Breakfast is the most important meal of the dayan aphorism first uttered by, of all people, Franz Kafkabut our ancestors were slow to get the wake-up call. Our Neolithic kin ground grains for a sort of porridge, and Roman soldiers started the day with another porridge called pulmentus. But for much of recorded history, only children and the weak ate three square meals a day. Adults were expected to get by on a midday dinner and a light supper.
The word breakfast doesnt even appear in English until 1463, in a royal expense accounting. Confusingly, in Latin this conjoining of break the fast was disjejunare, from which our word dinner also derives. As the midday dinner moved later in the day, people woke up hungrier and began to need a morning meal. The rise of office and factory work later fed the demand for breakfast before leaving home (and contributed to dinners move to the evening, since workers couldnt readily return home at midday for a big meal).
Oats didnt begin to supplant corn at breakfast until the 19th century, when they first became widely cultivated. Quaker Oats and its figure of a man in Quaker garb were trademarked in 1877, though the product was still sold in bulk rather than in boxes. The company promptly went bankrupt. Rescued by Henry Parson Crowell in 1881, Quaker Oats launched the first national magazine ads for a breakfast cerealbeginning a profitable symbiosis between cereals and advertising.
- Some say French toast was originally called German toast, but the French won out thanks to WWI anti-German sentiment.
- A recipe for a pancake appears in an ancient cookbook by the Roman Apicius, and almost every culture has its own version.
- Doughnuts were considered snacks, not breakfast, until World War II, when they were served to soldiers.
- 1270: France establishes a guild to train street waffle vendors
- 1620: Dutch Pilgrims bring waffles to America
- 1863: Dr. James Caleb Jackson develops Granula
- 1894: Kellogg brothers accidentally discover cereal flakes
- 1924: General Mills introduces Wheaties
- 1937: Vernon Rudolph founds Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem, NC
- 1953: Brothers Tony, Sam and Frank Dorsa sell Eggo frozen waffles
- 1958: First International House of Pancakes opens in Toluca Lake, Calif
- 1966: Quaker introduces instant oatmeal
- 1972: McDonalds rolls out the Egg McMuffin nationwide
From the December 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine
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