Taking Inventory: Egg

Only Yolking

Happy Easter! It’s the time of the year when some people commemorate the resurrection of Jesus and others commemorate the eating of chocolate eggs. Neither exists in Minecraft, so we picked regular eggs for our item of the week instead. Close enough, right?

Eggs were added to Minecraft in Alpha version 1.0.14, released in July 2010. They appeared in the same patch as chickens, so there’s no firm answer to the question of which came first. Following a request from a fan who promised to eat a USB stick if egg-throwing was added to the game, they became throwable in Beta version 1.0. Unfortunately, there’s no record of what happened to the requester. Don’t eat USB sticks, kids.

Minecraft eggs can be obtained the same way that they’re obtained in real life – hang around a chicken long enough, and one will eventually pop out. Long enough, in the world of Minecraft, means five to ten minutes or so. It takes rather longer in the real world. Both in Minecraft and real life again, you might occasionally also find one in a chest.

Eggs (in Minecraft) are good for two things – crafting and throwing. They can be used to craft cake and pumpkin pie, both of which are absolutely delicious. Hurling an egg at a mob is a bit like throwing a snowball at them – it’ll inflict knockback but no damage. You can also fire eggs out of dispensers, if you so desire.

When thrown, there’s a one-in-eight chance that the broken egg will spawn a baby chicken, and a much smaller chance that it’ll spawn FOUR baby chickens. That means that if you fill your inventory absolutely full of eggs and throw every single one of them, you’ll end up with about 81 chickens. Hope you’ve got somewhere for them to live!

In the real world, eggs are extremely popular. Almost every species of animal lays eggs, with the notable exceptions of mammals and scorpions (who both give birth to live young). They range in size dramatically – the whale shark’s 30 cm × 14 cm × 9 cm egg is the largest, and the eggs of Zenillia pullata, a type of parasitic fly, are the smallest – measuring just 0.027 by 0.02 mm, and weighing 8 nanograms.

Humans have been eating eggs of all kinds of species for millennia. Chicken eggs, unsurprisingly, are the most popular, but duck and fish eggs are also commonly eaten. In 2009, an estimated 62.1 million metric tons of chicken eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of approximately 6.4 billion hens. That’s a lot of hens.

But here’s an egg fact you probably didn’t know – eggs are widely used in the production of vaccines. Viruses will happily grow inside a fertilised chicken egg, so it’s a cheap and simple way to incubate enough biological material to create large numbers of vaccines. That means we have eggs to thank for the eradication of major diseases like smallpox and polio.

Thanks, eggs!

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere