often resulting in ivory vomiting). However, these can be dangerous. The egg challenges can be particularly dangerous, especially if consumed raw, with at least one recent case of a man in Tunisia dying after eating 28 raw eggs.
But it’s hardly the health dangers that will put you at risk. Think of the social dangers. What is not shown in Cool Hand Luke are the scenes of the night following the egg challenge. Those guys live in a barracks, with 50 people crammed together in double-decker bunks. The prisoners might have enjoyed watching the challenge, but who could withstand the resulting gastric events as those eggs digest?
After all, if an egg salad sandwich at lunch can cause noxious emissions in the afternoon, who would want to be around you after downing dozens? Seriously.