Breaking Down Breakfast

Posted February 8, 2022 by Alyssa Stahr

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We’ve all heard it. But, is it? 

The line was first heard as a slogan in the 19th century by Kellogg’s, naturally to sell its new breakfast cereal. Marketers latched onto the saying, but nutritionists have as well for a number of reasons. The majority of us sleep at night, and barring any midnight snacking, that’s the longest period of the 24-hour day that we don’t eat. Foods traditionally served at breakfast are meant to supply energy, aid in alertness and boost metabolism. 

But, how many of us are hungry — or want a nap — after a carbolicious load of croissants, pancakes or cereal? How many of us skip breakfast altogether, opting for a cup of coffee to start our day? Is breakfast in the traditional sense really the most important meal? The evolution of breakfast is a story that can be told by analyzing the slogan itself.


Bakery and Snacks reported that more than half of consumers say they do not eat a full breakfast in a sit-down capacity. In fact, they’re not even calling this particular feeding time breakfast! Market research company IRI polled consumers and found some unique alternative terms: 

  • 31% — mini/small breakfast
  • 23% — full breakfast
  • 21% — morning snack
  • 17% — morning fuel up

For product developers who still subscribe to a heartier meal in the a.m., there’s hope. 52% of consumers said they make breakfast from “scratch,” (yes heat and eat and pre-packaged options are included) more frequently on the weekend. And, almost three-fourths will take a true break and sit down to eat.


Traditional breakfast eaters still have a voice! There still is an importance in eating first thing in the morning, according to IRI. 95% of consumers reported eating during the morning six days a week on average. 20% of grocery spending is on “breakfast food,” but frozen breakfast foods are king, which led category growth. So, we’re eating at that time, but not necessarily at the table as outlined above.


Three square meals a day — breakfast included — may be a thing of the past. Mondelez International’s State of Snacking report showed that 64% of consumers 18 and over in 12 global markets prefer to eat small meals throughout the day. Convenience and freshness impact snacking choices most in the poll, followed by indulgence, healthy, energizing and unique. Even through this ever-evolving notion, we are still creatures of habit in many ways. 78% of those polled by IRI said they prefer to stick to the same morning foods they’ve always eaten, while 22% are ready for experimentation in their meals.


The definition of snacking for those polled by Mondelez have changed. Snackers that fall into the Gen Z category are more likely to snack to relieve anxiety and boredom; millennials snack to meet nutritional needs and Gen X need a snack most likely to seek comfort in food. These occasions happen at all parts of the day, and more than three-fourths said they eat different snacks today than three years ago. 

So, what type of breakdown do you subscribe to during your morning fuel up? No matter what foods you eat or the reasons, I think we can all agree that breakfast may not be the most important meal, but it certainly is one of the most delicious. 

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