Food & Drink

Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day, and Not Because of Your Health

Contrary to what '90s television commercial slogans would have you believe, the best part of waking up isn't and never was simply Folgers in your cup. The best part of waking up is bacon. It's eggs. It's waffles, and it's sharing a cup of a popular brand of coffee with the people or person who made said waffles. 

So when this piece floated to the surface of the Grey Lady's TheUpshot, dubiously titled "Sorry, There's Nothing Magical About Breakfast," I spit out my Cocoa Puff milk all over my iPhone, and read the words through fits of blinding rage.

Author Aaron E. Carroll's case is backed up with concrete instances of (non-bullshit) studies that disprove the prevailing myths -- eating breakfast helps you lose weight, it helps people focus during the day -- that buoy breakfast above dinner, lunch, brunch, and linner as the "most important meal of the day." But the professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine misses the point. The magic of breakfast has nothing to do with nutritional facts or physiological responses. The magic of breakfast, much like the magic of the seminal 1984 children's classic, The NeverEnding Story, lies inside our hearts.

For one, breakfast can hold weight in many homes as the one meal of the day when a nuclear family can gather to share a meal. This was the case for me, as my parents often worked late, I was at practices of varying interests, and my older brother was off smoking weed and listening to Oasis or whatever teenagers did in the '90s. Our dinners were eaten quickly and often on the run, but in the morning, my parents made it a point to sit us down, give us time to "wake up," and eat together. I can't be alone on this one. 

As dinner becomes an increasingly impersonal affair, with families chowing down silently by the glowing warmth of a plasma screen, it might be time to focus on breakfast as the time when households can break bread.

Or, you know, Pop-Tarts! Because breakfast allows us to eat food we would never get to indulge in otherwise. And it's the best food. Let's run down the batting order of breakfast stalwarts: cereal, pancakes, eggs, bacon, waffles, Pop-Tarts, French toast, hash browns, toast... MOTHERFUCKING BREAKFAST SANDWICHES. It's a Murderers' Row of food everyone loves. If there were a culinary hall of fame, most of these would be first-ballot shoo-ins. Of course these are not healthy for you, but few of life's true pleasures are.

Also, without getting too deep into socioeconomic issues here, eating a hearty morning meal is super important for people who work jobs that require manual labor all day. I spend most of my day craning in front of a screen, but for the Salt of the Earth, eating a breakfast full of protein (and some salt of the Earth) is integral to functioning. And it's the reason we eat bacon and eggs and things like that for breakfast in the first place.

Lastly, a morning commute, whether done on soul-crushingly packed highways or in sardine-esque public transportation situations, can be the most stressful part of any day. Hanger is real. Do you know how many instances of road rage could have been averted had breakfast been consumed? I can think of 40 instances off the top of my head -- and they all involve me. 

I'm passionate about breakfast -- what it means, and the exquisitely simple pleasures it brings into our bleak, basically insignificant lives. The theme song to the mid-'80s seminal classic, The Breakfast Club, memorably urges the listener, "Don't you forget about me." And even though the movie really had nothing to do with breakfast (its one major flaw, IMO), it's definitely relevant.

Fuck health. Screw focus. Don't forget about breakfast. Or its bacon grease-soaked, family-binding, manual labor-facilitating, road rage-decreasing magic. 

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He cried a little while writing this. Follow him: @wilfulton.