Food Inventions Changed Our Breakfast

For most of us, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How we eat this meal has certainly evolved over the ages, from a simple fuel-up of milk and bread to the myriad forms it can take today.Whether we enjoy a big, cooked breakfast or grab a quick, convenient one on the go, there are a number items which you will find on many breakfast tables around the world. We may take these things for granted today, but many have bizarre origins, and others were actually invented by mistake.


We all enjoy our morning cup of coffee to get us started for the day. In fact, coffee has long been the world’s favorite drink, with around 150 million bags of coffee consumed worldwide each year. You would assume that such a popular beverage was developed by an ancient civilization. However, according to legend, it was actually discovered by a herd of goats!In the past, an Ethiopian goatherd noticed strange behavioral changes in his flock of goats. They had become more lively and active, having trouble settling at night. Following the goats one day, he found them feasting on the berries of a particular tree. The goatherd shared his story with the local abbot, who experimented with making a drink from the berries The abbot got such a buzz from the newly discovered beverage that it soon began to spread, becoming the world’s favorite “pick-me-up” which is found on most breakfast tables.


A tub of margarine can be found in the middle of many breakfast tables today. Many varieties are thought to be healthier than butter, and some can often be cheaper.Have you ever wondered how this everyday food originated? It was actually the result of a competition Napoleon III held to come up with a substitute for butter to feed the troops during the 1800s. Not only did butter spoil quickly, but it was also very expensive, making it impossible to carry on military campaigns.In 1869, a French chemist named Hippolyte Mege-Mouries concocted a mixture of beef tallow, water, and milk. His spread was originally called “oleomargarine,” as he believed it contained oleaic and margaric acids. A Dutch company improved on the original mixture, using plant oils and a yellow dye to make it look more like butter.Dairy producers, however, were unhappy when production of the butter substitute began in the US during the 1870s. Laws were actually passed restricting and even banning the production and sale of margarine. It wasn’t until 1967 that the last of these laws was finally repealed.


Americans call it ketchup; others call it tomato sauce. Whatever you call it, the tomato-based sauce is slathered all over tons of meals every day. However, does squirting fermented fish guts on your breakfast sausages sound appealing? This was actually the origin of the sauce so many know and love today.The Chinese ke-tsiap was a pungent sauce made from fermented fish. During the 18th century, the British tried to copy the unique flavor of this Asian sauce using foods such as anchovies, mushrooms, and nuts.Tomatoes were eventually added to the recipe in the early 19th century, but the tomato-based ketchups spoiled easily. Ingredients such as coal tar were added to the mix in an attempt to improve the shelf life of the sauce.It wasn’t until the late 1800s that a man named Henry Heinz decided to not only modify the type of tomatoes used but to take advantage of the fruit’s natural preservatives. He also added a healthy dash of vinegar to the mix to make the world’s favorite condiment we enjoy today.Today, you can choose from a huge range of butter alternatives to spread on your morning toast.

Corn Flakes

Each morning around the world, quite a few breakfast tables feature corn flakes. In the late 1800s, Seventh-day Adventists were experimenting with various grains to create new vegetarian meals that accorded to the diet called for by their church. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, himself an Seventh-day Adventist, fed these concoctions to patients at the Michigan sanitarium of which he was the superintendent.In 1894, he and his brother left some wheat to cook for too long. They decided to try to get dough out of it anyway, but instead, they got flakes, which they decided to toast and serve to the patients. The original flaked wheat dough was patented in 1895, and packages were sold by mail order. (And yes, Kellogg hoped that the bland meal would curb certain other behaviors.) In 1898, a larger factory was established to produce the wheat flakes, and competitors began producing the breakfast cereal, which was becoming increasingly popular.In 1906, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes debuted after a period experimentation involving making the cereal from corn with malt, sugar, and salt added.

Packaged Milk

Every morning around the world, we reach into the refrigerator to grab the milk carton. Milk might be one of our most consumed products. We drink it, pour it in our tea and coffee, eat it with our cereal, and use it in many recipes.We’ve been drinking milk (other than our own) for roughly 10,000 years, since we first began using the milk from domestic animals such as sheep, cows, and goats. Ancient Egyptians reserved milk for the very wealthy, but dairy products ultimately became a dietary staple.By the 14th century, cow’s milk was favored over sheep’s milk. One of the first jobs of the morning would be to go out to the cowshed to fill a pail with steaming milk for breakfast. Needless to say, this untreated milk was full of germs and bacteria. In 1862, Frenchman Louis Pasteur began experimenting with ways to process and package milk to make it safer and more convenient.The first milk bottle was invented in 1884 in New York state, making it easier to transport milk from the farm to the breakfast table. “Milkos” would visit each morning to replace the empty bottles left on the front doorstep.The plastic-coated milk cartons we know today were invented in the 1930s. The original paper milk cartons were refined over the years, from “Tetra packs” designed during the 1950s to the carton we all use today. A Detroit engineer designed the first “gable top” milk carton during the 1960s. While it took a little while to take hold, by 1987, 98 percent of milk purchased came in one of these cartons.

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