The Most Important Part of a Full English Breakfast

Guess which breakfast food 9 out of 10 people can't live without.

English Breakfast
Photo: © Daniel Krieger / Getty Images

Beans, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, bacon, eggs, black pudding—of all the components that make up a classic full English breakfast, nearly nine out of 10 people in England agree that bacon is the most important.

A recent survey conducted by YouGov of nearly 2,000 respondents in the UK found that 89 percent of people consider bacon to be an "essential" part of their quintessential morning meal. Bacon narrowly beat out sausage (82 percent), toast (73 percent), beans (71 percent), and fried eggs (65 percent) in the rankings—with chips, vegetarian sausage, pancakes, boiled eggs, and white pudding bringing up the rear.

The study, which included a roughly 50-50 male-female split in respondents, also revealed some divides along gender lines.

"Generally speaking, when compared to women, men were more likely to prefer any breakfast components that begin with the word 'fried' (bread, egg, tomato, mushrooms) as well as baked beans," the analysis points out. "Women, by contrast, tend to like items beginning with the word 'grilled' (mushroom, tomato) and poached eggs more than men do."

The study also reveals a generation gap—with young adults in the 18 to 24 age group expressing overwhelming preference for scrambled eggs compared to those aged 25 and older. Those in the 35-and-older category also selected black pudding as a must-have more frequently.

Important distinction to note: the YouGov survey was designed to cover English breakfasts only—"The full Scottish, Full Welsh, and Full Ulster are all distinct national variations of the full breakfast, this survey was conducted in England only."

"The British breakfast as we know it has its origins in the great country house breakfasts of the Victorian era, eaten before or after some form of manly field sport such as fox hunting," Henry Jeffreys explains. "Since the other meals in these country houses were French or French-influenced, breakfast, largely overlooked by the French, became a repository for British values of plainness and common sense. The common sense extended only as far as the dishes themselves not the gargantuan quantities in which they were consumed. A normal breakfast buffet might consist of eggs, bacon, sausage, chops, deviled kidneys, kedgeree, cold meats, meat pies, pastries, kippers and so on."

The buffet was later adapted for the sake of convenience: "The traditional breakfast, or Full English as it's now known, of bacon, eggs, sausage, fried bread, fried tomato and black pudding (blood sausage) is an imitation of this traditional feast with the crucial difference that it's served on one plate," Jeffreys writes. "Edwardian hotels probably invented the concept for middle class businessmen."

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