Tuesday, November 10, 2009

scandal at the breakfast table

You know what else isn't Breakfast, Guest Committee Member David Ells? HAVING TWO IDENTITIES.

You may remember, breakfast loyalists, David Ells' debut as a Guest Committee Member last month. At the time, the Committee deeply appreciated his elegant and thorough rebuttal to Skeptical in Saskatchewan's accusations against the substantiality of the Committee. We still appreciate that. However, The What Is Breakfast Committee was recently contacted for an interview by the Associated Press, who had apparently been leaked some shocking information:

David Ells, who so tidily responded to Skeptical in Saskatchewan's hate mail, is actually, himself, in fact, really, Skeptical in Saskatchewan.

I hate to be the bearer of sad tidings, but it was important to the Committee that you find out from us first. I apologise for any heartbreak or unnecessary soul searching this may cause. The Committee assures you that they are participating with you in this process of grief and recovery, although they are admittedly somewhat flattered that someone would feel so convicted about their unfairness to Breakfast that they would take on another personality in an elaborate plan of retraction. (Although, if it were us, we would probably just, y'know, print a retraction.)

Despite this new information, The Committee stands by any and all Breakfast determinations to which David Ells/Skeptical has previously contributed. His position as a Guest Committee Member is undecided, pending a psych eval.

Dear W(I)BC,

Is a Clif Bar(registered trademark), a banana, and not-corporate coffee considered Breakfast? Mind you, the coffee was made in a french press, which I think is more breakfasty.

Anonymous in Andersonville (but not anonymous, just don't look at the email address, k?)

Jessy: Holy @#!$, Anonymous - That IS Breakfast! The Committee is proud.

However, you still don't get breakfast points for any of the things you think you should get breakfast points for.

(GCM) David Ells: I'm glad you pointed out the fact that Clif Bar is a registered trademark. As you know, our policy is very strict on the issue of trademarked brands. WIBC's online publication will run this query unedited, but all print, broadcast and mimeographed versions will replace "Clif Bar" with BRAND NAME REMOVED DUE TO TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT.

Trademark infringement is Not Breakfast. Your meal that morning is Breakfast.

The Committee Is Pleased to Announce:

A banana, a cup of french-pressed coffee, and a trademarkly-infringed Clif Bar(TM) Is Breakfast.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009


Attention, What Is Breakfast Committee fans and loved ones! Today is a very big day in the life of continuing Breakfast studies, as today marks the return of original Co-chair Chanelle! The co-chairs are being reunited in determination form for the first time in over a year, and are very glad to see each other. We are delighted to have Chanelle back with us, and honoured that she would take time out of her busy PhDing schedule to consult with us on a topic entirely unrelated to the field of Victorian literature.

Hurrah! And now let's hurry on to the query before she has to get back to reading "Dracula." (Not Breakfast, p.s.)

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

Is the bible with a side of Jesus and self-flagellation, followed by a banana and Green Tea breakfast?


Jessy: The banana and green tea seems like Breakfast, if a bit Skimpy. (Breakfast Lite, perhaps.) The What Is Breakfast Committee is a non-religious organization that cannot comment on the appropriateness of Bible and/or Jesus with Breakfast, unless "Jesus" is a euphemism for red wine and unleavened bread. (In which case: Unleavened Bread Is Breakfast. Red Wine Is Not Breakfast.) I would, however, like to point out that self-flagellation has proven ill-effects on the digestive system, and should be ingested with caution.

While the Bible itself often refers to spiritual revelation as "food" (cf. 1 Cor. 10:3-4, Heb. 5:12-4), this is widely held to be a clever deployment of metaphor. Metaphor, of course, deriving from the Latin metaphora (meaning to "carry over"), is a figure of speech that compares two essentially unlike things, claiming the one to be the other. Metaphor, then, constitutes a logical fallacy meant to bring to the fore the characteristic shared by the two. Thus, the Bible, while like food, is not actually food. So, the Bible is Not Breakfast. And, for the record, metaphor, while a primary building block of poetry and all other good things under the sun, is also Not Breakfast.

Jessy: Excellent points, my dear Co-chair. Upon further consideration, I'd also like to add that although Jesus is known as "The Bread of Life," He is also a person. And, as previously discussed, Cannibalism is Not Breakfast.

To sum up:

Unleavened Bread is Breakfast. Red Wine is Not Breakfast. Self-flagellation is Not Breakfast. The Bible is Not Breakfast. Metaphor is Not Breakfast. Cannibalism is Not Breakfast. A Banana and Green Tea Is Breakfast, But You Will Probably Be Hungry In Like An Hour And A Half.

Monday, October 19, 2009

During the What Is Breakfast Breakfast Committee's long months of silence (a very dark period in the lives of the Breakfast-challenged), we received one or two derogatory and/or threatening e-mails from former fans who were understandably disappointed by our quietude. At the time, it was difficult to know how to respond, as the best response seemed to be to resume our answers to legitimate Breakfast queries. But now that we have moved past that time of fasting, the Committee feels that it is time to start directly responding to these accusations. Today I will do so with the help of Filmmaker and Guest Committee Member David Ells (aka "Conscientious in Concord"), who I felt could be more objective in this situation than a Co-chair.

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

Is the "What is Breakfast Committee" a real breakfast committee or do you
just pose as one for a few days out of the year when you're bored? For example, do you meet regularly (at least bi-weekly)? Do you benefit the community with special events or contests? DO YOU EAT BREAKFAST??

Skeptical in Saskatchewan

Hello Sassy,

I haven’t decided whether or not whining questions from petulant children is breakfast, so I cannot yet give a verdict on this inquiry. But I can certainly answer your questions.
The “What is Breakfast Committee” has long taken pride in its perfectly attended meetings. Meetings take place once daily shortly after breakfast. It is during these meetings that we hold one another accountable to true breakfast as well as review all letters of inquiry. Meetings last for approximately 3 hours and are followed by rigorous oral hygiene.

As far as the community goes, we take part in the annual Box Tops For Education drive as well as the weekly Granola For Grandmas. We have no contests.


David Ells

Dear Skeptical:

I don't feel it necessary to add to Guest Committee Member Ells's verbal response, which did an excellent job of covering the full scope of what we do here at The What Is Breakfast Committee. However, I would like to offer you some photographic evidence in support of his statement, which I hope will reassure you as to the seriousness of the Committee's pursuit of Breakfast:

Co-chair Chanelle enjoying a three-hour Committee meeting, pre-oral-hygiene.


Co-chair Jessy is proud to benefit the community by supporting worthy local breakfast joint, "Le Peep."


In summation,
The What Is Breakfast Committee Is a Real Breakfast Committee.


Jessy, Co-chair, The What Is Breakfast Committee

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee,

Is a quad-shot Caramel Machiato and a Cinammon Chip Scone breakfast?

Is it breakfast if it causes a bowel movement?

Anonymous (Jason)

The Committee Is Pretty Sure They Just Answered This. (Minus the scatological concerns, which frankly they would prefer to leave out of it.) The Committee nonetheless thanks Anonymous for their persistent interest in Breakfast.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear What is Breakfast Committee,

Does a large Caramel High Rise from Caribou Coffee and a Cinnamon Scone count as breakfast? Might I add, the Carmel High Rise has caramel drizzle that then sinks to the bottom adding this intensely delicious sediment layer that must be consistently sifted for maximum enjoyment. So some work is involved in this breakfast endeavor. I also walked 4 blocks from the train stop to get to said breakfast. Does any exercise prior to consumption help with your impending judgment?

Faithfully Unhealthy in the Morning,
Anonymous (Jason)

Jessy: A cinnamon scone, though not possessing any of the nutritional value that a Breakfast should ideally possess, is still a traditional breakfast food. Also, a coffee (if that is indeed a coffee that Anonymous is describing - it could just be caramel and milk, which is kind of gross) could be considered a traditional breakfast accompaniment, although not a traditional stand-alone food by any means. So the question that now arises is, are traditional breakfast foods still Breakfast after they have been bastardized by an overuse of frostings, caramels, and possibly even some whipped cream? Is a breakfast without any nutritional value still Breakfast? Also, perhaps the weight of the decision should remain on the scone, given that coffee is a chameleon drink that can be comfortable in many different types of meals and situations. Although I am personally inclined to take away some Breakfast Points for the lovingly-described sugary sediment in the bottom of the cup, which seems to suggest more Dessert of Breakfast than Breakfast, I don't want to overstep my role as a Committee Member. At the moment, I'm leaning towards A Nutritionally Defunct Facsimile of Breakfast.

Also, on an unrelated side note: four blocks is not very far.

Stacie: Five years ago I would have said, "Of course it's breakfast, you're eating it in the morning." In the present I say, "Wow, that's a lot of sugar in your coffee. But the scone has cinnamon." In the future, I'd say, "Do you know what breakfast means?" And to the future me I'd present that breakfast is literally "breaking the fast." So of course this and really all things that you consume after a long period of time not eating something is breakfast. This, however, is a very sugary breakfast.

Final vote: I don't know what breakfast is anymore and you should next time just eat a cup of sugar for breakfast. Or an apple.

Jessy: Okay, having further checked out the Caramel High Rise (Copyright Caribou Coffee), I have determined that this drink does involve espresso, but also appears to contain a much higher quantity of whipped cream than is traditionally present with Breakfast. It does, however, contain a fifth of the average human's recommended daily calories, which, combined with the typical caloric count of a scone from this same location, equals at least 40% of the daily recommended intake. So it's possible that this is not only breakfast, but also lunch.

With that in mind,
The Committee's Final Decision Is:

Stacie Is Fired.

(Oh, and yeah, That's Breakfast.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

I went to a restaurant called "Chicken and Waffles." For dinner I ate one deliciously crunchy chicken breast with one amazingly huge waffle with butter and syrup on the side (all on the same plate). Not really knowing what to do with this, my husband and I cut the chicken, cut the buttered waffle and dipped it in the syrup all at once! It was quite yummy but confusing. They do serve this same meal during breakfast. But is this REALLY breakfast?

- Also Confused in Chicago

Jessy: Wow. Chicago must be a confusing place to eat breakfast. It's a good thing we sent one of the Co-chairs there; otherwise, the whole city might have to go Breakfastless. (Oh, the horror!) Come to think of it, maybe the real reason why she is so busy has nothing to do with a PhD program? My co-ch
airy suspicions are aroused.

What was I talking about? Breakfast. Right. Well, basically, we're encountering the classic "wacky combination" problem. Although some fried foods are Breakfast, and some meat products are Breakfast, fried chicken is Not Even A Little Bit Breakfast. But a waffle is Always Breakfast (and sometimes lunch and sometimes dinner - but, as we've discussed before, there's a reason I wasn't nominated for those committees). But you ate them together! What a dilemma.

Although, really, I know in my heart what my vote must be:
Chicken and Waffles Are Possibly Yummy But Not Breakfast, That Is Crazy.

(Footnote: I mean, what if I made scrambled eggs and topped them with a fruit roll-up? Or granola topped with a pork chop? Would you consider that Breakfast? Y'know what, don't answer that.)

...Now, for this particular query, I felt the need to call on a Guest Committee Member who has significant cultural and geographical ties to a region whose eating habits are shrouded in mystery for me. The obvious answer was Julie, a young lady who offers not only the advantage of long-term residence in the greater Chicago area, but also the qualities of being awesome and being affianced to my brother, Jordan. I'll put the rest of the introduction into her more than capable hands:

Julie: Well, I’m not in a PhD program, I do bring some Chicago-area expertise to the table. (Whether that table is a Breakfast Table remains to be determined.) Plus, I haven’t skipped breakfast since I was in 7th grade. (I had thick bangs and wasn’t eating breakfast. I’m not proud of either, but I’ve moved on.)

This is quite the dilemma and, in most regions, I’d agree that this would be a “wacky combination” problem. Here in ol’ Chicago(land), however, I’d say that it’s ultimately an issue of gang wars. Or corrupt politics. And maybe a little nepotism.

Here’s what we know: Waffles are Certainly Breakfast and fried chicken is Undeniably Lunch/Dinner. So, the question comes down to this: Are waffles more breakfast-y than fried chicken is lunch/dinner-ish? The answer is: Yes. Fried chicken has split its allegiance between Lunch and Dinner, so it no longer has the power to pull waffles down from the Office of Breakfast. Think Bull Moose Party, but with Waffles instead of Woodrow Wilson.

Vote: Waffles and Fried Chicken are Absolutely Breakfast, But It’s a Delicate Balance and Waffles Better Watch Its Back.

The Committee Has Reached Something of a Split Decision:

Waffles are Breakfast. Chicken is Not Breakfast. Chicken and Waffles Together are Somewhere Between Not Breakfast and Absolutely Breakfast, But Are Definitely A More Politically-Charged Meal Than Expected.

Well, I guess not even the What Is Breakfast Committee has all the answers, kids. It must be a fallen world after all.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Get excited, breakfast fanatics! We have another Guest Host joining us today, all the way from the glamorous suburbs of Chicago! It is my pleasure to introduce today's guest committee member, Jordan S:
Jordan has the distinction of being the very first person to send in a What Is Breakfast query that actually turned out to be Breakfast. He has also personally taken Co-Chair Jessy to many excellent Breakfast Joints in the greater Chicago area. (Did you know that they have a great pancake place there? You might have heard of it. It's international. Kind of a house of sorts.) You can look for him and his hot, breakfast-eating fiancee as co-chairs of the upcoming, much-anticipated What Is A Date Committee.
Now that Jordan's impressive credentials have earned him your unwavering trust and loyalty, let's get to a query that has been oh-so-patiently waiting for a response...

Dear Esteemed community of breakfasters,

My mother gives me gifts in the form of Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars
quite often. I liked them at first but quickly tired of them. (CONFESSION: I don't even eat breakfast anymore!) Now I give them away to guests and even bring them to parties sometimes in the effort to rid myself of them. Despite my efforts there remains a sizable pile of boxes in my pantry.

It has occurred to me that I could tell my mother that I don't like them anymore, but if they are truly breakfast bars I feel I should continue to indulge her in the hopes that one day I might actually eat breakfast.

So, prodigious bread-breakers, can you tell me if Nature Valley Crunchy
Granola Bars are indeed breakfast?

Conscientious in Concord

Jessy: I'm going to have to say that a Nature's Valley Crunchy Granola Bar is Breakfast. However, I would like Conscientious to be aware that nothing-for-breakfast is Not Breakfast. Also, the half of the committee that has been to Conscientious's apartment would like to know why they were never offered a Nature's Valley Crunchy Granola Bar. How far does this anti-breakfast prejudice extend?

Final vote: Breakfast.

Jordan: It's Breakfast, but might require an early lunch.

Final vote: Breakfast.

The Committee's Final Decision Is:

Nature's Valley Crunchy Granola Bar is Breakfast. Nothing is Not Breakfast.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

Is toast with swiss cheese and avocado considered breakfast?

Confused and Hungry at Home

Jessy: Confused and Hungry, I have to admit: that sounds delicious. I sure hope it's Breakfast, because I'm probably going to make it tomorrow morning.

Although swiss cheese and avocado are often used as ingredients in both lunch and dinner, they are also something you could easily find in a Committee-approved morning omelet. When you combine that with toast (a member of breakfast in good standing), I think we have a Breakfast on our hands.

Final vote: A Delicious Breakfast

Stacie: Dear Confused and Hungry,

I won't know if that's breakfast until you come over to my house tomorrow and make it. Please do so pronto.

In case you can't make it, however: if it has avocado, it's breakfast.

Final vote: Avocado is Breakfast.

The Committee's Final Decision Is:

Toast With Swiss Cheese and Avocado Is Breakfast.
Whether or not Avocado is Breakfast Was Not Exactly the Question.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As many of our loyal fans have so kindly pointed out, there has not been a What Is Breakfast Committee meeting for some time now. The truth is, the Kathie Lee to my Regis (Chanelle) is a PhD student, and that commitment unfortunately has drawn her away from the hallowed halls of Breakfast. Consider it a sabbatical without any specific end in sight. Now, I'm not looking for a Kelly Ripa (dear god, when will this analogy end?), but I would like to bring some Guest Host Committee Members on board, so that we can get the judgments rolling again. Any feedback as to their breakfasty performance would be appreciated. But please be polite (, Jordan and David). And bear in mind that these kind-hearted folks are not trained breakfast-determination professionals like Chanelle and myself.

That said, let's introduce today's guest host: Stacie W!
Although Stacie does not often eat breakfast herself, she is adept at taking photos of breakfast, and filming people who are making and/or talking about breakfast. (She is, in fact, director and editor of the award-winning "Cooking with Jessypants" web serial.) She also enjoys eating breakfast-approved foods for dinner, with a particular preference for cereal and huevos rancheros.
And now, on to the query...

Dear "What Is Breakfast" Committee,

My friend and I have an ongoing dispute about the exceptional nature of breakfast following a night spent amongst friends. While he argues that the essential food and customs of breakfast are immutable, I hold that in the afterglow of a New Year's Eve or reunion party, it is wholly acceptable to indulge in a breakfast with personality: a breakfast that proclaims and reaffirms all that is good about parties, sprinkles, icing, confetti and the color blue. The breakfast to which I refer is, of course, that of Mayfield's Birthday Cake Ice Cream. While neither nutritious nor particularly fitting for such an early hour in any other circumstance, it seems a shame to simply eat cereal after waking up after only two hours of sleep because no one could stop talking (or playing games or watching scary movies) the night before. Barring a trip to Waffle House (which is better done in the wee small hours of the morning anyway), Birthday Cake Ice Cream is a breakfast both satisfying and in keeping with the atmosphere of the sleepover. As a small practical point in my favor, it is also a dairy product -- doesn't that count for something? In the absence of someone who has the skill and energy to make cinnamon rolls, it is not only allowable but desirable to resort to a frozen dessert of the caliber of ice cream that also claims to be cake. Because, really, toast or eggs would just kill the mood.

An Endorser of the Exceptional Breakfast

Stacie: Dear Endorser of the Exceptional Breakfast (and it sounds like it is),

Are we talking about an ice cream cake? Or cake that looks like ice cream or ice cream in the shape of a cake? Anyway it goes, it sounds like it does have some noteworthy ingredients that would make it possibly breakfast. Dairy is in fact, great for calcium, as are eggs (if any part of this is real cake but now that I'm thinking about it, it's probably just ice cream cake). Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of sugar involved. And while I'm not one to go against sugar by any means, I'm guessing this has more sugar than the normal sugared cereal, which then makes my vote as such:

Final Vote: Not Breakfast. But it's probably a good breakfast accompaniment.

Jessy: Endorser, I'm glad to hear about your lively circle of friends and your admirable enthusiasm for life. I can definitely understand your reluctance to "kill the mood" after an impromptu sleepover. But you know what really kills the mood? Type 2 Diabetes. Make an omelet.

Final vote: Not Breakfast.

The Committee's Final Decision Is:

Mayfield's Birthday Cake Ice Cream is Not Even a Little Bit Like Breakfast.
And Stacie may need a nutritional consultant.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In lieu of another determination, please feel free to view this video, shot by the great Stacie Wilhelm, in which one half of the What Is Breakfast Committee discusses the menu at an all-day-breakfast joint called Toast:

(In case you were curious, the pronounced lisp that may be heard in this short film/documentary is the result of an allergic reaction contracted by said committee member, which caused her tongue to swell up and overlap her teeth*. Her speech impediment is not normally this obvious.)

*I am not even joking.