The origins of brunch are actually fairly recent in historical terms and they are well documented to boot. The first known usage of the word in writing was a short essay published in an issue of Britain’s Hunter’s Weekly in 1895 authored by Guy Beringer called Brunch: A Plea.
In it, Beringer made a case for the need of introducing a new meal that would combine the greatest of breakfast and lunch into a single meal that would be held later in the day. It was originally intended to be a Sunday reprieve from the hangovers received thanks to the previous night’s festivities.
Top Brunch Cities
Brunch didn’t take too long to catch on in London after the circulation of Beringer’s essay, but it was sometime before it made the hop across the pond and became fashionable in places like New York City.
It wasn’t until the 1930’s that brunch began to take the United States by storm. During this time, brunch was catching on in high society and in 1939, The New York Times fully endorsed brunch by declaring Sunday a two-meal day.
The rise of brunch wasn’t exactly meteoric however, but it did stick around and continue to gain some steam over the coming decades.
According to the Washington Post, once the 1960’s came around, the popularity of brunch engendered the creation of brunch-specific cookbooks – proving it had carved out its own niche in pop culture. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that Americans began to brunch on both Sunday and Saturday making it an all-weekend affair.
It was around this time that brunch became something that wasn’t just for the wealthy elite and began to find its place in regular households for the first time.
Some suggest the more recent mass adoption of brunch is thanks, at least in part, to the titillating Sex and the City television show which glorified the glamorous lifestyle of the four main characters who made Sunday brunch a regular part of their lives.
Whether or not Sex and the City is to blame, Google Trends shows the steady rise of search interest in Brunch since 2004. Brunch is not only here to stay, it’s actually continuing to make its presence known across the country.
As of now, most brunching seems to take place in coastal and urban areas while the Midwest and more central areas of the nation are still a bit slow to catch on. This trend is common in food and other pop culture phenomena starting on the coasts and taking their time to work their way inward.
The recent surge in brunch is thanks to many modern Americans beginning to forgo breakfast altogether. Brunch is a great way to sate breakfast food cravings for those of us who generally don’t eat breakfast throughout the week.
It’s also a wonderful excuse to sleep in and laze about in the middle of the day with a few cocktails.
With all the great aspects of brunch to love it’s no wonder the popularity of brunch has seen a steady climb this past century and become the star of weekend meals in recent years.
Brunch was invented by Guy Beringer.
“When one has reached a certain age, and the frivolities of youth have paled, one’s best thoughts are turned in the channel of food.” -Guy Beringer
So began Guy Beringer’s, the infamous inventor of brunch, Brunch: A Plea. The first known written mention of the word brunch was penned by Guy Beringer and published in a British periodical named Hunter’s Weekly in 1895.
The writer’s original intent for how brunch should be conducted and the reasons for its needs were not entirely far off from the way brunch is handled to this day.
Top Brunch Cities
Beringer called brunch an opportunity for making life brighter and promoting a “cheerful, sociable and inciting” meal with friends.
In his writing, Guy suggested that brunch was the perfect way to sweep “away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” He went on to say that brunch was a time for placing yourself in a good mood while also providing time for relaxation.
However, Guy Beringer’s proposal for combining Sunday breakfast and lunch into his newly dubbed “Brunch” was for reasons not entirely altruistic. In fact, his reasoning (or perhaps begging is the better word) for making the first meal on Sunday waylaid until noon was intended to help himself and others get over their hangovers from the night before!
Guy Beringer wrote about his awful experiences with being forced to rise early on his only day off and after a long night of drinking to boot just to be greeted with a quick, plain breakfast in the cold of the morning.
He also spoke about the anxiety induced on Saturday nights that should otherwise be full of merriment due to the knowledge of the need for waking early the next morning – thus preventing you from fully enjoying your Saturday nights.
In his brief essay, Guy made his plea with the world to embrace this new meal that would stamp out the need to rise early on Sunday morning after a long Saturday night of drinking and carousing.
He proposed breakfast and lunch dishes be served together with tea and coffee (beer and whiskey were also permissible according to Mr. Beringer) and the meal should commence sometime between noon and half past.
In committing to this new meal type and timing, the denizens of the world could more enjoy both their Saturdays as well as their Sundays.
Dishes to be served were those of fish and other meat courses in addition to standard breakfast fare such as “marmalade and kindred features” (another way of saying jellied toast basically!) Guy considered eggs and bacon to be “adapted to solitude; they are consoling, but not exhilarating.”
He suggested that the standard breakfast meal failed to stimulate conversation while brunch is talk-compelling and a time for good humor and friendship.
The next time you’re enjoying brunch with your friends and taking part in some socially-acceptable day drinking, remember to tip your glass to Guy Beringer for providing you with the groundwork necessary to turn brunch into the cultural phenomenon it has become.