Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – or so our parents would have us believe. Regardless, a good breakfast is truly a great way to start the day. Here are five of the best ways to go about the process and a little information about how they got that way. Bon appetit!
Pancakes – In one form or another, pancakes have been around for over three thousand years. Still, it took the invention of self-rising flour and two 19th century marketers from the Quaker Oats Company to make pancakes a quintessentially American breakfast food. The first ready-made pancake mix was introduced in 1889 and immediately became a sensation. The company and its founder would eventually reap huge rewards from the recipe.
Engish muffins – Samuel Bath Thomas, an Englishman, arrived in New York City in 1875 with little more than his mother’s recipe for “tea muffins.” He began work as a lowly dough preparer, but in five short years he would buy his own bakery, where he started serving the delicious baked good that still bears his name. It may seem odd, but the muffin didn’t actually take on his name – Thomas’ English muffins – until several years after his death. It seems that Mr. Thomas was a quite humble and devout man – it was his family that finally made the change.
French toast – Known for centuries in Europe as “pain perdu” – that’s “lost bread” to you and me – this breakfast staple first appeared as French toast in the late 19th century. Various incarnations exist, depending on the region of the country where it is served. Up north, maple syrup covers a relatively unseasoned bread while down South, thyme and marjoram flavor the bread and a vanilla and cream-based sauce is used.
Eggs Benedict – Despite its European-sounding name, eggs Benedict is a quintessentially American breakfast dish that consists of two halves of the aforementioned English muffin – each topped with Canadian bacon, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. It was purportedly created by Oscar Tschirky, the maitre d’ of the Waldorf Hotel in lower Manhattan around 1894. These days, this egg dish has been modified to include anything and everything, from salmon, chorizo and blood sausage to Bordelaise sauce.
Waffles – Believe it or not, the bon vivant and third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, introduced waffles to this country. Jefferson was a tireless innovator and tinkerer who brought the first waffle iron into his home at Monticello. Guests were so enamored of the pastry that they soon bought their own irons. Eventually, street vendors would prepare them, slather them with maple syrup or molasses and sell them to the public.
Grape juice – Undoubtedly, the ancient Romans knew about grape juice – and even more about wine! – but it took a doctor, Thomas Welch, to invent an “unfermented wine” in 1869. This development allowed Dr. Welch and his fellow teetotalers of the day to attend church and receive the Eucharist without imbibing real wine. While the local pastors of the day were unimpressed with the juice, Welch’s son would successfully market it across the United States.