MMA fighter Matthew Mark Murray gags for several seconds — he can barely get the raw egg down. In the end, he pulls through, swallows and grimaces. “Who the fuck would do that?” he asks the camera.
Lots of people it turns out. The #RawEggChallenge is one of the more disgusting dares on Instagram, yet a small but dedicated battalion of dudes (mostly) are keeping it going anyway. Their goal: Chug raw eggs. Don’t throw up. Tag their friends. It’s not always pretty.
“It didn’t look appealing the way I did it,” Murray tells me. Still, he’s proud he did. “I’m willing to bet about seven or eight people tried it but were too embarrassed” to post their videos, he adds.
Like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast eating dozens of eggs to help him get large, many people believe downing a raw one is a quick and easy protein injection. (It’s not; we’ll get to that later.) That said, the #RawEggChallenge doesn’t appear to have anything to do with nutrition. “The challenge started in a random Facebook group,” Thyson Howyang explains. Howyang was challenged by a friend to chug a raw egg, and he decided to complete the challenge in a bar, which he says is a bad idea.
“After drinking beer, you’ll burp, and when you burp [after chugging a raw egg], the raw-egg taste stays in your mouth, and it’s disgusting.” While Howyang could’ve saved his friends from a similar fate, he kept the challenge going by daring two more friends to do the same.
There don’t seem to be any consequences to not chugging the egg, nor does there appear to be any charity or awareness tied to the challenge. Beyond their friends tagging them to do it, or because they “saw Rocky do it,” the egg chuggers I talked to noted they just sort of “did it,” without any real reason.
Egg challenger Ron Jay wasn’t even challenged by a previous #RawEggChallenge contender. He just chugged a raw egg and posted the video because he “got sick of having to wait 15 minutes for [his] eggs to boil over. I figured, why not just eat it raw. I’d never had a raw egg before, and after that, I’ll probably never do it again.” Nevertheless, he hashtagged #RawEggChallenge and went to town.
What’s it like? Murray describes the raw eggs as “mucus with a cell around it,” but he’s quick to add that he didn’t vomit — raw eggs are a regular part of his diet, he says. He even eats the shell; he “read about it in one of Bruce Lee’s books on smoothies.”
“[The egg’s shell] is a great source of calcium,” he says. “I only do it a few times a year when coming back in to training. Or when I have been doing a lot of bone-conditioning exercises.”
Ron Jay calls the raw egg “honestly just as I imagined it would be: pretty gross and filmy-feeling.” He adds that he “didn’t feel too bad after, but certainly got ample protein.”
Howyang’s description follows a similar pattern: “[It’s] like spit, a large amount of spit. It’s slippery on your tongue and doesn’t taste good.” He warns future egg challengers to “not break the egg yolk on your tongue. If you do, you’ll vomit.” Or, at least in his case, you’ll “feel like vomiting for a while after.”
Here we should quickly debunk a few myths about eating raw eggs. If you’re like these guys and saw Rocky take an egg shot for protein, you should know there are better ways to get your fix. For one, try cooking it. “The absorption of egg protein is actually much greater in cooked eggs compared to raw eggs (availability of egg protein is 91 percent in cooked eggs and only 50 percent in raw eggs),” Abbey Sharp, a registered dietitian, explains. “Theoretically, then, two raw eggs equates to one cooked egg in protein bioavailability.”
Plus, Sharp continues, “chugging a bunch of raw eggs can increase your risk of salmonella, while cooking eggs can significantly prevent food-borne illnesses.”
Our raw-egg challengers didn’t really consider this when they posted their videos. “It didn’t cross my mind that I could get salmonella poisoning,” says Jay. “I just kind of cracked the egg and sent it.”
The same goes for Murray, though he’s a little more conscious of the dangers. “I’m not afraid of salmonella, especially when it’s out of a fresh egg, because at least once a week I drink apple cider vinegar mixture,” he says. Apple cider vinegar is a common home remedy for food poisoning; it kills bacteria in the gastrointestinal lining.
“What’s salmonella?” Howyang asks.
Regardless, Sharp is pretty steadfast in the risk vs. reward of raw eggs. “I believe that cooking the eggs to prevent food-borne illnesses far outweigh any of the benefits of getting a few more milligrams of nutrients and minerals.”