Bacon and Eggs: An Accidental Breakfast Tradition

Bacon and eggs
Photo by Wright Brand Bacon on Unsplash

The famous bacon-and-eggs breakfast is a key part of American food culture, and has been for a long time now. But while we’re used to thinking about traditions, and especially food-related traditions that have deep cultural roots, the origin story behind this one is slightly different.

It turns out that the American tradition of eating bacon and eggs for breakfast is the result of no other than a successful marketing campaign! The campaign was generated in the 1920s by non-other than PR professional Edward Bernays, who also happened to be the nephew of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

A Funny Story

In short: blame Freud (this seems to apply to many things in life, doesn’t it?). Well, allegedly, he was the one to initially recommend a full breakfast to his nephew. But to be honest, if you’re looking for anyone to blame, it should probably be Bernays.

As a PR consultant to a bacon company, Bernays job was basically to increase bacon sales by making the food more appealing to Americans. In order to do so, he came up with a deviously genius idea: conducting a study (which was more like a survey) among 5,000 physicians, asking them whether the healthier option having a light or a heavy meal for breakfast.

As most physicians sided with the latter, Bernays simply used the results in his favor. He used the results to push bacon and eggs as the ideal breakfast, and an American tradition was born.