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February 14, 2024

The World’s Largest Omelet Was Cooked in the World’s Largest Frying Pan in Chehalis, 1931

A huge crowd gathered at Alexander Park in Chehalis, Washington for the Lewis County Farmers and Merchants Picnic, where a giant omelet that took home the title of world’s biggest was cooked in 1931. The best part of the picnic was this priceless photo of Thora Yeager skating across the frying pan with slabs of bacon strapped to her feet, in an effort to grease the frying pan.

Thora Yeager (1907–2006) greasing the giant frying pan with slabs of bacon lashed to her feet, Chehalis, July 24, 1931.

On the morning of July 24, 1931, approximately 10,000 people showed up for the annual picnic in Alexander Park – a record crowd for the summertime event. Festivities started at 11:30 a.m. with an egg-cracking contest. Nineteen women vied to see who could crack a caseload of 30 dozen eggs the fastest, without leaving any shells in the yolk. The winner, Mrs. Al Blair, accomplished the task in 12 minutes.

Egg-cracking contest in Chehalis.

To ready the skillet for cooking, it needed to be greased. To accomplish this, Thora Yeager (1907–2006) attached a giant slab of bacon to each of her feet and skated around the pan. She maintained her balance by using one of the long wooden spatulas that would later be used to stir the eggs.

Yeager’s performance was one of the most photographed events of the day. She smiled for numerous newspaper reporters, as well as for anyone who brought his or her own camera. Universal Studios and Fox Movietone News were also there to film the event for its newsreels.

Her job now complete, Yeager was helped out of the pan, and the heat was raised on the 3,000-brick, open-air stove built to hold it. Attention now turned to the coronation of the queen of the “Principality of Egg Land.” The honors went to Shirley Brown of Winlock, who was crowned by Governor Hartley. Attending Queen Shirley were Ruth Miller (representing “Climate”), Margaret Limmer (representing “People – Patriotic, Intelligent, and Loyal”), Eleanor Sarvela (representing “Co-Operation”),  and Alma Hansen (representing “Fertile Soil”).

Crowd surrounding a woman skating around a giant skillet with slabs of bacon tied to her feet, holding a giant wooden spatula, Chehalis, Washington.

By the time the coronation was over, the pan was hot and it was time to start cooking. The work was performed by L. C. Otter, J. E. Lloyd, and Owen Warring, all chefs from the Northern Pacific Railroad. At one point Governor Hartley donned a chef’s hat and joined in to help stir the mixture. Giant salt and pepper shakers were used to add flavor.

Although the plan was to use 10,000 eggs in the omelet, the pan only held about 7,200 eggs. No one seemed to mind, since the omelet was enormous. When cooking was completed, the crowd was alerted through the use of a new loudspeaker system that had been installed a week before. The thousands who got a helping of the record-breaking dish enjoyed their lunch.

After everyone had gotten their fill of omelet, as well as free coffee, it was time for picnic fun. No speeches were given that afternoon; the picnic promoters just wanted the crowds to either join in on the planned activities or cheer from the sidelines.

Approximately 7,000 dishes of ice cream, 120 US gallons (450 L; 100 imp gal) of coffee, and 4,000 US gallons (15,000 L; 3,300 imp gal) of lemonade were handed out to spectators. After the event, the frying pan was put on temporary display throughout the city, including at the Peacock Theater where movie reels of the record omelet festival filmed by Universal Pictures were also shown.

Other events included a pie-eating contest, a greased-pig contest, a husband-calling contest, a rolling-pin-throwing contest, swimming matches, and various races, including a fat man’s race and a fat woman’s race. One of the more entertaining highlights of the day was the release of the Sperry Flour Company's homing pigeons by Governor Hartley. The six birds circled the park before heading straight to their home in Tacoma. This event became a regular feature of the annual picnic.


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