Ever wondered why, when it comes to the most important meal of the day, there are really only a few options available?
Lunch? Whatever you want. Dinner? Whatever you can afford.
But breakfast? This is not ‘Nam, there are rules.
New research shows that the limited assortment of foods which we allow ourselves to consume first up were put there very much by design. And furthermore, there is nothing to suggest that typical breakfast foods do anything better for you during the day than, say, a steak would.
Indeed, the most common breakfast foods – cereals, and bacon and eggs – found their way onto our plates courtesy of different lobbying campaigns ran throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Prior to these campaigns, most people ate leftovers from the night before. So if you woke up today and had a couple of slices of cold pizza, there’s no need to feel guilty.
Cereal was pushed onto our plate by a heavily religious man named John Kellogg – yes, of Kellogg’s fame – who thought that not only does a light meal provide a good start to the day, but that a bland breakfast of cereals and wheat would stave off the evils of masturbation.
This moral campaign was successful across the United States, where people equated eating cereal with being good, hardworking, masturbation-free citizens.
But while this is how cereal gained a hold, the lobbying did not stop there.
In a bid to boost bacon sales in the middle of the 20th century, a public relations firm lobbied doctors to say that a heavy breakfast was healthier than lighter breakfasts based on toast and cereals. Despite no real evidence, 5000 doctors were contacted and asked to sign a pro bacon-and-egg petition.
As reported by The Guardian, this led to bacon and eggs coming back into fashion. Prior to this, eating that particular duo for breakfast was seen as outdated – a product of a time when refrigeration was difficult, cured meats kept better, and people could just collect chicken eggs in the morning.
But now, decades later, we still cling to this same narrow group of foods to kickstart our day.