What Time Is Considered Brunch? (History of Brunch)

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We all love Brunch. A chance to catch up with our friends, eat breakfast, drink, and chat, all without getting up early.

It is also the perfect excuse for day drinking. But Brunch brings up several questions, where did it start, how did it become popular, and what time is Brunch?

The British History of Brunch

British Brunch
Credit: @duckandwaffle

Brunch is the amalgamation of breakfast and lunch, known as a portmanteau. Brunch is a meal that consists of traditional breakfast foods that are put together with foods more commonly associated with lunch.

Brunch has been popular in England since the late 1800s. Then it was served in a buffet style for those that had overindulged on a Saturday night.

Brunch owes its popularity to British Writer Guy Beringer. He suggested a new Sunday meal for eating post-church, which was not so heavy.

His article, “BRUNCH: A PLEA,” extolled the virtues of hard-working people having the opportunity not to get up early on their only “day off.”

He thought this extra rest time was necessary on Sunday because, in his words, “Saturday night is, after all, Saturday night.”

He suggested a meal that started at half past midday with breakfast staples such as tea or coffee, marmalade with other similar breakfast items, and some lunch items.

His article proposes it should contain one fish and a couple of meat dishes.

He did also put a P.S on his article. Beer and whiskey are admitted as substitutes for tea and coffee, which is possibly where the addition of alcohol comes from.

So Brunch was designed to help shake off a Sunday morning hangover and assists our stomachs with a light meal before the rigors of feasting later in the day.

Let’s raise a toast to our hard-drinking, party-loving cousin from across the pond, without whom we wouldn’t enjoy our pancakes and cocktails on a Sunday.

The American History of Brunch

American Brunch
Credit: @roostercafefirenze

A little later, America caught on to the fun of Brunch as it did not become popular until the 1930s.

The history of how Brunch started in America is unclear, with many theories, but none provable.

The most likely reason for the increase in popularity was Hollywood. Stars would make transcontinental train journeys, frequently stopping in Chicago for a late morning bite to eat.

The hotels were delighted as most were closed on Sundays because of church-going. But after World War II, church attendances were dropping, and people were ready for a new social outlet.

Restaurants and hotels jumped on the bandwagon and, in a competitive frenzy, started offering incredibly decadent banquets of food and specialist morning cocktails such as Bloody Marys, Bellinis, and Mimosas.

The modern increase in popularity could have come from Carl Degler, a Stanford professor. He wrote an article in the Chicago Tribune in 1980.

His words are still current today as when he wrote, “Married women needed a relief on Sunday, too; thus the rise in popularity of Sunday brunch eaten out.”

A very insightful comment for the time as more women were going to work full time and needed “down time” themselves.

Even Winnie-the-poo got in on the act. In the 1988 episode “The Great Honey Pot Robbery,” Pooh invents a new meal called “Brunchfast.”

It was served after breakfast and before lunch. No alcohol, even though Pooh would have been 67 years old. Maybe he was teetotal?

When Is Brunch Usually Enjoyed?

There are no hard and fast rules as Brunch has developed organically rather than from a set formula.

You can have Brunch any day of the week. Still, in modern versions, with copious amounts of alcohol, it is rarely attended outside of weekends.

It is the perfect opportunity to lie in and enjoy the company of friends and family later in the day.

The Bottomless Brunch

Bottomless Brunch
Credit: @melbfoodalbum

Bottomless brunches have become a massive part of British and American culture. Major restaurant chains and independent bars and restaurants are getting increasingly creative with their offerings to attract the growing business.

In the United Kingdom, for a set fee, you can eat and drink as much as you want for a set number of hours. They are great fun, but they can get messy if you know what I mean.

Foods Served at Brunch

The emphasis of the name being Brunch rather than Lunchfast tells you where the food emphasis comes from.

It is essentially a breakfast menu with some light lunch-style additions.

Eggs are popular on Brunch menus, scrambled, and as part of eggs Benedict. The breakfast theme continues with sweet dishes such as waffles, pancakes, and French toast.

Light lunch dishes are very popular, with Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon leading the way.

There will typically be sandwiches, crispy potatoes, quiches, and bread and butter, served with marmalade.

In the United Kingdom, they have adopted a similar style to in America, with a selection of typical egg-based dishes, Danish pastries, bacon, and eggs. However, traditional foods are declining in popularity for more exotic dishes such as tacos and Asian-inspired fare.

You will still most likely find English Baked Beans on the menu somewhere, though.

But Really, What Time Is Brunch?

Brunch has no specific time due to its organic growth and lack of formality. Unlike the straight jacket of Afternoon Tea in the United Kingdom, which is taken at 4pm!

But as a rule, anywhere between 10am and 4pm would be acceptable to call Brunch.

General consensus puts 11am as more acceptable. Still, cafés and restaurants are offering “All Day” brunches across America, so there must be a demand for time flexibility.

Given the original aim of Brunch was for a bit of extra sleep, for many people, 10am would be too early and would still be breakfast.

Also, consider that a key ingredient of Brunch is a pitcher of mimosas or sipping on a bloody mary. You may want to consider giving your liver more time to recover if you start drinking again so early after a night out.

The point is that a Brunch is a social event with no time conventions, so whenever works for you and your friends, works.

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Final Thoughts

Brunch with great company is a time for laughter and indulgence. It is not a meal out, it is an experience, and the food and drink play second fiddle to the overall enjoyment.

A brunch should leave you with your sides splitting from laughter, your belly full from great food, and maybe a bit tipsy from the cocktails.

Brunch is an excellent release from work day pressures and sets you up for the week ahead with a heart brimming with joy.

All you and your friends have to decide is what time to meet for Brunch!!

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