Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but mid-morning snacking is way cooler. A recent study by the Hartman Group (a consumer research company) found that while the pandemic pushed many Americans to adopt more of a standard-three-meal-a-day eating schedule, the shift out of pandemic mode (dear god, please don’t let this jinx it) has had the opposite effect. People are late-night and early-morning snacking instead of eating a full breakfast during the socially accepted designated breakfasting window.
Now, I don’t know about you, but before the pandemic, breakfast for me was always on the go. I would grab the nearest Pop-Tart or granola bar and then hightail it out the door faster than you can say, “Jessica, you wouldn’t have to rush to get to class on time if you just woke up 30 minutes earlier.” Does that mean I was an “early-morning snacker” or does that just mean I was eating an un-nutritious breakfast? I think this study would qualify me as the former. If that’s the case, I totally understand the shift that’s happening now.
People are actually getting out of the house in the mornings, after two-ish years of not having to do that. That means if people were rushing before the pandemic, I would guess they are even more rushed and unprepared now. Also, the pandemic made people used to their kitchens being right there, ready to provide a full meal at any given break in the day. Now, when people remember at the last minute that they need to bring a lunch, they are probably more likely to throw a few snacks in their bag for later and get on with it.
Now, most of this is just me guessing at what could be causing the shift towards snacks instead of breakfast and lunch. As for the increase in late-night snacking, my best guess is that it has to do with people finally going out again. Getting home late calls for a lil’ pre-bedtime snickiddy snack. Not sure that would ruin my breakfast appetite, though.
Essentially, I don’t think breakfast as an institution has anything to worry about. While people may be shifting away from having a Full English on a Wednesday (if they were ever doing that in the first place), I don’t think breakfast itself will be left in the dust. The foods associated with it are too good (eggs! cereal! waffles! pizza!), the iconic “most important meal” schtick will be around forever. It’s not breakfast that’s disappearing, it’s the free time in which breakfast would be eaten. Or, you know, we could just get up earlier.
H/T Food Navigator