Breakfast Through the Years

Breakfast has evolved over the centuries, just like we have

This is one in a series of stories; visit The Daily Meal Special Report: Breakfast in America: What It Is and What It Means for more.

It’s one of the oldest adages in the book: If you want to have a productive day, you need to eat a good breakfast. But this crucial first meal of the day has really evolved over the years, with new innovations and trends transforming breakfast faster than you probably realize. We’re taking a deep dive, discovering how Americans have eaten breakfast since the nation’s founding — and looking back to the morning meal's European roots.

The fundamentals of breakfast haven’t changed too much over the past hundred years or so: Eggs, toast, breakfast meats, hot and cold cereal, juice, milk… Through the decades in America, these have always been the most commonly-eaten breakfast staples, even during periods when fat and cholesterol were being shunned, because nothing will ever change the fact that people like their bacon and eggs for breakfast.

But just like every other aspect of American life, breakfast has been the subject of near-constant innovation, with new products coming onto the scene that have done everything from briefly capturing the zeitgeist to completely revolutionizing breakfast as we know it. And because breakfast is so inextricably linked to our childhood, and so many breakfast products are marketed directly to children, the breakfasts we eat in our youth can leave an impression that lasts a lifetime.

Click here for not only a stroll down memory lane, but for a comprehensive history of breakfast through the eons, assembled with the help of resources including Sherri Lieberman’s American Food by the Decades. Next time you reach for that Greek yogurt, Kind bar, or Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap, don’t forget that those are among the trendiest breakfast foods of the current decade.


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