At Murphy’s Diner, we know a little something about breakfast. We have to, as one of the premiere breakfast restaurants in Manchester. Every day we’re open, without fail, someone orders bacon and eggs. Old, young, men, women, it always happens. It got us to thinking, why are those particular foods associated with breakfast so strongly?
In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, the traditional breakfast included steak, roast leg of lamb, pork chops, fish, and oysters. Occasionally scrambled eggs would make an appearance. Yes, all of those things made an appearance at a single meal. It was thought that chubby people, especially men, were specimens of health. But when nutritionists started examining the morning meal, they proclaimed that a 5-course breakfast wasn’t precisely a healthy option. Over time several meats disappeared from the breakfast table. However, egg producers saw what was happening and lobbied to save them. They mounted an effective public relations campaign (Ever notice how vegetarians are okay with eating eggs, despite them being a meat?), and eggs became a staple.
Bacon appears along similar lines. In the 1920’s, Austrian marketing whiz Edward Bernays was hired by the Beech-Nut Packing Company. They wanted to increase the demand for bacon in America. As a nephew of Sigmund Freud’s, Bernays was no fool. He approached a company doctor and asked him if a heavier breakfast was more beneficial for the public. The doctor knew which side his bread was buttered on, and not only did he confirm it, but he was able to convince another five thousand doctors across the country to vouch for the health benefits of a big breakfast. As a result, major newspapers and magazines reported that a “health study” found bacon and eggs were the ideal first meal of the day. Unsurprisingly, Beech-Nut’s profits exploded, and bacon and eggs were here to stay.