The Reason People Believe Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

We've all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's such a ubiquitous phrase that it's almost cliché. But do we actually believe this blanket statement? Feels like we do when you consider that in 2020, people in the United States ate approximately 102 billion breakfast meals and 50 billion morning snacks, according to a press release issued by market research firm The NPD Group. And The NPD Group says it looks like breakfast isn't going away. We like it. Whether we eat it at home or at our favorite fast food restaurant, we've definitely bought into this morning meal ritual.

But breakfast hasn't always been such a talked-about meal. Heather Arndt Anderson, author of Breakfast: A History, told Huffington Post, "It was actually socially and morally frowned upon to eat breakfast until about the 17th century, with the reformation of the church." Anderson went on to say that Queen Elizabeth's fondness for this meal helped boost its popularity among Europeans. But what was the genesis of the pro-breakfast movement that got Americans to believe eating our Wheaties and drinking our OJ in the morning was so important?

It was a marketing slogan

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is nothing more than a marketing slogan, and a really good one at that. The saying is widely attached to cereal genius Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and fellow 7th Day Adventist James Caleb Jackson and their efforts to promote breakfast cereal (via Day Two). But they weren't the first to say it. The Daily Telegraph credits dietitian Lenna Cooper with using this phrase in a 1917 article for Good Health magazine, which was published by a Michigan sanitarium directed by Kellogg. And it clearly has made its impact on consumers. Fast-forward to the present day, and cereal is still a part of our daily morning meal routine. The proof is in Kellogg's profits. The food giant made $1.4 billion U.S. dollars in profit in 2019 off its cereals and convenience foods (via Statista).

But like with all good ideas, throughout the years, others have jumped on the magic of breakfast being the most important meal of the day campaign which has only further ingrained the concept in our culture. Today we enjoy bacon and eggs, avocado toast, pancakes, yogurt and granola, and a host of breakfast sandwiches and burritos that confirm not just our love for this morning meal, but that we bought in to – or were maybe brainwashed by – the slogan that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.