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How Brunch Became an American Staple

Chances are good that a majority of the U.S. population has sat down for brunch at one time or another, but how many have sat and thought about the origins of the late-morning meal?

The word “brunch” – coined in the late 19th century – quite obviously smashes the words “breakfast” and “lunch” together, although the food around which everyone gathers tends to lean toward breakfast.

As with all traditions, opinions differ on the exact genesis of the phenomenon that enjoyed a wildly popular era in the 1930s, made a resurgence in the 1980s, and came back again in the last decade or so, at least in American society, with brunch-centric chains and independent eateries popping up across the country.

Opinions also diverge on when brunch should occur; the time frame reaches from 10 a.m. all the way to 4 p.m., but many devotees seem to have settled on a sweet spot of 11 a.m. That’s because, according to a handful of stories, it’s shortly after church services let out, with one source,, saying brunch came about as a result of “early-morning pre-church fasting” by Catholics. Others argue that English huntsmen invented the occasion when they returned home famished from trudging through the woods. However it began, it currently sees no end: brunch has proven to have staying power.

It’s most definitely more of a social occasion than at least breakfast, and usually takes place in a public setting more than it does in a home. Brunch originated as an event that mostly took place on weekends (especially Sunday), and many restaurants still abide by that custom, but the rules have decidedly become relaxed over the years.

An article in the food and decor magazine Southern Living, claims brunch as “a long-standing Southern tradition,” but points out that the meal has been popular for well over 100 years in New York City, and was a common reason for jet-setting movie stars to stop over in Chicago during cross-country rail trips. Duffers have also long favored a light spread after finishing an early-morning round, which could be why some connect it with a more posh crowd.

What are some of the foods most commonly associated with brunch? Eggs Benedict, quiche, breakfast casseroles, fruit platters and omelets are definite staples, according to the almighty Food Network, and, if we’re being completely honest – and we have no reason not to be – mimosas and bloody marys!

Etiquette and attire vary widely, from one’s Sunday best to, of course, gaudy plaid golf pants. Regardless of how people choose to enjoy brunch, its ability to catch on with a wide audience means it will continue to satisfy post-breakfast and pre-lunch hunger pangs for years to come.

By Chris Michlewicz



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