Can you really have an all-day breakfast?

Gingerous has emailed in with an interesting question:

Can you really have an 'all-day breakfast'? After all, as far as I'm aware, the word 'breakfast' means the first meal of the day or a meal eaten in the morning. So is an 'all-day breakfast' not just a fry-up or scrambled eggs on toast etc?

This is probably just me being pedantic, but it's something that bothered me the other day. I'm guessing that the reason they use 'all-day breakfast' is that it groups certain types of food together – although I still think if they advertised an 'all-day fry-up' it may be a little clearer.

Thanks, Gingerous – I've never really thought about this one before. The Oxford English Dictionary does indeed define 'breakfast' as "a meal eaten in the morning, the first of the day", so in that sense an 'all-day breakfast' is contradictory. I also agree with you that the word 'breakfast' in the term 'all-day breakfast' refers to the types of food included rather than the timing of the meal.

However, in my experience, an 'all-day breakfast' tends to contain slightly different items to a regular fry-up so it remains a useful term. For example, I wouldn't expect chips with an all-day breakfast (although the photo below, taken from the website of the Royal Cafe Restaurant, Stranraer, clearly shows chips as part of the 'Traditional' all-day breakfast. Note as well the 'Breakfast Brunch' – it's three meals in one, two of which are breakfast. And then there's the 'Early Starter' – if you were such an early starter, why not just have breakfast, as opposed to an all-day breakfast?).

I'd also take issue with your suggestion 'all-day fry-up': why not just use 'fry-up'? After all, it's not as if fry-ups are traditionally only eaten in the morning.

Anyone else have anything to add to this discussion? And do other countries apart from the UK have all-day breakfasts?


Anonymous said...

I think you're over-egging it, if you'll pardon the pun.

Traditionally breakfasts in restaurants were only served at breakfast time, or at least in the morning. Think of McDonalds, where you can get a sausage and egg muffin at 10:29 AM but if you arrive two minutes later then you have to make do with the regular menu.

An All-Day Breakfast, then, is simply a traditional English breakfast (aka a fry-up) that you can order at any time of the day.

Jacqueline said...

I don't know about in the UK, but in Canada a lot of restaurants stop serving breakfast at 11am. So if a restaurant is trying to bring in an all-day breakfast crowd they advertise the all-day breakfast.

Breakfasts here are traditionally pretty inexpensive so a lot of restaurants limit them until 11am so that it doesn't cut into their lunch-crowd income.

I love the all-day breakfast idea myself. It's so all encompassing and that means I can have my sausages and sunny-side up egg any time I want! What's better than that?! (OK, lots, but you get the idea.)

Roy said...

I was in a cafe recently that advertised all-day breakfast served from 7am until 11am, which makes it a breakfast but certainly not an all-day one.

Editrix said...

Hmmm . . . Although I can think of several restaurants in the U.S. that serve breakfast all day (Waffle House, IHOP, Eat'n Park, Bob Evans), I don't know that I've ever seen the term "all-day breakfast." Instead, I see a lot of constructions like these: "Our restaurant's breakfast menu offers wholesome, homestyle meals all day long" (Cracker Barrel), "Breakfast Served All Day" (Waffle House), "We serve breakfast all day" (Bob Evans).

That being said, I do think "all-day breakfast" is a handy, efficient way to phrase it, despite the whole how-can-breakfast-be-an-all-day-thing? problem.

P.S.: What's a fry-up?

Apus said...

As JD will confirm, my figure reflects my expertise in this field. I've always assumed that an all-day breakfast was simply a meal large enough that you wouldn't feel hungry again until the evening, thus the 'all-day' breakfast is a breakfast designed to last all day, rather than one that would be served all day.
And while chips have no part in any civilised breakfast, I must report that the biggest all-day breakfast I know of is awaiting your attention at Lizzy's Diner, on an industrial estate near Sandown on the Isle of Wight. For £6.49 you get: two eggs, four rashers, three bangers, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, a fried slice, toast and a pint of tea or coffee.
So far I've resisted attention, but I fear it's only a matter of time.
Roy, a fry-up is simply a meal comprising fried food (ideally fried in lard for the best taste and shortest life span). Normally a fry-up refers to breakfast, though we Brits generally eschew the pancakes and syrup that I believe nuzzle up to the eggs and bacon in the US.

Anonymous said...

As one who, in the past, has been subjected to shift work for up to years at a time, I can testify that to those on non-standard hours, "breaking fast" can occur at non-standard times of day. When on the "midwatch", 23:00 - 07:00 (European times used to reduce misunderstanding)), upon arising at around 21:00 and preparing to go to work, I frequently "broke fast" at 21:30-22:00. Similarly, when on the 15:00 - 23:00 shift, I looked forward to breakfast at 14:00. In those circumstances, I deeply appreciated those establishments offering breakfast at "non-standard" times of day.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm.....breakfast :-)

The Ridger, FCD said...

We certainly have all-day breakfasts in US restaurants. But I wouldn't ever call a breakfast a "fry up". That's a term I'm not familiar with, and if I were to see it on a sign, I think I'd assume they mean their grill was open all day.

Also, like Ray I used to work swinging shifts and often wanted my eggs and bacon at 2100 or even at 700 but as the LAST meal ... and I've been known to have "breakfast" for supper.

Gez said...

I can if I want and if I were you, I wouldn't get in my way.

Hell hath no fury like Gez separated from his runny egg.

sunmarsh said...

Not sure if this has already been stated, but if you break down the word "breakfast" you'll get a good meaning out of it. Break, fast. You are breaking your fast when you eat breakfast; that is the fasting you were doing while sleeping. So, it's very much impossible to have breakfast all day by this definition, unless you call the time in between meals fasting?

Anonymous said...

Taking cue from what some of you said, as well as defined by the said dictionary, I still think there could be an 'all-day breakfast.' Simply because not all people eat their first meal of the day at the same time. ;)