More Than Words: 14 Ways The New York Times Has Hated On Brunch Since 1939

Hold onto your eggs, we’re getting ready for Autostraddle’s International Brunch Weekend 8/23-24! Find a brunch meetup in your city or create your own by heading over to our events page. You can also load up on all things brunch by watching this space. From playlists to recommendations to personal essays, we’re writing all about the brunch experience. Get excited! BRUNCH.

more_than_words_web

Brunch (as a word, if not a concept) was introduced to the masses in 1895 via a cheerful polemic called “Brunch: A Plea,” written for a British hunting magazine by a gentleman named Guy Beringer. Beringer, an early brunch adopter, urged his readers to abandon the traditional evening- and stomach-clogging Sunday dinner in favor of an earlier, more flexible spread: brunch is better for “Saturday night carousers,” who couldn’t fathom leaving bed at breakfast time; it “makes you satisfied with yourself;” and it “sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” This compelling idea was picked up by the extremely popular magazine Punch, and soon enough, England’s masses were dining on kippers and mimosas at noonish. Basically, Beringer managed to write a trend piece that actually started a trend.

GREAT JOB GUY

GREAT JOB GUY

Ever since, other trend reporters have tried to mask their jealousy using a combination of naive intrigue and high-pitched exasperation (the genre’s house blend). The New York Times, predictably, has led the way in Hating Brunch for nearly a century. Here are fourteen snarky things one storied institution has to say about another.

1. “Sunday is a two-meal day [for] many heathens who concentrate on taking life easy. They sleep late [and] have a huge combination breakfast and luncheon.” (1939)

SO MANY HEATHENS

SO MANY HEATHENS

2. “Nothing in a meal of eggs, rich sauces, smoked fish, cheeses, fatty and salted breakfast meats and sugar or caramel-glazed pastries would be suitable for those who dine sensibly.” (1989)

NOPE NOTHING NOT ONE THING

NOPE NOTHING NOT ONE THING

3. “This column hopes that word “brunch” will pass into oblivion soon.” (1941)

IF BY OBLIVION YOU MEAN

IF BY OBLIVION YOU MEAN

4. “Turns a simple attempt to go out and eat on a Sunday afternoon into an unnecessarily precious ordeal.” (2005)

UNNECESSARY IS SUCH A STRONG WORD

THERE’S SOMETHING SO NECESSARY ABOUT THIS

5. “It is impossible to eat brunch on a Saturday, and while it is a harmless conceit to think you can, it is also quite an impossible one.” (1980)

CALL ME BEEP ME

CALL ME BEEP ME

6. “…that mutation eaten at midday…” (1975)

7. “The strange world of brunch continues to expand, generating bizarre new life forms… the always fluid boundaries of brunch have stretched to the breaking point.” (1998)

caption

IT’S THE MIMOSAPOCALYPSE

8. “…the word “brunch” may still strike certain ears as a profanation of the English language.” (1958)

BERT ONLY EATS PAPERCLIPS

“WHAT!? PIGEON EGGS BENEDICT!?”

9. [on "lupper," a potential brunch offshoot]: “I.. hope it dies aborning.” (1983)

LUPPER I'LL GODDAMN KILL YOU

LUPPER I’LL GODDAMN KILL YOU

10. “The lesson Mrs. Worth offered at one time on preparing brunches also was a failure.” (1959)

YA BURNT

YA BURNT

11. “When my turn came, I placed my modest order. ”One bagel?” she repeated incredulously. I nodded, and a look of understanding crept over her face. She realized that in the midst of all these communal brunchers, I was destined to spend a Sunday morning alone. She placed the lone bagel in a brown bag that seemed lavish in light of my meager purchase.” (1981)

(VIA SHUTTERSTOCK, DUH)

(VIA SHUTTERSTOCK, DUH)

12. “…not an authentic meal… has anyone ever broken up over brunch? No. The food is too soft and squishy, the atmosphere one of pleasantries.” (2005)

l_word_brunch

…BUT WE’VE BROKEN UP EVERYWHERE ELSE

13. “Brunch does not interest Cindie Lovelace, a Manhattan corporate lawyer.” (1986)

SHE WILL STEP ON IT WITH HER GIANT HEEL

SHE WILL STEP ON IT WITH HER GIANT HEEL

14. “It is called brunch, and it is weird.” (1998)

DAMN STRAIGHT

DAMN STRAIGHT.


This has been the thirty-seventh installment of More Than Words, where I take queer words of all sorts and smash them apart and see what makes them tick. Every week I dissect a different word, trying to figure out where it came from, how it has evolved, where it might be going, and what it all means. It’s like reading the dictionary through a prism. Feel free to send word suggestions to [email protected].

Header by Rory Midhani

Profile photo of Cara

Cara is a writing reading bicycling fiend and a lab mouse to the world. Sometimes she's also Hat Benatar. She lives in Jamaica Plain with five cool roommates and an ice cream machine, and is generally thinking about gender, words, sustainable biodiversity, and/or electric guitars. You can follow her on twitter @cjgiaimo if you want.

Cara has written 112 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Thumb up 3

    Please log in to vote

    This is gonna be a wildly unpopular opinion, but here goes…

    I agree with the New York Times here. Brunch is horrible. I have nothing against breakfast foods, but what if you want to eat a hamburger at noon on a Sunday and your favorite restaurant is only serving eggs?? What’s a girl gotta do for a hamburger these days?

    Also my awful ex-roommate used to use “brunch” as an excuse for why she couldn’t clean up the huge mess she and her friends made having a party at the house every Saturday night.

    Maybe brunch and I just didn’t get off on the right foot.

    • Thumb up 11

      Please log in to vote

      I think it’s important to get to know brunch on your own terms. Find a brunch that respects your time, tastes, and needs. Take it slow. Play the field. You’ll find several brunches, I think, that will appeal to you and that will eventually help erase the memories of the first, bad experiences.

      Brunch is worth it. Good luck!

    • Thumb up 2

      Please log in to vote

      I am totally with you; I also hate brunch. I don’t eat eggs and drinking during the day makes me nauseous. I’m a morning person who wakes up hungry, so I approach every brunch having already eaten breakfast several hours earlier. I am grateful for those few restaurants that have a burger or some shrimp and grits on their brunch menu so there is something I can eat for a meal that I can only really honestly call ‘lunch,’ even if everyone around me is eating waffles and drinking mimosas.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.