Monday, November 25, 2013

Cheese, Buzzfeed, and Breakfast: PART 1 OF 2

The Committee is pleased as breakfast punch to introduce our new Guest Committee Member, Dis, a west-coast Breakfast Advocate who will be assisting us with this important, two-part query:

Dear Committee: 

A recent Buzzfeed article* offered several alt-mac-'n'-cheese recipes, including Mac 'N' Cheese Pancakes and something called Breakfast Mac.  

Are Mac-Cakes Breakfast? Is Breakfast Mac Breakfast? Or must I choose sides between Buzzfeed and Breakfast?

Concerned Buzzfeed Breakfaster

Dear Concerned Buzzfeed Breakfaster,

First off, thank you for your inquiry. Without concerned (potential) Breakfasters like you, we would not be here to serve the community in the best way we know howthrough defining the Breakfast choices of others. 

You have posed a query concerning two parts: mac and cheese pancakes, and "making mac and cheese for Breakfast." But, let us not forget the title of this article: "3 Extra-Crispy Ways to Eat Mac 'N' Cheese." The intent of this article is to convince its readers to somehow eat macaroni and cheese in some godless manner, by deviating from the standard blue box and making it extra crispy. The Kraft dinosaur from the blue box would be disappointed in you. 

If I were less lazy, that would be photoshopped to be a thumbs down. 

Needless to say, these dishes begin in an already tenuous position for making their case to be Breakfast. Let's address the two questions in turn, shall we, Concerned? (Co-chair note: The second part of this answer must be withheld till next week's query, due to time constraints. Stay tuned!)

1.   Mac 'N' Cheese Pancakes

First things first: the article defines this dish as pancakes, but describes macaroni and cheese, breaded, then fried. Since it attempts to define itself as a pancake, it raises a question we may take for granted: What truly is a pancake? Let's keep it simpletake it away, Merriam Webster. 
"a thin, flat, round cake that is made by cooking batter on both sides in a frying pan or on a hot surface (called a griddle)."
Fair enough, dictionary. So, do these creations even qualify as pancakes? No, no they do not. There is no batter, only crispy macaroni and cheese. So, despite trying to be shoehorned in to the Great Breakfast Pancake Compromise of 1997, wherein the powers that be treated over eggs, toast, meats, and thin round cakes made by cooking batter on both sides, and determined that even absurd pancakes that are truly just an excuse to eat cupcakes for Breakfast would be counted, the macaroni and cheese "pancake" is Not Breakfast.

But, you say, what about a situation where you have leftover macaroni and cheese pancakes, you re-heat them, and you throw some eggs on top to make it Breakfast? Under the 2013 ruling by Guest Judge Dis, where it was posited that any leftover item with eggs on top shall be considered Breakfast,** it would qualify. However, the recipe itself states: "Eat the pancakes as soon as they are ready for maximum crispiness and cheesy gooeyness." So, dear friend, again, Not Breakfast, as it has disqualified itself from Dis Leftover Exemption. 

Dear CBR,

First of all, never fear: Guest Committee Member Dis didn't fall asleep there. Part 2 of his determination will be brought to you next week, when he addresses the claims of Breakfast Mac!

Secondly, Buzzfeed: Okay, Buzzfeed straightup is not a reliable source of anything. You need to accept that if you're going to make it as a human being. I ran a quick search on the phrase "a recent Buzzfeed article" and two of the top results were "9 Totally Bizarre and Wonderful Fashion Pizzas" and "The 17 Stages of Rainbow Loom Obsession." This is not a place where information goes. This is a place where--

Alright, I just looked at the fashion pizzas and I must admit that I have never before seen that level of precision in cheese placement. Still, worthwhile pizza news coverage aside, Buzzfeed doesn't have the integrity of a place like the What Is Breakfast Committee, which has sworn to protect the name of Breakfast, or die trying. (I'm not sure if our Guest Committee Members are all aware of the severity of the Committee's oath, so this is probably a good time to let them know what they've signed up for.) 

Which is why you can believe me when I say that, for all of the reasons that Guest Committee Member Dis has already mentioned, and because squishing dinner into the shape of a Breakfast food only makes it an impostor, no, Mac-Cakes are Not Breakfast.

The Committee promises you:

Mac-Cakes are Not Breakfast.

And Buzzfeed is not a newspaper.

*At the time of this query.
**According to our minutes and Co-chair Jessy's feelings on the topic, this is not an official What Is Breakfast Committee Determination.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Can Breakfast and Burgers peacefully co-exist?

Dearest Breakfast Committee:

Just read about this in the Chicago Tribune's "Memorable breakfast sandwiches" article, and I'm so confused!
Honey Cafe's breakfast burger 
Love burgers so much you can't wait until breakfast is over and lunch to start? Glen Ellyn's Honey Cafe will scratch that itch. What qualifies this as breakfast is the fried egg and maple syrup-mayo, but the rest is bona fide, all-American hamburger, six ounces of grilled Dietzler Farm beef and applewood-smoked bacon on a Labriola brioche bun. A choice of fries or salad accompanies — for your own good, go with the salad. $12.95, 499 Main St., Glen Ellyn, 630-469-0000,

Please send help,
Just Read About This

Dear Just Read About This,

I understand your perplexed feelings. I, for one, am all in favor of Breakfast burgers, Breakfast pizzas, and pretty much anything else that involves piling fried eggs and bacon on top of other delicious foods.

In fact, I recently had an amazing Breakfast burger, and I highly recommend it, but there are several differences I see here…

Let’s break it down:

1. Bun
The Breakfast burger I had was served on an English Muffin, which is clearly a Breakfast item. Honey’s, however, is served on brioche. Unless converted to French Toast, brioche has no loyalty to the Breakfast table. FAIL.

2. Presence of eggs
Your Breakfast burger in question does, in fact, come topped with a fried egg. PASS.

3. Presence of bacon
Double check. PASS.

4. Spread
Maple syrup mayo, eh? This does contain maple syrup. However, it also contains mayo. Which makes it terrible, and only half Breakfast. DRAW.

5. Sides
My Breakfast burger was served with Breakfast-friendly home fries. Your choices of sides in this case are very lunch-y french fries or a salad, when any self-respecting breakfaster knows: the options should clearly be skillet potatoes or fruit. FAIL.

As you can see, according to my checklist, this is a toss-up. The onus of tiebreaker falls on the customer in this case, with one final item on the list: beverage. If you order an OJ and coffee, I will let this slide as Breakfast. If you order a Coke, just get out.

VERDICT: Maybe Breakfast, if you try. But probably not. Because trying should not be required in Breakfast-eating.

Your Brother in Breakfast,
Guest Committee Member Chad

Just Read About This:

Burgers and Breakfast are sworn enemies. This feud dates back to the Prohibition era, when all things delicious were illegal and the Breakfast and Burger families both depended on illicit sales of their goods to survive. Pa Burger came up with the bright idea to marry his daughter, Bitty Burger, into the Breakfast clan, in hopes that it would save his dying empire. But Father Breakfast knew that the Burger family was running low on quality, black market meat (and also that his son, Roger, did not really love Bitty Burger). So, fearing that the Burgers would eventually ruin the good name of Breakfast, Father Breakfast wisely did not allow the alliance to form.

So, no, it's Not Breakfast.

With condolences,
Co-chair Jessy

The Committee has decided:

A Honey's Cafe Breakfast Burger is Not Breakfast. 

Because Breakfast isn't about trying: It's about history.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Site-specific Breakfast

The What Is Breakfast Committee is joined this week by a new Guest Committee Member, Katie Markovich. Katie enjoys both sandwiches and Breakfast, but she is aware that a sandwich is often Not Breakfast. Having already tackled that imposing Breakfast question in her personal life, I'm sure she is prepared to respond to this complex query from our Boston-area friend below:

To The Committee, 

I had an instinct this should be brought to your attention immediately. 

The Friendly Toast, a nor'easterners favorite, has popped up another location close to me and there is conflicting evidence regarding whether it is in fact Breakfast! The menu is a thick jungle of Breakfast/other vines that seem to entangle the diner without end. Omelets and sweet potato fries with brown sugar & tabasco? Hansel & Gretel Waffles before or after mojito milkshakes? A review named it "one of best Breakfasts in America" in Esquire magazine, by Clive Owen who I believe is British (they serve Egg in the Hole, so you know). Should his celebrity affirmation be trusted, that it is indeed "Breakfast"?

Kindly advise, 
Entangled in Vines
North of Boston

Dear Tangled in Vines,

I would first like to thank you for your inquiry. This is important and I’m glad you had the courage to reach out to us. Every year, thousands of people go without answers to Breakfast questions. The change can begin with you.

You want to know if The Friendly Toast is, indeed, Breakfast. I can already see where you are having a difficult time. When you say “The Friendly Toast,” are you referring to the actual building? Are you referring to The Friendly Toast state of mind? Are you secretly thinking of one specific menu item, harboring the truth from me and from yourself, but then seeking my validation anyway? I don’t know, Tangled in Vines. I was hoping you would be more of a straight-shooter, but I’ve always liked a challenge.

Is The Friendly Toast—located at 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts—Breakfast? No, it is not. Don’t be silly.

Is The Friendly Toast—as it exists in your head—Breakfast? Lest your brains be made of eggs and sausage, then, no, it is not. But! If you freely associate the joys of Breakfast with the feelings you get from going to The Friendly Toast, then I think you might be onto something. I think you’re a dreamer and I like that about you, TiV. I always have.

Is The Friendly Toast—the restaurant that boasts the one menu item you’re thinking of but not telling me—Breakfast? Maybe. I’m not a mind reader.

I decided to further investigate the food items you mentioned by name: omelets, sweet potato fries, Hansel and Gretel waffles, mojito milkshakes. I took to the Internet in search of possible clues, and I stumbled upon (Does anyone use Stumble Upon anymore? Please advise) a web page that appeared to have some kind of affiliation with The Friendly Toast. When I looked closer, I realized that I was able to click on words such as “Breakfast,” “Apps & Salads,” and “Sandwiches, Burritos, & More.” I then began to classify each of the aforementioned menu items in accordance to which header they belonged. I think you should check this out, TiV, it really cleared things up for me. There is even a header called “DRINKS" and, sure enough, that’s where I found that mojito milkshake.

In conclusion, follow the rules of The Friendly Toast. I know you’re at that age where you’re questioning everything and you want to know what it all means, but sometimes the truth is spelled out for you. If it’s listed under Breakfast, it’s Breakfast.

More troubling than your quandary, though, is your assertion that Clive Owen is a celebrity. I recommend writing to They can help you.

I hope this answer has been sufficient enough for you, Tangled in Vines. I know that Breakfast can get tricky, and it can be psychologically damaging to misread the decorum of traditionally “Breakfast-friendly” eateries. We’ve all been the first to order, we get the sandwich and hand-cut fries, and then are met with the shock of realizing everybody else got fancy French toast. “But it’s past noon!” you contest. The other ladies clink their champagne flutes and laugh, gulping back mimosas. “Breakfast is served until three,” the pretty one says. And that’s when it becomes clear: if the menu tells you it’s Breakfast, and that Breakfast is an option, it is time for Breakfast.

In closing, I want you to know that every time I typed “Friendly Toast,” I first typed “Friendly Ghost,” and giggled to myself.

Best of luck in your breakfast journey,
Guest Committee Member Katie

Dear Tangled:

Although the official position of the What Is Breakfast Committee is that there is actually a limit to how late in the day you can have Breakfast and still have it be considered Breakfast, and that there are cases in which menus cannot be trusted, Guest Committee Member Katie has done her research well: The sections of The Friendly Toast's menu that are labeled "Breakfast," "More Breakfast," and "Even More Breakfast," are all compromised of relatively uncontroversial Breakfast foods, such as "Huevos Rancheros" or "Granola." (It does include one omelet that has pecans and something called maple sour cream in it, but it's an omelet so there is not much the Committee can do other than personally refuse to eat it.)

You seem to be in good hands, at least under the eatery's current management.

Co-chair Jessy

The Committee has discovered:

The Friendly Toast Has Correctly Labeled Their Breakfast as Breakfast.

The Committee remains confused about the identity of Clive Owen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

After-Breakfast Dessert?

Dear WIBC, 

How about a bowl of Maple Brown Sugar Life, Fresca Black Cherry Soda, and two Whoopie Pies while reading People Magazine? What do you consider appropriate reading material for breakfast-time? What about the Cereal-to-Whoopie-Pie Ratio? What if the Whoopie Pies were made with Whole Grain flour? Could the Whoopie Pies be considered an after-breakfast dessert? (This was not MY breakfast. It was eaten by someone in whose dietary and intellectual habits I have a vested interest. Is that allowed?) 

-Blake's wife

Guest Committee Member David Death:

What is Breakfast? Before we ask what is breakfast, we must first answer "why is Breakfast?"

Why is Breakfast? Breakfast is to start the @&$!#!% day. Nay, to OWN THE @&$!#!% DAY. To destroy our enemies with speed and precision. We must ATTACK with stealth and cunning, we must be acute and FULL OF @&$!#!% APTITUDE. Because our ENEMIES ARE WAITING. 

So, What is Breakfast? What gives us the power and strength to obliterate the @#!$ out of the day? NUTRITION!  Vitamins and minerals. PROTEINS. MILK. MUSCLES. SLAM DUNKS.

What isn't Breakfast? What doesn't keep you TOUGH AS @#!$  Two cakes separated by HELL. HELL is  a place on earth, and it's made of that white sugary, strength-stealing, white shit in the middle of two gingerbread cakes delicately sprinkled with more sugary white shit. DELICATE IS NOT STRONG. Whoopie? More like Whimpy. THIS MUST NOT GET NEAR YOUR BREAKFAST. 

What are your enemies eating for Breakfast? Whoopie Pies? NO. They crush the biggest Whoopie Pies (1.062 lbs) with their brains while eating BANANAS and PROTEIN and some @&$!#!% JUICE. Did you eat a Whoopie Pie for breakfast? You are WEAK and you will be CRUSHED. You must be strong. Did a loved one eat a Whoopie Pie? THEY ARE WEAK. You are weak because those closest to you are WEAK. They cannot protect you. Some eggs-on-a-bagel-eating $%&!$@#!$!# will SNEAK INTO YOUR DAY and make it AWFUL, because he is your enemy and you are WEAK, but he is STRONG BECAUSE PROTEIN.  

Because this is the most important @&$!#!% meal of the day. 

Recommended reading: THE INGREDIENTS OF PROTEIN.

Co-chair Jessy:

The What Is Breakfast Committee would like to communicate the utmost respect for Vested Interests and Other Forms of Love, and is certainly very happy for you and yours. But, no, that's Not Breakfast, Blake.

The What Is Breakfast Committee is very loud and very certain:

Maple Brown Sugar Life Cereal, Fresca Black Cherry Soda, Two Whoopie Pies, and People Magazine Have Never Been Nor Shall They Ever Be Breakfast.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Second Breakfast Redux

Dear What is Breakfast Committee,

I wasn't that hungry this morning when my Cream of Wheat came to meet me at the breakfast table, so I took a few bites and ran.  Now it's 11:29 and what I did not really do at 7:30 is coming back to haunt me in the form of a raucous stomach chorus.  I am considering eating some peanut butter crackers with some water (it's all I have to drink at work) while listening to Peter, Paul and Mary.  Will this be Breakfast? 

Thanks and a hearty handshake!

Dear Breakfaster,

I am delighted to receive a question for which I can deliver such a confident verdict. I must refer you to Guest Committee Member Steve’s brilliant ruling on a second serving of toast and coffee occurring more than forty-five minutes after the initial serving of toast and coffee. In this landmark case, it was determined that, although toast and coffee is most certainly Breakfast, there is only “a forty-five minute window wherein you can consume Breakfast, no matter the activities undertaken between the first and second food engagements.”

According to this precedent, I must inform you that your meal is Not Breakfast. What you have is a special kind of Shitty Lunch known as Sad Desk Lunch, or SDL. SDL is an epidemic that began during the Great Recession when hard-working employees nationwide began to fear leaving their desks, opting instead to pretend to be diligently working through their lunch breaks, while actually focusing on a podcast or, as you mentioned, Peter, Paul and Mary. While lunch is technically outside my purview as a WIBC member, I encourage you to consider a more substantive noontime meal. It’s not as important as Breakfast, but it’s still pretty important.

May a turkey sandwich or a BLT find its way to you next lunch break,
Guest Committee Member Lesley

Dear Breakfaster,

Guest Committee Member Lesley (and, by association, Guest Committee Member Steve) makes an excellent point: This seems like too long a gap to be considered a mere Pause in Breakfast. However, I'd like to raise an additional argument for this being Not Breakfast: the possible Second Breakfast in question is peanut butter crackers, which do not qualify as First or Any Subsequent Breakfast. Because, crackers.

I heartily approve of you eating something at this point in the day, but I do not want you to suffer under the delusion that that thing is Breakfast.

Kind regards,
Co-chair Jessy

The What Is Breakfast Committee regrets to inform you (except not really because it is our only job):

Peanut Butter Crackers and Water Consumed Three Hours and Fifty-Nine Minutes After Original Breakfast are Not Breakfast.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bloody Breakfast?

To those of you who have been waiting to eat Breakfast for the past six months, we apologize, as usual, with a small amount of sincerity.

However, we have a shiny new Guest Comittee Member to make up for it. Guest Committee Member Jonathan loves Breakfast and rules, so he is highly qualified in his affections. 

And we have a question to answer that comes up in my own life on a weekendly basis, so let's scurry to the inbox:

Good morning fair and reasoned breakfast jurists,

During a recent visit to Chicago, I enjoyed a Bloody Mary at the Bongo Room within customarily acceptable breakfast hours (say 6am to 11:30amish). Said Bloody Mary was surprisingly heavily garnished with a speared meaty cube of salami, equal amount of cheese, pepper, and olives.  Assuming the mix included either tomato juice or V8, was this Breakfast?

I’m including a picture for your convenience (please also consider the slice of lemon and lime), though I hope you will not disparage me for taking a picture of my food.

Kind regards,
Gary Windle

Dear Mr. Windle,

Although I had hoped my inaugural post as a guest member of the What Is Breakfast Committee would occur under sunnier circumstances, it is with a heavy heart that I regretfully inform you your Bloody Mary is Not Breakfast.

Let us begin with the facts:

1. The Bloody Mary is delicious.
2. The Bloody Mary is a drink.

It is with only a modicum of trepidation that I assert the following: a drink is not a meal. Yes, in rare circumstances, a drink may act as a meal, much as the vice president becomes "acting president" if the real president has to undergo a colonoscopy. If you are not able to consume solid foods, and must thus have someone put a cheeseburger and fries into a blender, you are consuming liquids as a meal replacement. If you drink Slim-Fast as a meal replacement, well, you are doing just that. You are utilizing a "meal replacement." They wouldn’t call it a meal replacement if it were a meal. That’s not my opinion, that’s just how words work.

But I shouldn’t dwell on the abstract. The Bloody Mary depicted in your e-mail—and, on the picture, I should note: I appreciated it. Show, don’t tell, right?—is very, very well-appointed. I see cheese, salami, olive, citrus, and, for some reason, a jalapeno shaped like a cherry. Indeed, had you had a greater quantity of these meats, cheeses, and fruits, you might have found yourself with a breakfast on your hands. Unfortunately, all the food skewered on the rim of your glass is, at the end of the day, "garnish." Delicious though they may be, they are ultimately nothing more than decorative flourishes. What you have, sir, is a very fancy drink and no Breakfast.

Mr. Windle, thank you again for your correspondence, and I do hope that next time you’ll order some eggs—I don’t want you to drink on an empty stomach.

Guest Committee Member Jonathan

Hi Gary,

This is difficult for me because—as many friends, lovers, and bartenders in the greater Chicago, Fort Collins, DC, and Boston area know—I love a good Bloody Mary. Like, if my mother asked me (as she always does when I say I love an inanimate object), "Are you gonna marry it?" My answer would be a resounding, "Yes! Or I would, if our archaic judicial system would just catch up to my desires!" (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I believe I also gave the same answer re: Tetris and those little tape bracelets you can wear to make gift wrapping easier, so.)

And this looks to be a glorious Bloody Mary indeed. Although the photo doesn't tell me about its internal spices, I can almost taste the olive, jalapeno, and the chunk of cheese, and I can almost smell the piece of meat-thing that I would quickly pass on to one of my dining companions.

But Guest Committee Member Jonathan is right: it's a drink. And the density of a Blood Mary is not thick enough to push it into more controversial Breakfast Smoothie? territory. 

Sorry, Gary. A Blood Mary, on its own, is just a Bloody Mary.

Better luck next time,
Co-chair Jessy

The Committee reluctantly declares:

Even an Especially Well-dressed Bloody Mary is Not Breakfast. 

(But we do hear that they pair exceptionally well with many egg dishes that are Breakfast. And hangovers.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pillsbury vs. Breakfast

Dear Committee:

I was recently informed by a TV commercial that it's not actually Breakfast without Pillsbury Grands! biscuits.  I'm confused by this claim, because if true, I have apparently never eaten Breakfast in my entire life.  I am not one to accept commercial claims willy-nilly, but I am nonetheless looking to your professional opinion to confirm that I have, in fact, eaten Breakfast before (many delicious and seemingly complete Breakfasts, I might add) despite the lack of biscuits springing from a vacuum-sealed jar.  Please do clear up this confusion. 

Many thanks,

A Breakfast Eater (maybe)

Dear Breakfast Eater,

Corporate flag-staking confuses many Breakfast participants. After the invention of toaster strudel, I spent two years thinking toaster pastries were antiquated and beneath me. The lesson: don’t believe the hype.

I do, however, understand why companies like Pillsbury want to corner the market on Breakfast—it’s big money. Have you ever picked up the tab after everyone at your table ordered skillets?

In short, Pillsbury is guilty of Breakfast conceit. Unfortunately, this crime goes relatively unpunished in the United States. Many of the Breakfast-related cases have been settled out of court, and there is no active Breakfast legislation on the House docket.

But the law is clear: a corporation cannot copyright Breakfast.

I consulted the official Pillsbury website and it seems as if they no longer support this claim. Perhaps, in the time between your query and this response, they have seen the error in their ways.

To be safe, I have written a letter on behalf of the WIBC, proposing an amendment to their tagline: “It’s probably still Breakfast without Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits, but try them if you’re ever in the mood for biscuits and it’s morning-time.”

I’ve also made sure to retroactively certify all your previously consumed Breakfasts as Breakfast. You have officially eaten many Breakfasts. No corporation can take that from you.

Guest Committee Member Steve

Dear Breakfast Eater:

Hang on, let me just check my list of What Is Breakfast Committee Members....

Weird, it looks like Pillsbury is not listed. GUESS THEY DON'T GET TO DECIDE WHAT IS BREAKFAST.

Keep to your own side of the street, Pillsbury.

Kind regards,
Co-chair Jessy

The Committee agrees:

Breakfast Can be Breakfast Without the Assistance of Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits.

(The Committee is less certain that they have the authority to retroactively certify all Breakfasts as Breakfasts.)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Swiss Cheese Sleep Cycle

Welcome back, Hopeful Breakfasters! And please join me in welcoming Guest Committee Member Chad, a great patron of Breakfast establishments throughout Chicago, the Bay Area, and his house. He also took our Breakfast photo on the right, thus providing photographic evidence that he knows Breakfast when he sees it. 

Dear What is Breakfast Committee,

I have a dilemma.  My poor sleeping habits sometimes have ill-effects.  One of these ill-effects is sleeping in a bit too late and having to take my Breakfast "on the road" as I run off hurriedly to class.  I don't always have much in terms of food "to go," so oftentimes I will grab a slice of swiss cheese or two and wash it down with water.  Is that Breakfast?

Perplexed in Poughkeepsie

Guest Committee Member Chad:
Dear Perplexed,

I am sorry for your sleeping troubles. Many of us have known the long stretches of dark, insomnia-ridden nights that make the bright glow of Breakfast seem painfully far away.

Unless, of course, you’re just doing other things, like watching entire seasons of Wings on Netflix, in which case you need to re-examine your life choices.

Which brings me to my next point: use those late-night hours to prepare Breakfast for the next day! As any good nightwalker knows, a sleepless hour doesn’t have to be a wasted hour (or a boring one, if you have an equally sleepless and consenting partner around). Perhaps you could hit an all-night grocery and pick up something more substantial than slices of swiss cheese.

So, on that note: cheese and water, I have to say, are simply tiny building blocks used to make actual Breakfast items, like omlettes and coffee. On their own, they do not constitute a meal. On their own, they taste only of longing and regret.

Please, my dear Perplexed, stop depriving yourself of essential nutrients and delicious meals. At least get some granola bars to supplement your busy schedule. Unlike many other after-hour decisions, this is one you’ll never regret.

Final vote: Not Breakfast.

Co-chair Jessy:

I get it! I really do. I was up late watching Wings last night myself, had a bit of a lie-in in the morning, and then had to rush out the door to get to the lab on time, with just a thin cup of almond milk trying to stand between me and a Not Breakfast fate. Fortunately, I keep a grapefruit tree flourishing at work for just such an occasion.

But as Guest Committee Member Chad has pointed out, there are many other strategies you can use to make Breakfast work for you, no matter your REM cycle. The pre-packing a granola bar strategy is a good one. (WARNING: I have found that this strategy does not translate as well to, say, oatmeal.) You also might want to consider genetically modifying your own fruit tree, or seducing a bakery owner with co-dependency issues. The possibilities are endless! 

Except for the possibility of swiss cheese and water being Breakfast. Get real. 

Final vote: Not Breakfast. 

The Committee is Certain:

A Slice or Two of Swiss Cheese Washed Down with Water is Not Breakfast.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Brussel Sprouts! Bacon! Breakfast?

Concerned Breakfasters, please join me in welcoming Guest Committee Member Kasey!

Kasey knows that it's Not Breakfast when she eats a cookie, but perhaps her most important qualification for the Committee is that she is one half of
Shorties Review Chicago, where she and Co-chair Jessy write one-sentence reviews of Chicago art, theatre, live music, film, and the occasional sandwich. So she is very experienced at having opinions about things.

Speaking of which, there is a Concerned Breakfaster in Chicago who needs their help....

Dear What Is Breakfast,

I made Brussel Sprouts with Thick Cut Apple Wood Smoked Bacon for dinner. There are leftovers and I'm about to give in and eat it all for breakfast. Its 10:11AM. This actually seems like Breakfast in disguise, but you're the experts—is this Breakfast?

-Confused Human in Chicago

Dear Confused Human in Chicago:

Let me start by saying how much I admire your conservative, efficient attitude towards leftovers. Many people wouldn't have even considered this option while contemplating Breakfast. Some callous souls may have even left the potential meal to gray and spoil in the back of their fridge—mocking it with new takeout and fresh groceries.

That said, I think we have an interesting dilemma on our hands. How can you translate this once-dinner into Breakfast without reducing the qualifications of the glorious morning meal to a mere timeframe? Just because you eat it at 10am, doesn't mean it is truly Breakfast.

Let's examine the components involved:

Brussel Sprouts: This delicious vegetable is quite a unique one. In addition to having all the nutrients of its leafy green friends, these little buds also offers some protein. When weighing early morning dining options, protein should always be a factor. Think of it as a jump start to a day of productive eating.

Thick Cut Apple Wood Smoked Bacon: I can tell you are proud of this bacon. I'm not sure if you cut or smoked the bacon yourself, but you demonstrate a clear respect for this half of the meal. Each descriptor and every capital letter in your email is a textual tip-of-the-hat to what I can only assume was a superb decision in pork. In my opinion, bacon is always a tasty and traditional addition to a true Breakfast. And yet, as bacon becomes more and more trendy, I become more and more skeptical of its allegiance to Breakfast. Today's uninhibited bacon garnishes everything from sandwiches to cupcakes. What was once a classic Breakfast meat is now the bakery sideshow freak. My inner activist argues that you must eat this dish for the benefit of Breakfast itself. You must do it to save the bacon and remind it where it came from, its origin, its home. That isn't what this committee is about, however, and I'm not here to prescribe my bacon-related idealist philosophies.

The bottom line is that this meal actually does boast several desirable Breakfast facets: protein, fiber, vitamin C, a traditional Breakfast meat, and a couple different food groups. I suggest you round out the meal with a glass of OJ, or perhaps a piece of fruit for balance, and enjoy your Breakfast. It may be an unorthodox pairing with which to start the day, but you have my support. Breakfast away, my friend. 

Guest Committee Member Kasey

Confused Human:

As much as I respect my Guest Committee Member's thorough rationale and her personal beliefs about bacon, I cannot bring myself to agree. Brussels Sprouts, while delicious and nutritious, are Not Breakfast. Leftover Dinner is also Not Breakfast, because it has already been Dinner. Bacon is, I agree, most typically Breakfast, but it does have the power to resist two Not Breakfast forces on its own greasy strength.

My final vote is: Brussel Sprouts and Bacon are Awesome but Not Awesome Enough to be Breakfast.


The Committee is Conflicted Inside:

Bacon is Breakfast. Brussel Sprouts are Good for You. Brussel Sprouts and Thick Cut Apple Wood Smoked Bacon Could Possibly be Breakfast.

(But it's not.)

(But Jessy doesn't get to just make decisions by herself; that's why we have a Committee.)

(But it's not!)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Controversial Otter Pop

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

As a long-time Breakfast-enthusiast, I tend to try and mix things up for Breakfast on occasion... Who wants the same bland toast, eggs, bacon, or cereal for Breakfast EVERY morning? But with these culinary nuances at hand, I find myself wondering... Is the accompaniment of a typical Breakfast product along with those of the "non-breakfast" staple considered Breakfast? Take for example my Breakfast this morning: Cheerios with 2% milk (obviously Breakfast) with the delightful addition of an Otter Pop. Breakfast? Now it has been said that the likes of a food with the sugar exceeding that of a typical sugar cereal may not be considered Breakfast, but what about an Otter Pop with a miniscule 6 grams of sugar? Is that Breakfast on its own? Or would the partnership of my humble Cheerios allow something of its stature to roam out of its typical classification? I hope you can solve my dilemma, or else I may have been eating Breakfast wrong all along!

With regards,
Famished in Fort Collins
(September 4, 2009) 

Co-chair Jessy: This half of the Committee has no idea what an Otter Pop is. And yet she can declare, with absolute certainty, that it is Not Breakfast.

Judging by the name, it seems like it must either be a) a popsicle in the shape of an Otter, b) a lollipop in the shape of an Otter, or c) a frozen Otter (or part of an otter?) on a stick. The Committee obviously has access to the wonder of "google images," but refuses to employ that venerable tool to answer a question that has already been answered: No, an Otter Pop is Not Breakfast.

(If you had the Cheerios and THEN a Otter Pop, The Committee would be willing to concede that you did have Breakfast, and then immediately followed it with something that was Not Breakfast. However, if you added the Otter Pop to your Cheerios, the Committee can only conclude that you not only did Not eat Breakfast, but you are also a sick, sick man.)

Guest Committee Member David Death: Three and half years have passed since your initial query. A lot has changed since then: dub step is considered real music, Ben Affleck won an Oscar for portraying a Mexican, the ice caps have melted and so has your Otter Pop.

What hasn't changed is breakfast, which is exactly what you have not been eating for the last three and a half years. And that's exactly what I'm here to rectify.

According to a website of my choosing, the Otter Pop is defined as a "frozen snack…filled with a fruit juice liquid." The liquid is neither fruit nor juice, but water filled with flavors - a colored ice cube. Packing a whopping 40 calories, you'll burn more calories bringing the liquid snack up to your mouth than you will consuming it, leaving negative calories. Negative calories are not food, and not food is Not Breakfast.

But this "frozen snack" is curious. What if your frozen snack is two scrambled eggs and bacon blended into a liquid state and left in the freezer? Definitely Breakfast. Oatmeal and raisins shaped into a cone and placed on a stick? Breakfast. Pancakes and hashbrowns? You bet. Hot as lava or cold as Pluto (R.I.P), whatever your temperature preference, Breakfast is Breakfast at any thermometer reading.

So, put your Otter Pop back in the freezer and leave it there. Forever. Because Frozen Liquid Snacks Made of Water and Color are Not Breakfast. You've simply chosen to eat a popsicle after Breakfast and before Lunch. Is it Brunch, you ask? Good question, but we at the What Is Breakfast Committee are not authorized, nor qualified to answer that. Please refer to the Why Does Brunch Matter Community.

A quick note: While an ice cube is not food and definitely Not Breakfast, it should be noted that any meal with Ice Cube is and always will be Breakfast.

The Committee can attest:

An Otter Pop With Breakfast is No Breakfast at All.

(And for the record, our official position is that the Presence or Absence of Iconic Rap Artists Does Not Affect the Status of Breakfast vs. Not Breakfast.)

(And that liquefied-then-frozen eggs may not officially be Breakfast until the year 2063.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Toast + Sadness = ?

Today the Committee will be joined by yet another up-and-coming Guest Committee Member, Guest Committee Member Steve. Steve is a writer and a Breakfast-eater who isn't afraid of tackling tough Breakfast problems. Welcome, Steve! The Committee appreciates your help as we continue to work through our formidable backlog of Breakfast queries.

Speaking of which, let's go to the inbox!

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

This morning was a normal morning with a normal breakfastbuttered and jammed toast with coffee. I washed the dishes, swept the floor, and immediately proceeded to make another cup of coffee and two more pieces of toast. 

What is this second meal? Is it still breakfast, or has it passed on lunch? Or something in between? And why do I eat when I'm sad? And why didn't this second breakfastlunchthing fill the empty part of my heart like I thought it would? 

-David Black- and Empty-Hearted


Let's start with a fact: Toast and Coffee is Breakfast.

You raise a very good question, however—does the scope of Breakfast extend beyond the initial food-engagement period? Separately, these food-engagements qualify as Breakfast. But does the interstice constitute the beginning of a new meal?

As a rule of thumb, there is a forty-five minute window wherein you can resume Breakfast, no matter the activities undertaken between the first and second food-engagements. If your dishwashing and floor sweeping did not exceed forty-five minutes, and you resumed eating directly after those activities, you are still in Breakfast. If your chores took an hour, the second food-engagement qualifies as Shitty Lunch.

Now to the more pressing issue—your emotional eating. Thank you for bravely discussing your habits with the What Is Breakfast Committee.

I can't speak for all meals, but Breakfast carries with it a great deal of baggage. You have woken to the world, and you'd like to begin the day on a good note. There is innately a lot of pressure attached to Breakfast. The goal is to make Breakfast a positive experience, to serve as a catalyst for more positive experiences throughout the day. Like any emotional eater, once the pleasure of eating is gone, the roots of your negative emotions remain. Your decision to perform small tasks is good, in theory, but once those tasks are completed, your emotional hunger is likely to return. So, how can you help to prevent this emotional hunger?

After your first successful attempt at Breakfast, and after washing dishes and sweeping the floor, why not take a walk? Perhaps you could meet a friend for that second coffee? Take a pottery class at your local community center. Engage in life outside of your home, and outside of Breakfast. Food can be comforting and celebratory, but if you’re not parlaying those positive feelings into more positive feelings, you run the risk of falling into an emotionally negative cycle, much like you're describing.

Also, it's hard to fill a hole in your heart with refined grains and stimulants. Grab an apple and get out there!



You thought you were done with Breakfast, but turns out you weren't.


The Committee Believes:

Any Amount of Toast and Coffee Consumed Within a Reasonable Amount of Time in the Morning is Breakfast.

Further information can be found here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frappuccino vs. Strudel

We're back, Friends of Breakfast! And we return with a whole soupload of talented Guest Committee Members to help you with all of your breakfast judgment needs.

The first of the newcomers is Guest Committee Member Lesley, who takes a modest approach to her Breakfast expertise. When interviewed for the position, she stated that, although she "always breakfasts and prefers [her] breakfasts to be delicious," she was not sure that she had the highest possible breakfast standards. However, she then proceeded to list all of her recent breakfasts, which all included members of Breakfast in good standing. We the Committee are delighted to welcome her to the table. 

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee,

I am deciding between A) a coffee frappuccino, made in my blender with ice cream and yesterday's coffee, or B) a Toaster Strudel. Obviously I want to pick the most breakfasty option, but I am torn because A sounds more like a milkshake and B — well I'm not sure B has any real "food" in it at all, mainly cardboard with a jelly filling. Help!


PS I will be eagerly awaiting a reply, as I am hungry and incapable of making my own decisions.

Guest Committee Member Lesley:
Dear Shades, 

I hope you have learned your lesson and are now stocking your pantry with appropriate breakfast foods, like oatmeal and bagels. Your dilemma was so challenging, it took months of deliberation to come up with a suitable recommendation. Finally, I realized I was missing a glaringly obvious disqualifier: ice cream. Ice cream is not breakfast unless it is overpowered by a food that is overwhelmingly breakfasty, like scrambled eggs. One might argue that coffee makes the ice cream breakfast, but this is not so. Coffee is a drink. Drinks are merely incidental to the breakfast meal and do not have the power to wash away the sins of a dessert food masquerading as breakfast. Although I would say that a Toaster Strudel's claim to the breakfastness is tenuous at best, it is certainly the more breakfasty of the two options. 

Final vote: Ice cream plus coffee does not equal Breakfast. Toaster Strudel is only Breakfast by default. 

Co-chair Jessy:
Dear Shades of Strudel,

I agree wholeheartedly with my promising young Guest Committee Member in all respects. Although, unfortunately, now I can't stop thinking about eating eggs with ice cream. And I am a little concerned that our belief in the breakfastness of Toaster Strudels has been forged out of mere cardboard and jelly by the mad men of Pillsbury's marketing team.

Final vote: Day-old Coffee Blended with Ice Cream is Not Breakfast. A Toaster Strudel is Breakfast Because I am a Product of the Capitalist Machine.

The Committee Has Determined:

A Frappuccino is Not Breakfast. A Toaster Strudel is Breakfast When the Cupboards are Bare. Eggs and Ice Cream Should Never Be Eaten or Thought of at the Same Time.