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.
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.
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)
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)
3. “This column hopes that word “brunch” will pass into oblivion soon.” (1941)
4. “Turns a simple attempt to go out and eat on a Sunday afternoon into an unnecessarily precious ordeal.” (2005)
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)
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)
8. “…the word “brunch” may still strike certain ears as a profanation of the English language.” (1958)
9. [on “lupper,” a potential brunch offshoot]: “I.. hope it dies aborning.” (1983)
10. “The lesson Mrs. Worth offered at one time on preparing brunches also was a failure.” (1959)
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)
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)
13. “Brunch does not interest Cindie Lovelace, a Manhattan corporate lawyer.” (1986)
14. “It is called brunch, and it is weird.” (1998)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header by Rory Midhani