The Birth of Brunch: Where Did This Meal Come from Anyway?
Come Sunday late morning, eateries across America will be scrambling eggs, frying bacon and toasting thick slices of bread in anticipation of a time period where mealtime rules take a backseat. That’s right. It’s brunch time. But have you ever wondered what spurred this American craze?
Smithsonian reports that the origins of this weekend ritual are blurry, at best. Some consider the origin of brunch to be English huntsmen’s lavish spreads that included meats, fruit, sweets, and… chicken livers. But then there’s also the practice of enjoying a communal meal after Sunday morning mass. It’s confusing to be sure, but historians tracked down the first in-text mention of “brunch” — a late morning repast — in 1895 in a magazine called Hunter’s Weekly, where British writer Guy Beringer suggested brunch as an alternative to a heavy post-mass lunch.
The 1920s brought the winds of culinary change to American shores, and by 1930s Hollywood stars traveling from LA to Chicago via train often popularized late morning munchies with restaurants scrambling to deliver as more and more Americans decided to eat out, making it an event at the suggestion of the New York Times in 1939. Chicago’s Ambassador Hotel was likely one of the first American institutions to serve up a hearty mid-morning meal. This era hinted at post-prohibition alcohol inclusion, but also offered up popular recipes for mocktails.
After the 1950s, day-drinking was deemed slightly more acceptable and brunch became a slightly boozier affair. Today, brunch is a lavish get together, intentionally defined by excess, bottomless this and limit-less that, a buffet of choices and alcohols, all punctuated by brunch favorites like eggs benedict (invented in New York City) and Bloody Marys.
How brunch became the most delicious, and divisive meals in America
And there’s no stopping brunch — Google Trends reports a steady search increase in the word since 2004, while confirming that the searches are largely concentrated on the East and West Coasts in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The religion associated with most brunch-enthusiastic enclaves was, interestingly enough, Jewish. And while millennials and younger generations are eschewing breakfast as a meal, they’re more readily accepting brunch as a social and culinary decision.
While the popularity of brunch with younger crowds and millennials may indicate its fashionable nature and trendiness, there’s a lot of evidence to show that brunch isn’t just a trend, despite the numerous snaps of avocado toast that adorn your Instagram feed every Sunday between 10 am and 3 pm. Brunch is an opportunity for families and friends to gather together and enjoy a delicious meal that doesn’t need to be cooked at home before the stress of the week sets in. It allows for a little fun on a day typically dedicated to pre-Monday dread, and it encourages community and socializing in a time of extreme digital isolation. We can’t argue with any of that, so let them eat brunch!
Want to brunch at home but don’t know where to start? Finding a menu (scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice, coffee and a sweet is a good place to start) and setting your table can give you momentum. Not sure what will look best in your dining room? Here are a few pieces we love to incorporate into our brunch festivities.
Shop the Products
For a creative and colorful brunch, you’ll need some quirky tableware. There’s no better option than Vietri which can be found at retailer Neiman Marcus. Charmingly misshapen and glazed with a beautiful azure hue and a crackled rim, these plates make a lovely addition to any Sunday table and will look fabulous with brunch favorites piled on top.
Want to debut your muffins, waffles or breakfast fruits? Consider Athropologie’s gorgeous Agate Board in Rose Quartz which will elevate any offering, thanks to its stunning natural crystalline structures and gold-dipped edges. Need more than just one? The board is available in five different colors and acts as a stunning centerpiece for your carefully crafted offerings.
Need more tips on entertaining and gatherings? Check out EditFeast on Instagram