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The Breakfast-Industrial Complex

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rfl_10250

While I enjoy most standard breakfast foods to various degrees, the American fetish for breakfast is completely out of control. This is especially true for bacon, a vastly overrated meat. But really, the fetish is for the whole experience. There are multiple parts to it. One of course is the bacon thing. The second is idea of eating a big ol’greasy meal that supposedly provides us with joy. The third, and really the most ridiculous, is that not eating breakfast is somehow unhealthy and therefore those of us who don’t eat breakfast are hurting ourselves and should be lectured about it. Personally, I find eating a large meal in the hours after waking up repulsive. Perhaps a yogurt or an egg, maybe a bagel if I am feeling indulgent, but that’s it until at least noon if not 2. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m doing it right. It just means that I’ve figured out the combination of how much I can eat to maintain my weight and enjoying own aesthetic preferences. There are however days, when I’ve had a large meal for dinner, that I don’t take in a single calorie until 4 or so. The point is that you have to read your own body and act accordingly. At least now those of us who eschew breakfast have some hard evidence that the breakfast-industrial complex is behind our demonization.

It does not take much of an effort to find research that shows an association between skipping breakfast and poor health. A 2013 study published in the journal Circulation found that men who skipped breakfast had a significantly higher risk of coronary heart disease than men who ate breakfast. But, like almost all studies of breakfast, this is an association, not causation.

More than most other domains, this topic is one that suffers from publication bias. In a paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013, researchers reviewed the literature on the effect of breakfast on obesity to look specifically at this issue. They first noted that nutrition researchers love to publish results showing a correlation between skipping breakfast and obesity. They love to do so again and again. At some point, there’s no reason to keep publishing on this.

However, they also found major flaws in the reporting of findings. People were consistently biased in interpreting their results in favor of a relationship between skipping breakfast and obesity. They improperly used causal language to describe their results. They misleadingly cited others’ results. And they also improperly used causal language in citing others’ results. People believe, and want you to believe, that skipping breakfast is bad.

Good reviews of all the observational research note the methodological flaws in this domain, as well as the problems of combining the results of publication-bias-influenced studies into a meta-analysis. The associations should be viewed with skepticism and confirmed with prospective trials.

Few randomized controlled trials exist. Those that do, although methodologically weak like most nutrition studies, don’t support the necessity of breakfast.

And who is behind this?

Many of the studies are funded by the food industry, which has a clear bias. Kellogg funded a highly cited article that found that cereal for breakfast is associated with being thinner. The Quaker Oats Center of Excellence (part of PepsiCo) financed a trial that showed that eating oatmeal or frosted cornflakes reduces weight and cholesterol (if you eat it in a highly controlled setting each weekday for four weeks).

Fight the Man. And Tony the Tiger! Don’t give in to Big Breakfast!

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  • If I’m not mistaken, you don’t like coffee, either. Breakfast is a joyless affair without a hot mug of coffee before, during, and/or after. (Or tea, if you must.) So I can understand your indifference.

    • True, but I have recently converted to tea, largely because I find myself needing caffeine in the morning much more than I used to. I loathe coffee so tea it is.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Here we call it “colonial juice.”

      • Davis

        I can’t argue with a man that eschews both coffee and bacon. It’s hopeless.

        • rea

          Well, but the meal in that picture cries out for a healthy dose of ketchup, so it stands to reason.

          • CD

            not to mention a vodka chaser

        • gmack

          Erik is clearly correct on both counts. Properly made, tea is vastly superior to coffee, and frankly, I’ve never understood the fascination with bacon. Partly, this is because I’m now a vegetarian, but even when I wasn’t, I thought the stuff was pretty much just fatty, salty, and gross.

      • Malaclypse

        I loathe coffee

        As our greatest Founder once almost said, coffee is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. Why do you hate America, Erik?

    • Coffee and cigarettes, the breakfast of champions.

      • N__B

        I thought the BoC was cold pizza and amphetamines.

        • Ahuitzotl

          4 lightly poached aspirin

  • CJColucci

    Creamed chipped beef on toast. Yum!

    • Hamburger & baked potato. Pasta w sausage & broccoli rabe. Leek & feta frittata and white bean & roasted pepper salad. Pizza. Lamb, chard, & black eyed pea stew over couscous.

      A few of the things I’ve eaten for breakfast over the last week or so. I eat leftovers for breakfast. Microwaving something is fast, they’re usually balanced meals, and since I usually wake up around 4:00-4:30, go to the gym, and come home hungry, I need to eat a good meal or I’m famished at 9:30. But there’s nothing magical about breakfast food. I eat stuff I like that I’d eat for lunch or dinner, and since I started doing that I don’t eat much crap for a mid-morning snack (and while keeping weight off isn’t difficult for me, if it was, a big breakfast probably helps keep me from overeating at lunch).

      BTW, one of the best breakfasts imo, and commonly eaten as such in many places, is soup, especially in the winter.

      • NonyNony

        I generally have a banana or an apple. And maybe a piece of toast.

        I’ve always had doctors tell me that skipping breakfast altogether was bad, but that there was no need to have anything larger than a piece of fruit or a cup of yogurt. Just something to get your body’s processes kickstarted for the day and get things moving along.

        • TribalistMeathead

          I’m assuming skipping breakfast is only bad if the result is gorging at your next meal and consuming more calories at that meal than you would have consumed if you’d eaten breakfast.

          • postmodulator

            That is my understanding of why skipping breakfast is bad. My breakfast for years was a banana and a bagel and doctors were like “Sure, that’s fine.”

            I don’t know where Erik is getting these dystopian mandatory-bacon fantasies.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Yeah, that’s the thing. Skipping breakfast is fine as long as you don’t gorge yourself later–but most people gorge themselves later. The other thing is that your body’s metabolism is best served by having more frequent, smaller meals. Skipping breakfast makes that harder to accomplish. I think the best diet is to have a small breakfast, good sized lunch, afternoon snack, and then a small dinner.

            • witlesschum

              Like all health advice reported in the media, I pretty much don’t take the idea that the body is better with frequent smaller meals very seriously.

              • TribalistMeathead

                Why take the media’s advice when you can just listen to every doctor?

        • ThrottleJockey

          I’ve recently had a lot of good luck reducing my cholesterol by having a breakfast of oat bran mixed with a juice and yogurt. I usually go for a 1/2 cup each. Beyond dropping my cholesterol over 20% (which is more than the meds can do), its a great way to regulate your metabolism, manage blood sugar, and improve GI and colon health. This meal has powered me through 4 hour full body work outs, including running, and I’ve come out the other end without hunger pangs.

    • EBT

      I grew up eating L40.

    • rea

      Could we have kippers for breakfast
      Mummy dear, Mummy dear
      They got to have ’em in Texas
      Cos everyone’s a millionaire

    • mch

      Yes, creamed chipped beef on toast! Creamed chopped eggs on toast, too. My mother used to make us wonderful breakfasts like this, including (for a huge treat) lamp chops. Pie is delicious at breakfast. Anybody who doesn’t like bacon or ham (or at least the smell, even if you’re vegetarian) must have something very wrong with them.

      When I eat breakfast/brunch out, my favorite is pancakes (preferably with fresh blueberries — fresh strawberries good, too), butter, and maple syrup, two eggs over easy, and very limp bacon. (I love the idea of hash brown potatoes and the like, too, but they’re last on my list and I usually am too full to eat but a few bites.) And a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ. And COFFEE. The simplest kinds of eatery (diners and the like) do this meal best, and pretty cheaply.

      That said, I hardly ever eat this way and, then, usually when others prepare the food for me. Most mornings, I get by on a bowl of cereal or a few cookies until mid to late morning, when low blood sugar alerts me that I need something more. A hard-boiled egg, if I have them in the fridge (I often do) or a banana or something. A snack to see me through to my (usually light) lunch. Dinner is where I put my cooking and eating energy. (To which in a moment.) But if I pretty much fasted till dinner time, I’d keel over. Metabolisms differ.

      These big breakfasts are a remnant of agricultural days, of course. When I used to garden hard, I ate big breakfasts to see me through the physical toil of the morning….

  • J. Otto Pohl

    I like big breakfast like you find in the UK. But, here the standard breakfast is koko (spiced millite porridge) and koose (fried bean cakes) which is okay but not really comparable to British or American breakfast as a huge meal. Usually I just have some fruit and bread until lunch which is usually jollof and sausage.The best breakfast I have had recently was in Jerusalem.

    • Thom

      Next year breakfast in Jerusalem!

      • efgoldman

        Next year breakfast in Jerusalem!

        No way. No bacon!

        • Jewish friend of mine was home visiting her parents a few years ago, and while rummaging around their freezer, found a package that looked peculiar in their house. Her mother was mortified that my friend found it, and pleaded with my friend to not tell her siblings their parents had been eating bacon for years.

          • sharculese

            When we were kids my brothers and I spent a week with our great aunt and uncle in Florida. We’re not observant and they really aren’t either, but when they asked us what foods we wanted in the house while we were there and I said ‘ham,’ my aunt was livid.

          • efgoldman

            Her mother was mortified that my friend found it, and pleaded with my friend to not tell her siblings their parents had been eating bacon for years.

            My parents did not keep kosher, but my grandparents did. Because I was the first child of the first child, grandma spoiled me beyond rotten. She used to get something called “beef fry” for me at the kosher butcher.

          • LosGatosCA

            Pretty common – all my Jewish relatives love bacon and eat unabashedly. Their 13 year old just had his bat mitzvah in Israel so they aren’t non-practicing by any means.

            • Monsanto is working on kosher bacon. Should be ready for testing in a couple years.

              • his bat mitzvah

                ?

                Last week in our writing group at the OFH, a resident I’ve mentioned before (grew up in Vienna 6 doors down from Freud, who used to come over for pastries and chamber music until he figured he could skip the music and still get the pastries) told us a story about his first trip to Israel, to visit relatives, when he was well into his 60s or 70s. During the El Al pre-boarding examination, the security agent asked him to say something in Hebrew.

                Now, Frank (then 12) and his family had flown to Paris just after the Anschluss, and set sail for Cincinnati the day Czechoslovakia was invaded; in due course they were joined in America by (among others) his three first cousins—all boys older than he. The family seems to have been minimally observant while he was growing up, and later in life he appears to have been entirely unobservant.

                So for several tense minutes, he was at a complete loss to answer the agent, until suddenly the question “mah nishtanah, ha-laylah ha-zeh, mi-kol ha-leylot” swam into his memory and out of his mouth. To which the agent replied, “Aren’t you a little old for that?” But he let him through.

                • twbb

                  “?”

                  Stop being cisgendernormative!

                • “?”

                  Stop being cisgendernormative!

                  Just keeping the Q in LGBTQ (or, perhaps, one of the Qs in LGBTQQ; incidentally, although the Welcoming Project webpage as quoted by Google at the top of the due-acronymic-dilegence search I just conducted states that “‘LGBTQ’ is an acronym that originated in the 1990s”, I can attest that it was already in us—with “Q” for “Questioning”—on the Brandeis campus when I was briefly working there during the spring semester of 1983).

        • Thom

          A few years ago, I was having big breakfast in San Francisco with a friend from Tel Aviv. As she was chowing her pancakes and bacon, I asked if one could get bacon in Israel. She immediately said, “yes, but not this good.”

          • TribalistMeathead

            If she’s referring to beef bacon, then she’s not incorrect.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Israeli breakfast is fantastic. Picture a whole bunch of different Middle Eastern salads, various types of cheeses and other dairy, fresh bread, and an array of pickled and smoked fish. To wash it down I had a cappucino and then another one. It might have been the higlight of my three day trip.

  • tvljr

    “…bacon, a vastly overrated meat.” Hmmmm, there’s a communist conspiracy somewhere in those five words. I’m sure of it.

    • Philip

      Cutting pork out of my diet was mostly really easy, but I dearly miss hangover cure bacon

      • Merkwürdigliebe

        I’ve been a vegetarian for some time now, but the post still lost me at “bacon, a vastly overrated meat.”

        • Davis

          When my vegetarian sister cheats, it’s with bacon.

          • dr. fancypants

            I was vegetarian for eight years. When I finally decided to break, bacon was my first meaty indulgence.

      • JustRuss

        I recently got off pork too, and I have to say turkey bacon…just isn’t worth the effort.

    • Ken

      There is a conspiracy, communist or otherwise, in every group of five.

    • CaptainBringdown

      Saw this recipe in The Times recently: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12349-home-cured-bacon?version=meter+at+5&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Ftrending%2F&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=Food&module=RelatedCoverage&region=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article

      Home-cured bacon, oh yeah! I’ve got some curing in the fridge right now. Berkshire pork bellies. Instead of roasting it like the recipe calls for, I’m going to smoke it.

      I’ve never made this before, but I don’t expect to be disappointed in the least.

      • That does sound good

      • lunaticllama

        I have made bacon myself from the belly of half a pig and it is worth the effort. We smoked it as well, with very successful results.

      • My Sri Lankan mother in law fries big chunks of pork belly in a pan packed with chilies. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

        • MPAVictoria

          That sounds truly amazing…

          • It is. Only thing she makes that’s better–and almost everything she makes is amazing–is her crab curry. We’re meeting my wife’s family in Toronto this summer, rather than going to visit them at home in NC, on the coast, so no crab curry this year. Will be my first year without it since 2010. I don’t know how I’m going to manage.

            Well, I guess I can just have another meal of the fried pork bellies w chilies.

    • Richard Hershberger

      The trick with bacon is that it is death on the hoof, so go for the good stuff. Cheap bacon isn’t worth the lost days from your lifespan. Sadly (or perhaps fortunately) you can’t buy good bacon in a supermarket. I have never figured out why not, but for whatever reason, it simply isn’t available. You have to find a local meat market, buy it in slab form, and slice it as you use it.

    • Chuchundra

      Loomis truly is history’s greatest monster.

      • lahtiji

        Mayonnaise Forever!

        • witlesschum

          On a BLT.

    • ColBatGuano

      This is especially true for bacon, a vastly overrated meat.

      Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

    • LosGatosCA

      If is ‘vast’ it’s right wing and no doubt a conspiracy

  • Schadenboner

    In before complains about insufficiently authentic bagels out here in the provinces!

    • Philip

      rabble rabble San Francisco rabble rabble

  • Vance Maverick

    I like breakfast, and overeating at all hours (ETA: and bacon). What I don’t understand is the brunch ritual — standing in line all Saturday morning for a narrow set of overeating options.

    • And much of what you’re eating is whatever they’re trying to get rid of before it spoils.

      • Tom in BK

        That’s usually only the specials. Standard menu fare, in a well-run kitchen, is predictable enough that very little goes to waste.

      • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

        First, it’s a featured item on the dinner menu. Then it’s a lunch special (usually some kind of sandwich). Then it’s a brunch item. And if there is still some of it left after the weekend – Happy Hour!
        Hotel Restaurant Management 101.

    • Philip

      Cheapish daydrinking. $15 or $20 for bottomless mimosas can last you well into the afternoon if you pace yourself!

      • Tom in BK

        I live in what feels like the goddamn brunch capital of the goddamn USA. This is the right answer.

      • CD

        This I never understood. I like a drink as much as anyone, but this completely kills Sunday.

        • DrS

          For me, the point is that Sunday is a day that needs killing.

          I’ve sent Sunday’s younger than you to the gas chamber. I didn’t want to do it. But I felt I owed it to them.

          • Ahuitzotl

            to the gas chamber? lay off the red beans & rice. Be merciful to them, drown them in Bellinis

    • Ahuitzotl

      My first rule for brunch is, if you have to stand in line for it, it isnt worth it, try somewhere else.

  • To me breakfast is the enemy of lunch, and yes bacon as fetish item is out of control, but it is still delicious and I will not fall for such an obvious troll. I say good day, sir.

    • I love lunch.

      • Our twins are almost two and a half. They’re both terrific eaters, and always have been. They eat the same things and they have similar preferences. They eat similar amounts at dinner. But our daughter has to eat a fairly big breakfast or she’s very cranky within an hour or so, whereas our son will sometimes eat a ton, other times he’ll barely eat anything and just have his milk. Then he tends to eat more than her at lunch. They’ve been like this since they transitioned to all regular food. Just innate differences they seem to have been born with.

  • djw

    I thoroughly enjoy a big greasy american breakfast, but I can’t imagine doing it more than 1-2 times a month, weekly at most. (And it probably means skipping lunch.)

    I generally find that if I eat a small breakfast, I generally find it makes me more hungry, and sooner, for lunch. If I don’t eat breakfast it’s easier to skip lunch.

    • wjts

      I’ll second all of this. An occasional giant breakfast of the American, English, or Irish variety is great, but my usual “breakfast” is two or three enormous mugs of tea and, if I’m especially hungry that morning, a bagel or an egg sandwich.

    • JL

      Yeah, this. A big greasy American breakfast is a special treat. My usual breakfast is a Luna bar.

    • gmack

      I’ve never been able to understand people who skip meals. I wake up really hungry and I have a large breakfast (not greasy, though. I like lots of tea, fruit, toast with peanut butter and jam, that sort of thing). And regardless of what I eat in the morning, I’m hungry for lunch (and then dinner, and then a late snack) too.

      • djw

        It’s not uncommon for me to wake up mildly hungry, although often I don’t (it appears to have no correlation with the previous evening’s food consumption), and even if I do the hunger goes away if I ignore it for a couple hours. I’m never hungry two hours after waking up, regardless of whether I eat breakfast nor not.

        If I don’t have social or work-related reasons to time my caloric intake in the form of meals, it takes intentional discipline for me to eat meals in the first place. I might eat nothing but a huge meal at 2:30 one day, and graze throughout the day the next. The times I eat one day rarely have any relationship to the times I eat the next.

        • gmack

          It’s obvious that your eating habits are morally wrong. They’re obviously unhealthy too, and a sign of the degeneracy of our country. When Trump becomes president, we won’t be having any of this “grazing” stuff, let me tell you.

          More seriously, I absolutely must eat something first thing in the morning. On days when, for instance, I have to do an early morning long run, I have to get up two hours earlier (so around 4:00 am) to eat breakfast. It fascinates me that other people are going 12 hours or more without eating.

    • Wow- this is exactly me. If I eat breakfast, I have to have lunch. If I skip breakfast no prob until lunch. Also, I will need to nap if I have a big breakfest, which is not the same as brakfast.

    • bernard

      Me too. It sometimes lasts me all day.

    • ColBatGuano

      A yogurt and two cups of coffee is my morning ritual, but plop down a plate filled with eggs, hash browns, sausage and yes, bacon and I am polishing that baby off down to the scraps. Dammit, now I’m hungry!

  • delazeur

    This is especially true for bacon, a vastly overrated meat.

    Always glad to hear someone else who agrees with me on that.

    Personally, I find eating a large meal in the hours after waking up repulsive. Perhaps a yogurt or an egg, maybe a bagel if I am feeling indulgent, but that’s it until at least noon if not 2. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m doing it right. It just means that I’ve figured out the combination of how much I can eat to maintain my weight and enjoying own aesthetic preferences. There are however days, when I’ve had a large meal for dinner, that I don’t take in a single calorie until 4 or so.

    This is fascinating to me because I’ve always been a big breakfast eater, but I can skip one of lunch or dinner pretty easily. That’s been true since I was a toddler. I wonder why it is people end up so different in their eating habits?

    (I am similarly curious about different sleeping habits. Why do I enjoy getting up early while others hate it?)

    • CP

      Always glad to hear someone else who agrees with me on that.

      Also agree. I don’t dislike it, but it’s not that good.

      • wjts

        Yeah, it’s fine, but not any better than ham or sausage as a breakfast meat. It makes a great addition to a grilled cheese sandwich, though.

        • kped

          Pfff, ham? Ham is just crappy prosciutto. So close to the perfect meat, but so far.

          • wjts

            Prosciutto is certainly the most delicious form of the pig, followed at a modest distance by capicola, but ham serves well enough with greasy eggs, home fries, and toast.

            • kped

              Capicola was my mom’s go to cured meat. I grew up on it and love it, but it doesn’t seem as popular as salami and other cured meat. Wonder why that is.

              • CJColucci

                Like most Italian-Americans (and all Italo-Finnish Americans I know about), my ancestors came from southern Italy and I grew up hearing “Capicola” pronounced in the southern Italian style. I was already in my mid-teens when I first saw the word in writing in a deli and had no idea what it was until the counter man, another Calabrese, said: “You know, CAB-ah-gool.”

            • Thlayli

              I took a trip to Spain recently, where I tried jamón ibérico de bellota. I am now ruined for all other pork products.

              (My usual breakfast: oatmeal (no fruit) and a bit of cheese.)

            • N__B

              Sure, Lisa wjts. Bacon, ham, and pork all come from one animal. A magical animal.

        • My preference has always been for sausage, but bacon seems to have crowded it out at a lot of breakfast places. I’m particularly fond of links, which seem to be even rarer than bulk sausage patties. But a really well-seasoned, crispy patty is great.

          Fried spam is good too.

          • Juicy_Joel

            “Fried spam is good too.”

            Hell yeah it is.

            • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

              Based on your avatar, I’m assuming you are from Hawaii. Hawaiians do love their Spam – I’ll never forget all of what I called “Spam sushi” that was for sale everywhere.

              • Juicy_Joel

                Spam Musubi is a great cheap portable & filling meal and I’m sort of surprised it hasn’t really caught on on the continent.

    • Downpuppy

      Star Market has been trying to have butcher counters in their grocery stores.They don’t seem to be doing well, so they usually have one or 2 things at massive discounts. One has been a thick version of bacon that’s 4.7x better than any packaged stuff.

      One slice & some tomato on a grilled cheese…

    • Richard Hershberger

      Always glad to hear someone else who agrees with me on that.

      Auto-da-fé for both of you!

  • solidcitizen

    “This is especially true for bacon, a vastly overrated meat.”

    This maybe the dumbest thing you’ve ever written. I mean bacon is rated high because everybody who has tried it thinks it’s delicious, so it is certainly a leading contender in the “overrated” sweepstakes, but you are clearly trying to imply that it is not that good. Which is dumb. Because it is.

    “It just means that I’ve figured out the combination of how much I can eat to maintain my weight and enjoying own aesthetic preferences.”

    Don’t you need weight in order to have a weight to maintain? Is your aesthetic preference “see-through?” My God, whenever I see you, I think “Let’s get this man a hearty breakfast, stat!” I am already sorting through my favorite Portland brunch places to try to force you to go to.

    • Brunch is late enough that I can do that. Just don’t take me to some giant breakfast at 8!

      • Murc

        Dear lord, eight o’clock is when I wake up most days, and I resent the hell out of even doing that.

        • I had to drag myself out of bed at 8:30 today and was displeased by the fact

          • Rob in CT

            This explains much. I’d prefer to be that way, but as things are I have to get up for 6:30. No way could I make it to lunchtime w/o eating.

      • solidcitizen

        I’m up at 5:30 every morning, so my brunch is your lunch. Although I normally never eat breakfast, outside of the occasional hangover bagel.

        • I’m a lazy academic so the idea of getting up at 5:30 is horrid to me.

          • Denverite

            In the time between when I wake up and the “lazy academic” who I live with wakes up, I do the following:

            (1) Make coffee
            (2) Read the intertubes while having said coffee
            (3) Run six miles
            (4) Do the dishes and straighten up the kitchen
            (5) Dress the kids
            (6) Feed the kids
            (7) Make the kids’ lunches
            (8) Shower, dress and prepare for work
            (9) Feed the dog
            (10) Drop the kids off at school

            (I get up at 5:30, and she gets up around 8:30 or so.)

            • searunner

              Coffee before running? Not something I can do – at least not if I want to run 6 miles.

              • sherm

                Seconded.

                • Denverite

                  I take pre-run precautions.

                  Back when I was racing, I’d take a couple of caffeine pills before anything over 10 miles.

          • TribalistMeathead

            It still is horrid to me (and always will be), but it also takes the sting out of having to get up at 6:30 to go to class on Saturdays.

            • Denverite

              I just find that I’m not as sharp mentally if I don’t do 45-50 minutes of hard exercise in the morning.

              • sherm

                Plus, if you get up at 5:30 to run while your family is still asleep, your family can’t really complain about all the time you spend running. And that’s especially true if you’ve brewed the coffee and fed the pets on your way out the door.

        • SamChevre

          That used to be me. I grew up on a dairy farm, so for years (roughly ages 9-18) I got up at 4:15, did chores from 4:30 to 6:30 or so, then came in and ate breakfast and went to school.

          I could eat a lot more for breakfast then than I can now.

    • NonyNony

      I mean bacon is rated high because everybody who has tried it thinks it’s delicious

      Well, no. Not really. Lots of people don’t care much for bacon. I personally find it to be okay in small amounts as a flavor enhancer (like sprinkled on a salad) but if I’m having meat with breakfast I’d rather have ham or sausage. Or a cheap steak smothered in egg yolk. Or corned beef hash.

      But for some reason bacon-lovers are loud and very visible on the internet.

      Personally I suspect a lot of this is due to the fact that bacon is considered an unhealthy meat for multiple reasons, and people who like to loudly express opinions that say “screw you” to authority figures telling them not to do things they like are wildly overrepresented on the Internet in general (hence the large number of loud libertarians that have infested the internet since time immemorial. Or at least since the late 80s).

      • solidcitizen

        Oh, I know. My bacon consumption is probably about 10 pieces a year, so it is more of a delightful treat. Like dim sum.

    • gmack

      Even back when I ate meat, bacon always made me sick. I’ll pass, thanks.

  • libarbarian

    This is especially true for bacon, a vastly overrated meat.

    Obvious Troll is Obvious.

    Seriously. My friend from west Bengal told me about reading about Bacon for years and waiting for a chance to try it. He finally got to Canada and was able to eat real bacon (not canadian) …. and even then, even after all those years of expectation, “it was even better than I had ever imagined”.

    Sex had been a bit of a let down after all those years of anticipation, but bacon was actually BETTER than he had imagined it would be.

    Your Contrarian slip is showing on this one.

    • NonyNony

      Okay wait – did he get to eat REAL bacon? You say “not Canadian” but was it actually peameal bacon that he was eating and not the crispy pieces of fat that they serve down here in the US and call bacon?

      Because peameal bacon prepared correctly is absolutely divine and worth any heart attacks you might get from it. I can see how people would enjoy having that on their plate.

      • kped

        In Canada, if you order bacon, you get bacon. You need to ask for peameal, no one just gives you that thinking it’s what you wanted.

    • witlesschum

      This is especially true for bacon, a vastly overrated meat.

      This is why I really, unreservedly and unsarcastically love Erik’s food trolling. Anybody can come for vodka, but he’s titling at bacon.

  • Bitter Scribe

    An experienced traveler told me that a good way to save money on food on the road is to eat a big breakfast and go light on lunch and dinner. Breakfast tends to be cheaper on a per-calorie basis.

  • apogean

    The huge American breakfast is supposed to be an *event*, not a regular pastime. I think most people probably do only eat something small before lunch. Certainly I can’t imagine most people are preparing eggs, pancakes and bacon most mornings, or even going to Denny’s most mornings, unless they do hard manual labor. Your average office worker could never keep that up.

    • Rob in CT

      Right. I do bacon & eggs on the weekends. 1 egg, 3 slices of bacon (admittedly, thick cut), half a slice of cheese & an English muffin. That’ll keep me until lunch.

      Adding in the other stuff – more eggs, home fries, etc… I’d pack on pounds fast.

    • TribalistMeathead

      Yeah – on the rare occasion where I have a big breakfast, it’s on the weekend, and I don’t eat again until dinner.

    • sharculese

      A big breakfast is a thing that my family does only twice a year, on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Not particularly, greasy, just scrambled eggs, pancakes, fruit salad, and bacon. I used to make Scotch eggs, but I realized it was too time consuming for something only my dad and I would eat.

    • Richard Hershberger

      The huge American breakfast is supposed to be what you eat once the sun has risen, after working for an hour or two in the barn, and before going out into the fields for the serious work of the day. The problems arise when it is what you eat before sitting down to your computer for the day.

  • Rob in CT

    I get not wanting to eat a giant pile of food early in the morning. Bacon overrated? Hard to imagine, given how totally awesome it is, but there’s no accounting for taste, especially yours.

    I’m not sure I’ve skipped breakfast since college. And then I only skipped it b/c I was up until 4am and slept until lunchtime. Breakfast is just flat-out necessary for me. As is lunch. As is dinner. If I massively overeat at one of those meals, sure, skipping or mostly skipping (having nothing but a small salad or somesuch) might happen. I try to avoid that though.

    • John Revolta

      no accounting for taste, especially yours.

      Oooo. I can’t believe I never heard or thought of this line before. However I promise to use it at least once a day, forever, to make up for it. Cheers.

  • efgoldman

    Bacon is seven out of the four basic food groups.
    Since I’ve been retired I sleep later, and basically eat two meals a day: A noonish brunch and dinner between six and seven. So a big breakfast-type meal is usually in the cards. Had a yummy bacon and swiss omelet at the diner up the street today.

  • If I went til 4 without food, my blood sugar would crash and I would be useless until bedtime. I wouldn’t mind skipping breakfast a lot of days, though, but I like my coffee and my poor almost-50 stomach couldn’t handle that.

    • Rob in CT

      Same, except not only useless – I’d be grumpy as fuck. I’m really not pleasant when my blood sugar gets too low.

      • DrDick

        In my case, grumpy followed by semi-comatose.

    • DrDick

      Yeah. I have to eat something early in the morning or mine crashes before lunch. Normally I only have a cup of plain lowfat yogurt and a piece of fruit. The standard big American breakfast or starchy dry cereals causes an insulin spike followed by a massive crash about mid-morning. Issues with my blood sugar metabolism (not hypoglycemia) mean I have to eat on a fairly rigid schedule most of the time.

  • Turkle

    I largely agree with this, although for brutal hangovers a nice greasy breakfast is precisely the solution. And I wouldn’t go on a big hike through the mountains without a hearty breakfast.

    But for sitting at my desk all day… Peanut butter on toast and banana are more than enough to tide me over until my lunch salad.

    • UncleEbeneezer

      Yeah, I don’t eat a big breakfast on weekdays, but on the weekends, especially if hiking or tennis is on the schedule I love a nice big greasy breakfast (or a breakfast burrito.) And Juevos Rancheros with Hatch green chiles is another excellent way to charge up for an active day.

  • keta

    Breakfast is and always has been coffee and a cigarette.

    Now fer crissakes, kids, hurry up and finish or you’ll be late for fucking school again.

  • prufrock

    I have to eat breakfast. Cardio gets done early in the morning or it doesn’t get done. Because of that, I’m really hungry hours before lunch. However, breakfast is normally a small bowl of raisin bran followed up by fruit a few hours later at around 10:00.

    Big breakfasts are generally reserved for Sundays only.

  • CHD

    I absolutely cannot function until lunch without eating something. To some extent it’s habit, but it is actually more than that. But I agree that a big breakfast needs to be an occasional treat.
    Two other thoughts: There is a really really wide variation in bacon, even in gocery store brands, let alone good bacon from a butcher. In fact I’d dare to say the variation from mediocre bacon to good bacon is at least as wide as it is for pizza … or tequila.
    Second: Erik you might need less caffeine if you had a smallish breakfast eg steel cut oats. (BTW the fiber has other important side benefits as you get older…)

  • NewishLawyer

    I love breakfast foods. Nothing is better than a good corn muffin with a spread of rapsberry jam.

  • witlesschum

    The full Irish breakfast I had over there beats anything we do. The pub I ate it at (once) thought breakfast should be two pieces of really thick bacon, two regular sausages, two kinds of blood sausage, two fried eggs, baked beans, some potatoes, toast and a couple tomato slices. Just what you need to clamber up hills in the rain.

    • Ronan

      Black pudding is the blood sausage. I actually had a black pudding falafel sandwich today for lunch, was alright. You should try the white pudding, oaty but delicious

      • witlesschum

        The white pudding isn’t blood sausage, too? I was robbed!

    • Captain Oblivious

      The first time I visited the UK, I spent the first few days staying in hotels where you had to pay for your breakfast, so I was eating b-fast at McDonald’s and coffee shops. Then I went to Tyddewi (St Davids), Wales and stayed at a B&B. I’d never stayed in a B&B anywhere, so I didn’t know what the “breakfast” part was. I figured it was like the self-serve breakfasts you get in American interstate motels. And it was off-season, so there was no one else in the dining room to take cues from.

      Anyway, I wander into the dining room, and I see some bins of cereal and a milk pitcher and bowls on the back table, with some fruit, and I figure, that’s it. So I fill up a bowl with cereal, splash in some milk, pour myself some orange juice, and sit down to eat.

      A few moments later, the very nice lady who owns the place comes in and asks me if I’d like some eggs and bacon.

      “Sure.”

      “Would you like the full breakfast?”

      I have no idea what that is, but I don’t want to look like a stupid tourist, so I say, “That would be wonderful.”

      She goes off and returns about five minutes later with a GINORMOUS plate containing

      * three perfectly fried eggs
      * a large portion of french fries (this, I discovered later, is a popular breakfast item in Wales)
      * several slices of that fatty crap Brits call “bacon”
      * fried tomatoes
      * at least a cup of sauteed mushrooms
      * buttered toast

      She puts this down and asks me if I’d like anything else.

      I somehow managed to eat most of it because I didn’t want to seem rude after she had gone to all the trouble of making it for me (also, except for the bacon, it was very good). But that was easily the biggest breakfast I’ve ever had in my life, and after that, I made sure to just order the eggs and toast and skip the rest.

  • sharculese

    I don’t eat a big breakfast often, and the idea of eating that much earlier in the day grosses me out, but a good breakfast for dinner, or better a breakfast-for-dinner based entree, is a thing of joy. These are a common element of my cooking rotation:

    http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/stacked-breakfast-enchiladas/

  • advocatethis

    On a daily basis I don’t eat breakfast, just have my two cups of coffee, but I like it once in a while on weekends. When I stopped eating meat I initially found meatless breakfasts bland and pointless. I’ve adjusted so much now that I enjoy a breakfast of fruit and cornbread pancakes or biscuits and gravy and no meat, to the point that the thought of eating greasy bacon or sausage with breakfast (as opposed to a burger or steak for dinner – that craving won’t die) is kind of revolting.

  • StellaB

    Breakfast is the high point of the day. My fat dog and I stagger into the kitchen as soon as we wake up, while my husband and the skinny dogs snore. After breakfast, we grab the goldfish food and go feed the fish who are waiting impatiently. I’m hungry all day, if I don’t get a hefty breakfast. My dog is just hungry.

    Bacon is very, very good, but buttered coffee is nauseating.

  • Marc

    I wake up quite hungry, and I’d have a pounding headache and be irritable if I didn’t eat until 4 PM. People are different.

    I don’t need much for breakfast most days, but a nice meal a couple of days a week is pleasant.

  • Crusty

    I expect to see a republican congressman reading from Loomis’ post on the floor of the House in support of his bill to cancel school breakfast funding.

    • Lev

      More likely as evidence of a liberal “war on bacon” which god-fearing Americans need to respond to by eating more of it. And why not? After all, it’s been great for the South!

  • My normal breakfast is yogurt, granola and fruit.

    Once in a while on a weekend I’ll cook a big brunch, but that has to last until dinner.

    Eating like a farmhand is fine, if you’re going to go out and burn 4000 calories a day working on a farm. Not many of us do that in this day and age.

    • Captain Oblivious

      I find, despite being rather sedentary, that if I don’t eat a fair amount of calories for breakfast, I overeat later in the day and/or wind up snacking more than I should all day. So typically 2 eggs, some kind of starch (English muffin, bagel, or fried potatoes), and a glass of V8 for breakfast. No bacon or ham unless I pop over to McD’s for an Egg McMuffin.

      Since moving out of a family situation where I didn’t have much input into my meal choices, and where breakfast was limited to cereal and milk because there was a professional office in the house and we couldn’t stink the place up at breakfast or lunch, I’ve actually lost a bit of weight by shifting more of my calories to breakfast and lunch and having a small dinner, if any.

      I think you just have to find out what works for your lifestyle, metabolism, and food preferences.

    • witlesschum

      Yeah, yogurt and granola is better than breakfast cereal, for some reason. That’s my usual weekday. Or a bagel.

      • I used to eat cereal but it doesn’t seem to stick with me very long. I’m usually hungry again long before lunch time.

  • Breakfast IS coffee!!

    Speaking of the breakfast-industrial complex: John Harvey Kellogg’s Legacy of Cereal, Sociopathy, and Sexual Mutilation

    • I knew Kellogg was weird but I had no idea he was a literally a monster.

      That was horrifying.

      • LeeEsq

        The early 20th century was a weird time where Evangelical Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church were often on the more ethical side of health issues than secular people who believed in science if only by accident.

        • PohranicniStraze

          Although Kellogg himself couldn’t be described as secular at all.

  • MPAVictoria

    It is funny how we all are different isn’t it?

    I wake up at around 6:30 and do all the pet related things you do when you have two cats and an elderly pug named Stella. Then I try and roust my partner from bed (usually fail), go shower and then repeat trying to get my partner up. Then while they get ready I go down stairs and make coffee for me, tea in a travel mug for my partner and our lunches. Then just before we go I make my partner a glass tuperware container of Oatmeal for them to eat in the car on the way to work. So I guess during the week I only have coffee and maybe sometimes a piece of fruit for breakfast.

    On the weekends however I am always quite happy to dig into a traditional big breakfast. Yum!

    • BigHank53

      do all the pet related things you do when you have two cats and an elderly pug named Stella.

      I have to admit you’ve raised the most fascinating (and yet utterly trivial) question: How would your morning routine change if your elderly pug was named something other than Stella?

      • N__B

        The portion of the morning routine that involves wearing a ripped tee and yelling “Stella!” would be considered a dangerous aberration rather than a bad joke.

      • MPAVictoria

        Much, much sadder.

  • Rob Patterson

    I continue to believe that the allegedly widespread love of bacon is the result of a Trading Places-type bet between two old rich guys, along the lines of, “I bet I can make a cured meat made from pigs that is really bad for your stomach lining the most popular thing on the Internet”.

    • dr. fancypants

      I’m pretty sure the bacon fetish long predates the internet. The internet bacon hipsters are just the modern version of my dad, who’s been similarly on about bacon for my whole life.

  • Ahenobarbus

    …the American fetish for breakfast…

    fet·ish
    ˈfediSH/
    noun
    something other people like that I don’t.

  • leftwingfox

    I need my morning carbs. A bagel, toast or a bowl of cereal will do.

    Weekends I’ll make myself a bigger brunch; pancakes or waffles from scratch, or steel cut oatmeal.

    Bacon and eggs are a nice occasional treat, but rarely more than once a month.

  • JMG

    The three elements of the perfect balanced breakfast. 1. Black coffee. 2. The sports section. 3. Total silence.
    On weekends, I splurge with the occasional tomato juice or V-8.

  • Quite Likely

    I usually don’t have much of a breakfast, but I do love all those classic greasy breakfast foods. Really in terms of how I actually live my life ‘breakfast food’ is what I eat for lunch on weekends.

  • Whatever you do, don’t put anything sweet on your grits.

    • brewmn

      Does butter count?

    • Julia Grey

      Amen!

      Cheese. Butter. Salt. Pepper. Even a little crumbled sausage. But never, ever EVER sugar or ::gag:: syrup.

    • I thought that discussion was reserved for twitter.

  • DrS

    I could never tuck into a big breakfast first thing. I usually have a small something to get going and to soak up a couple cups of coffee without getting jittery.

    On a weekend though, 40-60 miles of biking in the morning followed by a huge brunch and cocktails? Pure heaven.

  • JustRuss

    I get why Kelloggs is a breakfast concern-troll. What’s everyone else’s motivation? Honestly, I don’t care when or what someone else eats, unless they’re always whining about how hard it is to control their weight.

  • Lev

    I’ll tell you the worst thing about breakfast: pancakes and waffles. Just not worth it, guys. They’re obsolete. We don’t need foods originally conceived of centuries ago for the sole purpose of keeping calories and carbs on a person for a whole day of backbreaking work. They’re solving a problem we no longer have. Or I guess nothing beats feeling logy and tired an hour after you wake up because your body needs all your energy just to break down your breakfast? And they don’t taste good to boot. You know why I know that? Because nobody eats them plain! Syrup, whipped cream, various sugary fruit toppings. By the end of it you’ve basically eaten for the day. Might as well eat a piece of actual cake in the morning than a pancake–it’s essentially the same food, only in a pan. Hence the name.

    As a vegetarian I never eat bacon, though y’all’s preference for foods scientifically designed to kill you amuses me, but let’s go after the real enemy here.

    • People generally don’t eat dry toast, either. Does that mean toast doesn’t taste good?

      Yes, pancakes and waffles are sometimes served with excessive toppings, but a good pancake doesn’t need anything more than butter and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup.

    • ColBatGuano

      I’ll tell you the worst thing about breakfast: pancakes and waffles… And they don’t taste good to boot.

      You are plumbing the depths of wrongness here.

    • witlesschum

      You are the breakfast HA! Goodman, as your failure to offer an alternative delivery system for maple syrup is as big of an error as any of his.

      I put a mustard/syrup topping on waffles once, that was great. And pancakes and waffles are just great in general.

      • N__B

        Mrs__B makes – usually as a Thanksgiving side dish – candied bacon. It’s as close to using bacon as a syrup delivery system as you can get.

        Excuse me while I go drool.

  • epidemiologist

    This is an interesting topic but the way the author discusses it is misleading. They note that there is publication bias in this literature, but then also claim that there is no need to continue publishing on this topic. What about publishing null or counterintuitive findings that might address the bias, or publishing studies conducted using better methodology?

    The problems noted in the article (some studies with conflicting findings, which should be expected even in high quality research; and publication bias) actually strengthen the need for reviews and meta-analyses, as well as for original research. The point of a meta-analysis is to try to draw conclusions from a larger body of literature given its heterogeneity. A competently performed meta-analysis will also attempt to look for publication bias and either correct for it, or limit the conclusions drawn.

    The author does exactly what he has been criticizing when he concludes that “breakfast has no mystical powers”. This review found that the evidence in this area is both biased and weak. That’s not at all the same thing as finding that the association doesn’t exist.

  • Cool Bev

    Bacon hell – Donuts!

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the only meal where pastry is a main course.

    • gmack

      Dessert?

  • LeeEsq

    My usual, meaning nearly every day breakfast is banana, yogurt, and hot coffee with milk. On special occasions, usually I’m traveling for work, I’ll eat something more elaborate. I usually prefer a light lunch and a heavy supper.

  • UncleEbeneezer

    Mmmmm, huge breakfasts…Chicken-fried steak and eggs, Breakfast burritos, Fried chicken and Waffles. Yes please. And you can pass me the bacon.

  • Linnaeus

    My typical breakfast is oatmeal and/or yogurt with toast and coffee. I occasionally do the full breakfast thing on weekends, but that’s about it.

  • YosemiteSemite

    After the tofu post, this will be Part Two of the Portlandia episode. “…bacon, a vastly overrated meat.” Or maybe it should be the Prologue. Up to Fred Armisen and friends to decide.

  • DrS

    I see a lot of people say that large breakfasts are a link to an agrarian past where people would need to fuel up massively to work all day in the fields. I could have sworn I read something debunking that in the last few years?

    I can’t find it off hand. I did find this which dates the origin of bacon and egg as American breakfast to less than 100 years ago.

    Anyone shocked that Mr. Edward Bernays was involved?

    • When we were founding a cooperative poetry press 45 years ago, one among us called in some markers (as it were) and we got free advice on how to publicize and promote it from Mr. Bernays. The advice gave enough of us (me included) enough of a sick feeling that we took none of it.

      The press did fine without it, and is still going strong (many generations of members later, and admittedly with a lot of changes that those surviving founders I’m still in touch with don’t really like much—but, hey); it has a backlist that’s quite rightly the envy of the small-press world. So there, Eddie!

      P. S.: ON-TOPIC BONUS NOTE FROM ANOTHER EDWARD!

      as freedom is a breakfastfood
      or truth can live with right and wrong
      or molehills are from mountains made
      —long enough and just so long
      will being pay the rent of seem
      and genius please the talentgang
      and water most encourage flame

      as hatracks into peachtrees grow
      or hopes dance best on bald men’s hair
      and every finger is a toe
      and any courage is a fear
      —long enough and just so long
      will the impure think all things pure
      and hornets wail by children stung

      or as the seeing are the blind
      and robins never welcome spring
      nor flatfolk prove their world is round
      nor dingsters die at break of dong
      and common’s rare and millstones float
      —long enough and just so long
      tomorrow will not be too late

      worms are the words but joy’s the voice
      down shall go which and up come who
      breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
      deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
      —time is a tree(this life one leaf)
      but love is the sky and i am for you
      just so long and long enough

      • Robert M.

        Out of curiosity, which press?

        ETA: Never mind. Google to the rescue!

  • Christine Lavin à propos.

  • wengler

    Of course you hate bacon. I eat it with ketchup and mayo and finish it with a vodka martini.

    • I actually do like bacon. I just think it’s overrated.

  • Julia Grey

    Must eat in the a.m.

    Iced coffee in a big quart-sized mug and (usually) some bread product with something on top: English muffin w Camembert; everything bagel w cream cheese, lox, onions and capers; toast w peanut butter and jelly, that kind of thing.

    If I’m feeling particularly ambitious I’ll make us some ham and (sharp) cheddar omelets, cheese grits, or refried beans, cheese and salad on flour tortillas.

    Then there is the occasional slice of cold pizza, some mornings.

    It’s all good.

  • How bacon became over-rated http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-06/bacon-why-americas-favorite-food-mania-happened

    Good sausage is as good as good bacon but harder to find. If you can find “hotel cut” bacon it’s vastly superior to the stuff in the grocery store package.

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