Why Is Breakfast Called Breakfast? (Origin & Types)

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Breakfast is typically eaten in the morning before school, work or any other type of activity.

Personally, it is my favorite meal of the day and I always look forward to it (I even dedicated this website to breakfast!).

But have you ever wondered why breakfast is called breakfast?

The word “breakfast” is actually a combination of two words – “break” and “fast.” When you break your fast, you are eating after not having eaten for a period of time. The word “breakfast” made its first appearance in the English language in the 15th century.

So now you know why breakfast is called breakfast, let’s go ahead and take a closer look at the origin of this meal and what types of breakfast are out there!

The Origin Of The Word Breakfast

The word breakfast is thought to come from the Old English word “Morgenmete”, where “morgen” stands for “morning” and “mete” stands for “meal”.

The word breakfast first appeared in print in the early 15th century. It was used to describe the first meal of the day, which was typically eaten around 9 or 10 in the morning.

The first meal of the day has been around since ancient times. It is believed that the first breakfast was actually eaten by the Ancient Egyptians.

The Ancient Egyptians typically ate a morning meal that consisted of bread and fruit like dates. This meal was eaten when they woke up and before they started their day.

The first recorded breakfast in the United States was served in 1620. It consisted of beer and biscuits (sounds like the perfect breakfast to me! Can we reintroduce that one please?).

Is Breakfast An American Thing?

Even though Americans do love their breakfast foods and probably has the largest amount of breakfast restaurants in the entire world, breakfast is not a typical American thing.

In fact, breakfast is eaten all over the world and each culture has their own unique twist to it.

American breakfast however tends to be more heavier than other types of breakfast.

A typical American breakfast consist of eggs, bacon, toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or cereal.

Some even argue that the average American breakfast classifies as more of a dessert than a breakfast due to the high sugar content in many of the foods!

Cereal for example is typically American and also one of the most popular breakfast foods in America but generally contains a lot of sugar and may not be the best choice for a day-to-day breakfast.

A lot of times people are so rushed in the morning that they don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a well-balanced breakfast.

They may grab a breakfast sandwich or something similar on their way to work or school.

This is also where breakfast cereals tend to come in because they are quick and easy to eat on the go.

Types Of Breakfast

As I mentioned before, there are many different types of breakfast foods from all over the world.

In each country you visit, you will most likely be able to find something that is a typical breakfast dish that the locals tend to eat.

A few of the most popular types of breakfast include:

Continental Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in hotels all around the world and consists of pastries, fruits, juices, and coffee.

It is a very basic but common type of breakfast that generally appeals to a broad audience.

It can also be served under the name “complimentary breakfast” which means that the breakfast is included in the price of your hotel room.

A typical continental breakfast

Full Breakfast

A full breakfast is a more substantial type of breakfast that includes eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or cereal.

It consists of many different items and offers a variety of both hot and cold dishes.

Buffet Breakfast

A buffet breakfast is typically served in restaurants and allows you to choose from a variety of different breakfast foods.

From breads and pastries to eggs and bacon, there is usually something for everyone at a buffet breakfast. You will also typically be able to find a variety of fresh fruits and diary products.

Example of a buffet breakfast

American Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in the United States and consists of eggs, bacon, toast, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or cereal.

There are many different variations of the American breakfast, but these are some of the most common items.

Full English Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in the United Kingdom and consists of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and beans.

Even though it is a typical English breakfast, it can often be found offered by hotels all around the world due to its popularity with many travellers.

A typical Full English breakfast

Spanish Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in Spain and consists of bread with olive oil and salt. It can also be served with a variety of different toppings such as cheese, ham, or tomato.

Japanese Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in Japan and consists of rice, miso soup, and fish. It is typically a very light breakfast. Bread is not typically eaten for breakfast in Japan.

Japanese breakfast with salmon

French Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in France and consists of croissants, baguettes, or other types of bread. It can also be served with jams, honey, cheese, or ham.

Indian Breakfast

This type of breakfast is typically served in India and consists of flatbreads, yogurt, and vegetables. Depending on the region, the type of bread and toppings may vary. In southern India, for example, dosa (a type of pancake made from rice and lentils) is popular.

In the northern part of India, roti (a type of flatbread made from wheat) is more common.

Example of an Indian breakfast

Other Questions You May Have

What was breakfast like in medieval Europe?

In the middle ages, breakfast was typically a light meal of cold meat, bread, and a cup of small beer or wine. The wealthy may have had access to fresh fruit or honey. For most people, the midday meal (what we now refer to as ‘”lunch”) was the main meal of the day.

When did the idea of breakfast as the first meal of the day emerge?

The concept of breakfast as the first meal after waking up developed in Western Europe in the 16th century. Before this, the evening meal was typically the largest meal and the last meal would be consumed in the middle of the night or first thing very early in the morning. 

It was only in the late 16th/early 17th century that the morning meal became established as “breakfast.”

What impact did the Industrial Revolution have on breakfast?

The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th/early 19th century drastically changed daily routines and work schedules. People were waking up earlier to travel to factories and offices. Breakfast soon became the most important meal of the day as it helped increase energy levels for the day to come.

New mass-produced breakfast foods like corn flakes helped make breakfast more convenient.

Who popularized cereal and other American breakfast foods?

In the late 19th century, John Harvey Kellogg and cereal companies promoted the benefits of a hearty breakfast featuring whole grains. Kellogs Corn Flakes and other cereals became increasingly popular among the middle classes. In the 1920’s, bacon and eggs gained popularity through Edward Bernays. 

When did orange juice become a popular breakfast item?

Orange juice rose to popularity as a breakfast drink in North America in the early 20th century. Technological innovations allowed for large-scale orange processing and marketing of orange juice as a healthy way to start the day. 

What is the difference between breakfast and brunch?

Breakfast is generally considered the first meal of the day, while brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch served later in the morning or early afternoon. The concept of brunch originated in late 19th century British high society.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it!

That is everything you need to know about breakfast and why it is called breakfast: it literally means to break your fast!

Whether you are looking for a hearty meal to start your day or a lighter option, there is definitely a breakfast out there for you.

Try out some of the different types of breakfast from all over the world and let me know which one is your favorite.

Don’t forget to enjoy a delicious breakfast tomorrow morning!

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