Food For Thought

the history of breakfast

Breakfast is a daily part of life for many Americans. Some people hold it in such high regard that it has taken on the moniker of “most important meal of the day.” Have you ever wondered where exactly that phrase came from? The truth is that breakfast as people know it today is a fairly recent invention, and people did not always begin their mornings with crispy bacon.

Where Did Breakfast Come From?

Eating a meal first thing in the morning has not always been a custom. From the ancient Romans to the Middle Ages, people would not eat until the afternoon. In fact, the Romans believed it was more prudent to only eat one large meal a day around noon. Going into the Middle Ages, people largely shunned eating in the morning because it was viewed as being gluttonous and therefore sinful.

The roots of the modern conception of breakfast go back to the Industrial Revolution. During this time, more people were entering the workforce and putting in a hard day’s work. They needed to eat something to start working early in the morning, so having a meal right after waking up quickly caught on as a societal norm.

Why Is It the Most Important Meal of the Day?

There is an ongoing debate about whether breakfast truly is important. For some insight into this debate, it is important to understand that slogan’s roots. It actually comes from Kellogg’s, a major manufacturer of most breakfast cereals. The first corn flakes were invented by John Harvey Kellogg, who wanted to create a healthy breakfast alternative for American families. In the early 20th century, the company ran a marketing campaign which promoted the phrase, “Eat a Good Breakfast. Do a Better Job.” It caught on like wildfire.

In fact, breakfast cereals continued to expand as a regular part of people’s breakfasts during World War II. During the war, common breakfast foods had to be rationed or done without. That included pork and eggs. Cereals became an easy substitution with little preparation; just add milk! This became simpler for parents trying to feed their families than cooking eggs and meat.

Where Is Breakfast’s Reputation Today?

Who could have guessed that something as simple as eating food in the morning would become so political? Some experts claim that breakfast is absolutely necessary to be healthy while others say that its importance is overstated. Ultimately, if you want to eat something in the morning, then you should do it. You have plenty of delicious options to choose from, including:

  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Sausage
  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • English muffins
  • Toast
  • Donuts

This is only taking into account American culture. Today, many Americans seem to be in a rush with breakfast, which would explain the growing popularity of breakfast bars you can eat while you drive. Many countries, such as Iceland, treat breakfast with a certain reverence. They take their time and eat their breakfasts at home. Something that began as a simple marketing campaign has grown into a way of life for many individuals all over the world.

What Should You Eat for Breakfast?

While you may be in a rush to get to work on most days, it is important to take a step back once in a while and enjoy a full, hearty breakfast. Something with both fiber and protein, such as an egg and bacon sandwich on a whole wheat muffin can keep you full until lunch. This helps avoid too much snacking between meals or overeating at lunchtime.