Trends > Hot & Cool >

Top Ten Breakfast Trends in 2011

What's happening with the most important meal of the day

The Food Channel® presents its Top Ten Breakfast Trends for 2011. The list is based on research conducted by The Food Channel in conjunction with CultureWaves®, the International Food Futurists® and Mintel International.

In our Breakfast Survey of Food Channel readers, one thing quickly became clear. Most of us still recognize breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Fully 95 percent of respondents viewed breakfast as very or somewhat important. About two thirds said they ate breakfast every day without fail and the same percentage said they eat breakfast at home, while nearly 25 percent eat breakfast at work. The ingredient eaten more often at breakfast than any other item: eggs (50 percent), with about 25 percent each saying they eat hot or cold cereal most frequently.

On to the top ten trends: Here’s what we see happening in the morning over the next 12 months.


1.      Oatmeal in Overdrive 

Your grandmother ate it. Heck, your great, great grandmother probably did, too. But 2011 looks like to be a renaissance year for the classic thick and lumpy cereal. McDonald’s has it on it on the menu—and you don’t have to scramble to beat the 10:30 a.m. breakfast cutoff. The fast food giant serves its fruit and maple oatmeal all day long. Starbucks is pushing its version of oatmeal, too. Caribou Coffee has a 7-grain version, and Jamba Juice has been running amusing TV commercials touting its slow-cooked oatmeal, poking fun at restaurants that serve the instant variety.

On the home front, health conscious types have been eating the stuff for years, but now oatmeal’s becoming a real mainstream staple—and not just the instant stuff, which isn’t really all that healthy. Steel-cut oats has become a common household phrase that indicates you’re eating the real thing, and not a powdery, sugary substance cooked in a microwave.

For evidence, read:

The Classic Hot Cereal Is Hotter than Ever

Top Ten Good Things About Oats

Superfoods!

How Good Is McDonald's Oatmeal?

Opinionator: How to Make Oatmeal...Wrong

Recipe evidence:

Apricot-Cranberry Oatmeal with Walnuts

2.      Chocolate for Breakfast

No, we’re not talking about Cocoa Puffs. We’re looking at a bona fide adult trend here. At the recently held Winter Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco, fancy chocolate was everywhere—and often promoted as a breakfast product. There was chocolate tea, chocolate Belgian waffles, chocolate granola, even hot chocolate on a stick. Not surprisingly, a panel of experts at the show named “chocolate for breakfast” as one of the top five trends, based on its ubiquity at the conference.

A recently published cookbook, Chocolate for Breakfast, by Barbara Passino, chef and co-owner of the Napa Valley's Oak Knoll Inn, includes more than 100 tasty recipes. She serves up recipes such as chocolate tacos, and chocolate toast pillows, and gleans ideas from a wide range of global cuisines, including Mexican, Asian, and Italian.

With more and more studies indicating its healthful benefits—especially of dark chocolate—why not start the day with a little cocoa fix?

For evidence, read:

Start the Morning Off Right with Chocolate for Breakfast

Fancy Food Show Picks Top 5 Trends

Cadbury Cocoa Houses

Chocolate Sandwiches: A decadent but easy breakfast for special occasions

Enjoy Chocolate at Breakfast or Anytime

Dunkin' Gets in the Spirit of Chocolate Lovers Month

Recipe evidence:

A Sipping Hot Chocolate for Grownups

"Cooking with Dad" Donuts

3.      Fast Foods Battle Over Breakfast

The breakfast daypart has become the key battleground in the quick service restaurant category, with McDonald’s leading the way with its all-day oatmeal and other heavy hitters like Burger King spending many millions to promote its new breakfast menu. Plus, new players are joining the fray, such as Subway. Even Domino’s is eyeing the potential in the early part of the day.

Decades after abandoning its breakfast program, Wendy’s appears about ready to get up early again, currently testing a Fresh Made Breakfast menu in a number of markets. The Dublin, Ohio, based chain expects to have the program in 1,000 units by the end of the year. Hardee’s, for its part, may ignite a price war with its new budget breakfast platter. It consists of a scratch-made buttermilk biscuit with a bowl of sausage gravy, one scrambled or folded egg, two strips of bacon, and a pile of Hash Rounds—all for $2.49. At a price like that, it’s no wonder that more than 50 percent of all breakfast meals eaten away from home today are from a fast food restaurant (according to Mintel).

Busy lifestyles are never more frenzied than they are during the morning rush, and a breakfast sandwich grabbed at the drive-thru and wolfed down on the way to work epitomizes that state of being quite well.

For evidence, read:

Trendwatch: Wendy’s Getting Back in the Breakfast Biz

Wendy’s and Hardee’s on the Breakfast Wagon

Fast-food restaurants wage a breakfast food war

4.      Haute Coffee Comes Home

Caffeine-seekers are beginning to get tired of standing in line and paying big bucks for fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks and other trendy coffee houses. The still-sluggish economy has something to do about it, too. People are buying whole beans and grinding them at home for a fresher, richer flavor. We’ve learned some tricks from the coffee houses—that a small investment in a grinder and a French press can yield coffee that’s every bit as good as the kind you have to stand in line for.

The supermarket shelves are now bulging with ready-to-drink cappuccinos, frappuccinos, and lattes for enjoying in the comfort of one’s home. For those not as impacted by the downturn, there are all sorts of espresso machines and gazillions of recipes on the Web for making your own caffeinated beverages.

We also noted during the recent round of snow-mageddons that Starbucks was urging its customers to stock up on the company's Via Ready Brew premium instant coffee products for those days when you're snowed in and can't get to one of its many corner coffee shops.

For evidence, read:

Starbucks Eyeing the Single Serve Coffee Market

Starbucks Expands Insta-Brew, adds Flavors

NCA reports new coffee drinking trends

Recipe evidence:

French Quarter Coffee and Chicory

5.      Ethnic Invasion

While Americans have become increasingly adventurous in their desire for new taste experiences over the past decade, breakfast traditions die hard. But 2011 looks to be the year we let global influences start to creep into our morning meal. In the National Restaurant Association survey of chefs, ethnic-inspired breakfast was predicted to be one of the hottest trends of the coming year.

Hispanic breakfast menus sizzle now, especially in regions where the Latino population is growing. Breakfast tacos made with ingredients such as chorizo, salsa and eggs are huge in places like San Antonio and Austin, Texas, but you can find similar offerings in New York City, too. We like choices like breakfast tacos, quesadillas and burritos because they give us that spicy kick in the morning and because they are portable and can be eaten on the way to work or class.

We’re beginning to see European-style breakfasts start to take hold also. Bangers and mash, cheeses, baked beans and cold cuts will take their place on more menus in 2011, especially in big city hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts. In home kitchens we’ll be slathering our toast and biscuits with more European spreads such as Nutella.

For evidence, read:

Bangers and Mash on Brunch Menu at Wilde in Chicago

A Glimpse at Taco Bell Breakfast

Tacos in the Morning? That’s the routine in Austin

Ethnic Flavors Spice up Breakfast Menus

6.      Beverage Choice Choke

The breakfast drink menu just keeps expanding. We’re way beyond coffee and O.J. The younger generation gets its morning kick from an energy drink. Bubbly juices are growing. We counted four different brands of carbonated fruit juice exhibiting at this year’s School Nutrition Association conference. There is an abundance of new fruit juices on supermarket shelves, too, especially the ones touting their antioxidant content, such as drinks containing pomegranate or açai berry juice.

We’ll be seeing more seasonal juices this year, another example of the continuing fervor around “eating local.” We’ll see more of the imaginative fruit blends. We love the mixture of fresh strawberry juices served at Yolk restaurants in Chicago, for instance.

In fact, the number of choices in orange juice alone is crazy. You can select from three or more different levels of pulp content, with or without added calcium, and reduced-sugar orange juice—and those are just in the not-from-concentrate category.

As for the morning diet soda drinkers, who prefer to get their caffeine in carbonated form, we see that trend tapering off with the latest health warnings tying daily consumption of those beverages to increased risk for stroke and heart attacks.

For evidence, read:

Tropicana Pure Premium Will Soon Pour from Clear Bottles

Healthy Beverages Add Muscle to the Menu

Superfruit Juice with Ancient Chinese Medicinal Fruit

Rise and Shine Beverages

Recipe evidence:

Lucy Brennan's "O" Cocktail

7.      Hot Pizza in the A.M.

Sure, many of us enjoyed the taste of congealed cheese and pepperoni on our cold, morning-after pizzas during those long-ago college years, but this is different. Pizza for breakfast is a hot trend—literally, as in pies fresh out of the oven. Market research firm Technomic puts Pizza at the top of its list of the “hottest menu items for breakfast,” which is based on growth over the previous year. There’s even a 24-hour Domino’s Pizza in Dayton, Ohio, that’s offering it. We’re not ready to predict that the delivery guy will be ringing your doorbell at 7:00 in the morning, but we’re not ruling it out either.

Kellogg’s is looking to get a slice of the breakfast pie with its Eggo brand, launching two flavors of Real Fruit Pizza as a new morning meal entry. It offers Strawberry and  Mixed Berry varieties.

Let’s face it, Americans love pizza, morning, noon and night—and it’s the morning variety that’s getting all the attention of late.

For evidence, read:

Hot Breakfast Menu Trend: Hot (Not Cold) Pizza

Breakfast Pizza Heats up

Pizza for breakfast: Domino's cracks breakfast market with egg and cheese pie

Recipe evidence:

Applewood Smoked Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pizza

"Everything" Breakfast Pizza

 

8.      Breakfast Ingredients All Day Long

The fact is, we love the flavors of breakfast. That’s why we see more restaurants serving breakfast all day long—24 hours in some cases. It’s also why we’ll continue to see breakfast ingredients such as bacon and eggs working their way into other parts of our daily menu, home and away.

Bacon of course, is on and in all kinds of foods these days, from burgers to desserts, and though some profess to be tired of the bacon buzz, we don’t see any real evidence of bacon fatigue. It has even become a popular flavor in cocktails.

We also see eggs and hash brown-style potatoes working their way into more lunch and dinner meals. Many of us just don’t have time for that big breakfast—especially on work days—so we find ways to get our fix of breakfast flavors wherever and whenever we can.

For evidence, read:

10 Ways to Eat Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)

Bacon for Dessert? Well, Sure

Recipe evidence:

Candied Bacon Fudge

9.      The Breakfast Two-Step

We’re starting to see a pattern of people getting their breakfast in two phases. It starts with the early morning hit of caffeine at home or Starbucks (or similar), with maybe some toast, a banana or small muffin. That’s followed up later by Phase 2: a mid-morning break of yogurt, granola, fruit, or maybe a power bar… something to propel us forward till lunchtime.

Call it the morning graze. Rather than getting weighed down by a big bountiful breakfast, we just top off our tank by fueling up with caffeine and protein in a two-stage process. It’s becoming a common workday solution for those of us who keep our nose to the grindstone, and we see it continuing in the year ahead.

For evidence, read:

Big Breakfast Not Necessarily Better

Big Breakfast May Make you Fat After all, study finds

Jack Black Likes to Eat Two Breakfasts

10.    Eggs Crack the Top Ten

Last year was an incredibly difficult year for the incredible edible egg. The massive recall was probably the most noteworthy of the annual parade of food scares in the U.S. But 2011 promises to be much sunnier, thanks in part to a just-released report on a nutritional re-evaluation of eggs conducted by the USDA that shows today’s eggs are healthier than previously believed.

The average amount of cholesterol was found to be 14 percent lower than was recorded in 2002, and vitamin D content was up by 64 percent in large eggs. A wide range of health experts now say eating an average of an egg a day is totally okay.

We've noticed when traveling through airports just in the last couple of weeks, we've seen eggs being served everywhere in the terminal. People seem glad to have eggs back on the breakfast menu--and the guilt is gone.

Whether served over-easy or scrambled, hard or soft-boiled, we see eggs hatching a big comeback this year, both in homes and on restaurant menus. To that we say, welcome back!

For evidence, read:

Okay, Maybe Eggs Aren’t the Enemy After All

Scramble back to eggs! Forget those high cholesterol warnings, they're healthier than ever, say experts

An Egg a Day Is A-OK

Recipe evidence:

Egg and Cheese Olé

Creamed Eggs

Scrambled Eggs with Sour Cream