Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The History of Breakfast (with giveaway) By Donna Schlachter

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Breakfast—who doesn’t love the smell of bacon and coffee in the morning? Makes the whole getting up part of the day worthwhile. Of course, not everybody favors this meal, and in some cultures, they don’t even celebrate the sunrise or the new day ahead by digging into a platter of food.

So how, then, did breakfast come about?

Actually, the word “breakfast” didn’t come into common usage until the 1400s, when the term meant breaking the fast. Prior to that, eating food in the morning was called "partaking of the morning meal".
Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels

In Ancient Egypt, bread made from wheat, falafel, fava beans, onion, and other spices comprised their daily meal, usually in the morning, before they went to work. Yes, the peasants ate but once a day.

Later, in Greece, Homer mentions a meal eaten shortly after sunrise, particularly by laborers eager for something light to start their day. Barley bread dipped in wine, sometimes accompanied by figs or olives, fed the body if not the soul. Pancakes of varying recipes, topped with honey, sesame, and cheese, came later.

In Rome, everyday staples like bread, cheese, salad, and meat left from the previous night were consumed, along with wine mixed with honey and spices. At some point, two other meals were added per day.

During the medieval period, breakfast lost favor when the time spent around the table was reduced to twice a day, midday and evening. Children were often the exception, as well as the elderly, the sick, and heavy laborers, who might be granted a morning meal of a piece of bread and a bit of cheese.

By the 1400s, however, meat was now included, and the rich indulged in breakfast, making it a more common practice. By the end of the 1500s, breakfast was now customary, including coffee and tea, which were believed to aid in evacuation of “superfluities”.

Most cultures consume some kind of meal in the mornings nowadays, reflecting the local products available. In Africa, fruit and vegetables in season, along with milk and meat, comprise the meal. In Europe, the croissant originated in Vienna in 1863, and by 1875, had become standard fare in French breakfast.

As with most things, warnings abounded in the early 1500s that breakfast wasn’t healthy since dinner wasn’t yet digested. However, by the latter part of that century, public and medical opinion contended that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

In the United States, waffles were introduced by pilgrims from the Netherlands. Pioneers consumed breakfasts featuring cornmeal-based breads and cereals, cooked in various manners such as corn pone, johnnycakes, and corn dodgers. After the Civil War, ham-and-egg sandwiches were popular but not relegated to the morning meal. The first breakfast sandwich recipe was published in a cookbook in 1897.

Hot and cold cereals have been popular in America since the 1800s, caused by a movement that contended that the consumption of eggs, pancakes, bacon, and coffee was too indulgent. Canned juices became popular in the 1900s after the discovery of vitamins, with orange juice the favorite overall.

Most of the heroines I’ve written about struggled with cooking, usually because they weren’t taught to cook when they were living with their mother. Many of our own breakfast traditions arise from our family experiences, although I’m always game to adopt a new dish, so long as it isn’t too spicy.

Giveaway: leave a comment to enter a random drawing for an ebook copy of “Hollenberg Hearts”, my latest Pony Express release.

About “Hollenberg Hearts”:

Catherine Malloy escapes a poor past in response to a mail order bride ad her best friend answered. However, Margaret dies before meeting the man who owns horses and property in Kansas.

Benjamin Troudt works for the Hollenberg family at their way station in Kansas, and owns nothing but the clothes on his back. Unbeknownst to him, his pastor is corresponding with a potential wife from back East for him.

When Catherine, now calling herself Maggie, arrives, Benjamin knows nothing of the pastor's match-making, and rejects her. However, a seriously ill pregnant woman needs tending. Perhaps Maggie can prove herself useful.

Not only does she do just that, but she finds herself attracted to the very man who is looking for ways to send her away.

About Donna:

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 40 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of several writing communities; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; blogs regularly; and judges in writing contests.

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Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq

Etsy online shop of original artwork: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Dare2DreamUS

Resources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_breakfast


  1. Thanks for the post! It's interesting to find out that breakfast has such a varied history. I was surprised to hear that it once was the only "meal" of the day. I wonder how people who did physical labor carried on that way. I like breakfast, but I'm not fond of cooking first thing in the morning. Since retirement, Hubby has taken that chore as his. Thank goodness! Your book sounds great.

    1. Hi Connie, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I'd skip breakfast, I think, and eat dinner later if I could only eat once a day. Although, my grandfather used to say, "feed a horse before work, and a dog after", meaning a horse wouldn't work on an empty stomach, and a dog wouldn't work (hunt, guard, herd) on a full one.

  2. So fascinating, especially the part about cereal. Advertising genius if you ask me.
    When my husband and I were in the Philippians we realized they didn't have breakfast as we view it. Whatever food was in the house was breakfast. A hotel we stayed at tried very hard to give us an American breakfast but it was a bit different. I loved whatever they served for breakfast. But I was glad to get home and back to my oatmeal.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I prefer not to have spicy food first thing in the day, since I don't think my tastebuds are awake yet. But I've had a hankering for fried chicken occasionally, and hubby will make it for me :)

  3. One of our nephews went to Turkey this summer and enjoyed eating "menemen" for breakfast there. We looked up a recipe for it and have made it several times. DELICIOUS! But we usually have it for supper. :-) It's scrambled eggs with onions, peppers and fresh tomatoes. Then have french bread with it to dip in the juices.

    1. Hi Lisa, ooh, that sounds like my usual breakfast. Eggs, some kind of meat, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. In a scramble. Sometimes over or with hash browns.