A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's the purpose of those white squiggles attached to egg yolks?

August 16, 1985

Dear Cecil:

Please identify and state the purpose, if any, of those white squiggles attached to chicken egg yolks. I have either read or been told that they have nothing to do with fertilization. I have been removing them for years because of their appearance and because they are more offensive when found cooked and hard in eggs. Are they found in other types of eggs? Why do some eggs have two?

Dear Myra:

The primary purpose of the squiggles, which are called chalazae, is to give the heebie-jeebies to squeamish gentlepersons such as yourself, and secondarily to keep the yolk from sloshing around inside the egg. Normally there are two chalazae, which connect the yolk to either end of the egg and keep it suspended in the middle. They're found in all types of eggs. Sometimes you only see one or none because they stick to the egg shell rather than the yolk. The chalaza are made of semisolid albumen, basically the same stuff that egg white is made of, and are perfectly harmless. Get a grip.

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