The reinvention of breakfast

The story of how bacon and eggs became the all-American breakfast is a little more complicated than you’d think... 🥓🍳

Where did it all begin?

It's one of the Americans' favorite breakfasts — but its popularity was initially staged. How did bacon and eggs become the all-American breakfast? Where did this phenomenon begin?

Breakfast started out simple

In the 1900s, after the Industrial Revolution and the invention of processed cereals, Americans began eating simple breakfast of coffee, cereal or toast, and juice. In the 1920s, Edward L. Bernays — known as the "father of public relations"— changed the way Americans ate their first meal of the day. He worked for several different major American companies such as Procter & Gamble and General Electric and various other politicians, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. He even taught a course on public relations at New York University which was a first for this field. Bernays was also Sigmund Freud’s nephew. His approach to marketing was based on a deep understanding of psychology. He's known for his "Torches of Freedom" campaign to encourage women's smoking by exploiting their aspirations for a better life.

Selling bacon through psychology

Bernays was hired by the Beech-Nut Packing company to sell bacon. He researched American eating habits and Beech-Nut’s internal doctor who said that that a heavier breakfast would be healthier. 4,500 other physicians backed the idea. Since there were physicians backing up this concept, the sale of bacon increased.

There’s no breakfast without bacon and eggs

In the 1970s, the classic bacon and eggs got an update: it became a to-go breakfast sandwich. Herb Peterson, a McDonald’s franchise owner, invented the Egg McMuffin — the fast-food version of eggs benedict, topped with bacon and melted cheese to substitute hollandaise sauce. Soon the breakfast sandwich became mainstream. Now, it is hard to find a restaurant that serves breakfast that does not offer some combination of eggs and bacon on their menu.