What Shall We Have for Breakfast?

There have been arguments over what constitutes a proper breakfast for at least a hundred years. Here are some excerpts from a 1917 article:

What Shall We Have for Breakfast?

Between the old-fashioned hearty breakfast and the coffee and roll of the slender modern meal, there is a golden mean. Those of us whose days are busy ones need to start them with plenty of nourishing food. This does not mean that we should overload the stomach, but it does mean that we should take sufficient food to keep from feeling faint in the middle of the morning.  The body needs to be “coaled up” just as a furnace does for a day’s work.

But steaks and chops every morning are out of the question. Some families, however, still regard the egg as the breakfast dish. Almost everyone wants fruit for breakfast. Stewed rhubarb is a healthful breakfast fruit. Apples, uncooked, baked, fried or in applesauce, cannot be improved upon.

Advertisements on packaged cereals usually quote alluring figures to prove how surprisingly low is the cost of cereals. And, yet, these do not seem so cheap when the housewife begins to cast up accounts! Many grains and cereals — oatmeal, hominy, and others —  can be purchased by the pound. This is particularly delicious with stewed canned berries.

Griddle cakes are always popular, and if well made, and quickly and thoroughly cooked, are light and digestible. If the family does not object to fried things, rice fritters will be enjoyed.

Good Housekeeping (October, 1917)



15 thoughts on “What Shall We Have for Breakfast?

  1. I was blessed with a grandmother committed to fruit pie as a breakfast food, particularly apple with cheddar, cherry, or rhubarb. Today, I usually go with yogurt with nuts and fruit stirred in, and topped with granola. However, I did go through a period when I was in grade school when I wanted nothing but cold meat loaf and tomato soup. My mother was a little unstrung over that, but my dad pointed out that, nutritionally, it was perfectly acceptable. So, we’d work together on a big meatloaf on Sunday, and she’d slice off as much as I wanted through the week. I have no idea why I made that choice.

    1. Fruit pie for breakfast sounds delicious.

      Sometimes I like to have spaghetti or other hearty leftovers for breakfast, so I understand your desire for meatloaf and tomato soup. (I would have warmed them up, though 🙂 ) How long did that phase last for you?

      1. I’m not exactly sure, but I’d say about six months. And the soup was hot. If we’d had microwaves, the meatloaf probably would have been warmed, too, this was in the early 1950s, so no microwaves. That’s all right — I still eat cold meatloaf from time to time.

  2. I couldn’t have dated that article by the word usage, but I did giggle at the reference to “coaling up the furnace”. The picture in my head of the housewife “casting up accounts” was of a wife juggling things in the air rather than figuring out costs with a pencil and paper. I think I would cast caution to the winds, and even that sounds dated.

  3. Griddle cakes! Wish I had someone around to make them for me. p.s., My daughter always wanted liver for breakfast. We learned many years later — in her pre-marital physical — that she has an inherited anemia trait. It used to send her scraping the ice accumulation off our old fashioned freezer walls as well.

  4. Interesting to think about how our typical breakfast fare came about. Toast and bacon must have gained popularity after this article was written. I stick to hot cereal with fruit mixed in.

  5. I would happily eat any of those breakfast choices. I wouldn’t mind Shoreacres meatloaf either. I am the type who will wilt by mid morning if I haven’t had a good breakfast (and coffee!)

  6. I like breakfast foods anytime of the day,or dinner foods in the morning. I think I’ll take fried mush over rice fritters, corn has more flavor.🙂

  7. I agree that eggs are the ideal breakfast food. Recently I attended a conference for several days and everyday for continental breakfast it was nothing but sugary carbs: muffins, cinnamon buns, etc. they had yogurt with granola but it was too sweet for me. I was craving a hard boiled egg. That, with a banana, is my on the run breakfast.

  8. Oh too funny, I did not read your comment at the beginning and was thinking that the blurb from 1917 was yours! We really are consistent with thoughts from 100 years ago in terms of breakfast

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