How All-Day Breakfast Is Changing The Way We Eat

It’s no longer just a trend—all-day breakfast is here to stay. The National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast reported that 72 percent of adults want restaurants to serve all-day breakfast. There’s even a new term celebrating this dining tribe:  Breakfastarians, which has been embraced by restaurants like IHOP and is filtering into advertising. Diners, c-stores and all manner of eateries are taking note, updating menus and adjusting purchase orders in an effort to meet customer demand. But what effect is this national movement having on the way we eat?

How Breakfast Differs From Other Meals

Breakfast is often regarded as fuel for the day, and as such, tends to deliver more calories than other meals. According to 1960s nutritionist Adelle Davis, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” This may be the key to the popularity of breakfast all day—lots of calories, delivered quickly. The traditional theory may have been related to timing, since a calorie-rich meal, eaten early, could be successfully digested by afternoon or evening. Breakfast food tends to be higher in fat, salt and sugar—three reasons for its growing popularity. However, today’s dining crowd also seems to want nutrition along with the option to indulge. And since the Breakfastarian demographic often overlaps with the more health-conscious Millennial generation, demand for healthier breakfast options is on the rise.

A Healthy Start (And Finish) to The Day

Customers are responding positively to more creative vegetable choices—kale, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower and the like—that are just as easily incorporated into omelets and hash entrées as such classic ingredients as onions, potatoes and tomatoes. The good news for restaurants is, the new generation seems to have no qualms paying extra for these premium or less-typical ingredients. They are also interested in expanding into a more ethnic-influenced diet—the general popularity of breakfast has forced chefs to start thinking outside the box and reach for the sriracha instead of the ketchup.

The effect of ingredients like these on breakfast recipes? To make them more creative. A recent survey by the TODAY Show discovered that 7 out of 10 of their viewers responded positively to stories like “50 different breakfast bowls” and “5 things to do with bananas,” adding an innovative twist to old breakfast standbys. Alongside customers’ interest in having breakfast all day is a demand to make it fresh and exciting.

The Cereal Killer?

Speaking of old standbys, all-day breakfast has put a dent in the time-honored practice of pouring oneself a bowl of cereal—a 2016 Nielsen survey found that egg and yogurt sales are up and ready-to-eat cereal sales down, which may reflect a general increase in popularity of on-the-go foods such as a container of yogurt, or the classic breakfast sandwich, its status as the king of fast-food breakfast items still unquestioned, which nearly always contains eggs or egg whites.

Cereal, once ubiquitous, seems to have lost out to convenience in the breakfast-food wars—even ready-to-eat cereal isn’t very portable, which, in today’s fast culture, may account for its recent dip in popularity—a steady decline over the last 15 years—ironic enough when one considers that cereal itself was once the answer to a demand for more convenience.