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If you stay at a hotel, you will likely be offered some type of continental breakfast. It sounds delicious, but only if you’ve never had it before.

When you get down to the breakfast room in the morning, you will find out that it just consists of some cereal, muffins, fruit, and maybe some bacon and eggs.

Photo: Pixabay/FREe-Photos

This leads many people to wonder, why do they call it a continental breakfast? It’s not as if we serve a continental breakfast at home, even if many of the breakfast foods are available to us at our place of residence.

You actually have to go back to the early 1800s to learn a little more about a continental breakfast. Most families who were beginning to amass a little bit of wealth had access to more items for breakfast, including fish, meat, eggs, cereal, fruit, and bread. They might also have plenty of condiments to choose from as well.


In the United States, some of the common meats were sausage, ham, and bacon. Oats and grits were also popular items, but you could find many bread items on the breakfast table at that time.

Back in the early 1800s, many in the United States worked hard on a daily basis. Some of them worked in factories and others worked on small farms that were owned by the family. They could handle such a carbohydrate-rich smorgasbord every morning without packing on too much weight.

As you enter into the late 1800s or the early 1900s, you find that a lot of people in the United States were entering into a city or town. At that point, small farms were still being used, but many people were growing into the middle class and had less strenuous jobs.


They might’ve been somebody working at a farm, and suddenly, their family was living in the city and now they were a shopkeeper or perhaps even had a desk job. They had to adjust their calories, so the large breakfast that was full of carbohydrates was no longer fashionable.

There were also a lot of people traveling from England and elsewhere in the world and they were bringing their own style of breakfast with them. For most Americans, the thought of eating baked beans for breakfast is not necessarily at the top of their list but for someone from England, it is considered delicious.

By the mid-1800s, the influences from other countries were beginning to reduce how much breakfast people were eating. Although a typical British breakfast may have been heavy, the influence of the French had it shifted more toward eating a danish with a cup of coffee.


As Europeans traveled to the United States, they would stay in hotels and they wanted a little taste of home. The hotels in America would tailor the breakfast in order to match some of their desires, and it soon got mixed in with what Americans ate and became more of a continental breakfast.

Of course, this is something that occurred over time and it actually took a century or more for it to fully catch on. Since that time, however, the continental breakfast has been a part of our world and it is still something that we look forward to (or don’t look forward to) when we stay at a hotel.

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