Eggs and bacon have been a classic American breakfast pairing for decades! This meal gets the day started through a major dose of protein and can be paired with many other breakfast foods like toast, home fries or pancakes. Why has this combination stood the test of time?
Understanding the Role of Breakfast
Starting in the Middle Ages, religious organizations encouraged morning fasting to restrict widespread gluttony. Meals were scheduled for the afternoon and evening, yet not everyone followed this rule. Particularly, laborers and those needing energy for the first half of the day.
By the 17th century, doctors started to recommend morning meals, which is why breakfast is often dubbed “the most important meal of the day”.
From this foundation, eggs and bacon were paired together for somewhat false health reasons, as well as significant advertising.
Starting in the 1920s, the Beach Nut company sought to build up momentum around bacon and hired an advertising agency to increase its popularity. Up until this point, most Americans ate breakfast but opted for a lighter meal.
Beach Nut encouraged its company doctor to tout the importance of a heavier meal at the start of the day. The supposed reasoning? Our energy declines at night and the body requires more fuel for the day ahead. A survey of 5,000 other physicians supported the statements of Beach Nut’s internal doctor. In response, sales for bacon started to increase.
What About Eggs?
Eggs were already known as a fueling food, particularly for farm workers. As an added benefit, they provided protein at a lower cost than meat. While eggs became a working person’s meal during the Industrial Revolution, their inclusion with breakfast goes back to the Romans, who supposedly consumed eggs for nutrition and cognitive-enhancing effects.
While the pairing of eggs and bacon held strong for most of the 20th century, the combination reflects a history of meat and eggs as a meal going back to Medieval times.
Of these, the now-classic American breakfast mimics the English breakfast, which includes eggs over easy or medium, ham or bacon, beans, toast, mushrooms, tomato and blood sausage. Fried potatoes may also be added.
English breakfasts started among the upper classes and trickled their way down to the lower classes as a working person’s meal.
As the fifth flavor type, umami was discovered in the early 20th century and is defined as a reaction to the glutamate and nucleotide molecules present in certain foods. Combining these two compounds essentially maximizes the flavor attributes of glutamate, a type of amino acid. Some foods have both, like mushrooms but in other cases, food pairings achieve this effect.
Bacon and eggs bring these attributes together – bacon providing the nucleotide molecules and eggs with the glutamate molecules.
Today, the preparation of bacon further enhances its umami attributes. Curing, which involves applying salts and smoking over a fire, improves the meat’s chemical reaction and adds a mix of nutty, buttery, earthy and sweet flavors.
Taste all the ways you can enjoy egg and bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Colony Diner! Explore our menu today.