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Convenience Still a Driving Factor when It Comes to American Breakfast

From the earliest days of the republic, Americans broke their fast in the morning by eating whatever was most easily available

Convenience, American, Breakfast
Originally invented to cure health problems, cereal became a staple on American breakfast tables due to its convenience as well as marketing efforts by cereal makers. (Photo courtesy Flickr user with wind via Creative Commons license. VOA

From the earliest days of the republic, Americans broke their fast in the morning by eating whatever was most easily available, which often included bread, eggs or leftovers.

Convenience is still a driving factor when it comes to breakfast, but what is eaten has evolved over time. The habit of consuming certain foods for breakfast, such as cereal, is the result of extraordinarily effective marketing.

“Advertising was practically invented to sell cereal,” says Heather Arndt Anderson, the author of “Breakfast: A History.”

“One of the first ways advertising was successfully or effectively used was to convince mothers that it was OK for their children to eat these instant cereals. It sort of offered working mothers a chance to let kids take care of themselves in the morning.”

Convenience, American, Breakfast
Advertising worker Albert Lasker came up with an ad concept that pushed drinking orange juice in an effort to sell more oranges. VOA

As women entered the workforce to help support their families, cereal was a food kids could take care of on their own without having to do anything dangerous like light a stove.

“That’s still sort of the power, really the lasting effect of breakfast as being the first meal that kids do learn how to prepare themselves,” Arndt Anderson says. “Even today, even though there are so many other instant foods or foods that do not require cooking, I know it’s the first thing I learned how to make when I was a kid.”

Advertising also played a key role in orange juice becoming a morning beverage. In 1916, a surplus of oranges gave birth to the advertising slogan, “Drink an orange,” which aimed to convince people that juicing an orange (or a few oranges) was a healthy way to start the day. Two years later, a worldwide flu epidemic prompted consumers to drink more orange juice for its health benefits.

Coffee might have the 1773 Boston Tea Party to thank for its U.S. popularity. After the colonists protested British taxation by dumping tea into Boston Harbor, some made a point of shunning tea and turning to coffee instead.

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In a 1774 letter to his wife, Founding Father John Adams wrote, “I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well. Tea must be universally renounced.”

By the 1830s, coffee was already such a staple that pioneers traveling to the American West made sure to pack coffee beans to have along on the journey.

Pancakes have also been around practically forever. Researchers believe the world’s oldest naturally preserved human mummy ate a pancake-like food as one of his last meals.

Historians think it’s possible hotcakes were relegated to the morning because they are much quicker to prepare than bread. That left cooks with plenty of time to bake fresh loaves in time for dinner.


Convenience, American, Breakfast
Scientists believe Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy ate a final meal 5,000 years ago that included a pancake-like food, cooked over an open fire. VOA

In addition to pancakes, U.S. households still consume other breakfast foods — like bread and eggs — that their ancestors did. Not only have those breakfast basics remained the same, but so also have people’s concerns about healthy food options.

“Before, it wasn’t like people were worried about the gluten content of bread, but they were worried about whether or not … a hot, steamy buttery roll would be too rich for the body,” says Arndt Anderson. “This idea of clean eating and healthy eating is a centuries-old construct, and the only thing that’s changed has been the details with which we define what these things are — what clean eating is, and being healthy.”

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Looking toward the future, Arndt Anderson hopes more Americans will view leftovers as a breakfast food, which in addition to being tasty, is a great way to minimize waste. (VOA)

Next Story

NASA Asks American Aerospace Companies to Offer Detailed Ideas for Future Lunar Lander

NASA called the request for input a "major step" forward for its new moon mission, dubbed Artemis

NASA, American, Aerospace
FILE - NASA's Space Launch System mobile launcher rolls on a crawler-transporter for months of testing before the launch of Artemis 1 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, June 27, 2019. VOA

U.S. space agency NASA on Monday asked American aerospace companies to offer detailed ideas for vehicles that could bring two astronauts to the moon by 2024, an American objective that was reconfirmed on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

NASA called the request for input a “major step” forward for its new moon mission, dubbed Artemis — who in Greek mythology was Apollo’s twin sister.

The space agency published documents explaining in detail what it is looking for in a lunar lander that will bring the two astronauts, one a woman, to the moon’s south pole, where they will stay for six-and-a-half days.

In May, 11 companies including sector mainstays Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman were picked to lead feasibility studies and develop prototypes by November. Also on the list were newcomers such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

NASA, American, Aerospace
FILE – Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to land on the moon, plant the U.S. flag on the lunar surface, July 20, 1969. VOA

That same month, Blue Origin unveiled its lander project, Blue Moon.

Now, NASA has provided dozens of pages of specifications that must be met in terms of onboard electronics, communications, and spacesuits.

Any company can reply, not just the 11 shortlisted earlier in the year.

“On the heels of the 50th Anniversary of #Apollo11, we’ve just issued a draft solicitation asking US companies to help us develop the 21st century human landing system that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

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Behind schedule

After receiving the responses, NASA is expected to make a decision in a matter of months as to which company will build the lander and how.

It will be the equivalent of the lunar module that took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969.

NASA, American, Aerospace
U.S. space agency NASA on Monday asked American aerospace companies to offer detailed ideas for vehicles that could bring two astronauts to the moon by 2024. Pixabay

One important difference will be that the lander will berth at a mini moon-orbiting space station, called Gateway, as a kind of port between Earth and the moon. That will allow for the lander to be reused and refueled.

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For now, the Artemis mission is behind schedule, mainly due to delays in the construction of the huge, single-use Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is primarily being made by Boeing. (VOA)