- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

Heavens, what's this?
The glorious "full" English breakfast is no more. Eggs, bacon, fried bread, tomato slices, kippered herring and other goodies so dear and destructive to the British heart may be fading out of the kingdom.
The big English breakfast is, well, not so big anymore.
It has been replaced, say researchers at the London-based Datamonitor, by such wimpy fare as fruit smoothies, croissants, muffins and granola. Life has just gotten too frantic for the heavy delights of 1776 when author Samuel Johnson was the first to chronicle the traditional English breakfast.
"Enough bacon to feed a hungry army," he noted in an account of breakfast in a London town house centuries ago.
Time marches on.
"'Deskfast' fare such as cereal bars and, God forbid, fruit are preparing to dance on Full English's grave," the new study by the Datamonitor group said upon its release Friday. The group is a business information company specializing in helping prominent global companies in the consumer markets and health care sectors.
This change is akin to telling a Southern gent that his grits are taboo or a New Yorker that bagel and lox are kaput. Them there's fightin' words.
"I hope that reports of the demise of the English breakfast have been greatly exaggerated," one diplomat in the British Embassy said Friday.
"It is a cultural institution and one whose demise would be greatly mourned. Why, I know people who love our breakfast so much that it is the first thing they run for when they get home, sometimes right when they land at the airport," he said.
It is the black puddings a sliceable sausage, actually that Britons pine for, he said, not to mention a certain plain variety of Heinz tinned beans.
"All of it we hold dear," the diplomat sighed.
The British affectionately call their breakfast a "fry-up" and for good reason. There are fried eggs, fried tomato slices and exquisitely sinful wedges of fried bread. Mushrooms, sausages, trout, apple slices, kidneys and other goodies are also thrown into the saute pan for good measure.
Medical researchers at Scotland's Aberdeen University have released their own breakfast study, revealing that lovers of the fry-happy English breakfast and hot tea had twice the chance of developing cancer of the esophagus as the toast-and-cereal set.
"R.I.P. Full English breakfast," the BBC declared Friday, adding that there were "rumors that Full English's evil foreign enemies [Swiss muesli, French croissants and American muffins] had a hand in the death."
The breakfast was survived, the BBC noted, by the "Full Scottish" and the "Ulster Fry" versions, however.
Though busy and perhaps more health-conscious, the Brits may be loath to give up the big meal altogether. After all, it inspired "Monty Python" comedy sketches, not to mention a feature film titled "Full English Breakfast," about "England's most famous contribution to world cuisine," said filmmaker Stephen Kemp.
Britain is not alone in its breakfast angst, however.
Several American studies say a wise breakfast helps both attention span and immunity and can contribute to weight loss. The insurance group Blue Cross/Blue Shield polled a thousand of its members to find that 46 percent ate breakfast at home, 30 percent at the office, 16 percent ate none at all and 9 percent gobbled it on the run.
To demonstrate that decent breakfasts are warranted, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology polled its Nobel Prize winners in recent years to determine what they ate for their first meal, hoping to determine "the true breakfast of champions."
The results? All of them ate fresh fruit, cereal, juice, black coffee and the occasional bagel or muffin.
Researchers with the British group Datamonitor, meanwhile, remain philosophical about their findings about Brits and their breakfasts.
"We have particularly embraced the new cereal bar," project director Daniel Lord told the Evening Standard. "They fit with our lifestyles but make us think we are going for a healthy option."

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