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The Breakfast Conspiracy II

I have long been sceptical of the importance of breakfast and one of my more infamous early posts, long before the current incarnation of the site, was that setting out The Breakfast Conspiracy.  While intended solely as a humorous jab at those who (a) knocked my eating habits; or (b) subscribed to conspiracy theories, there has always been something unsettling about the way people mindlessly repeat the “most important meal” mantra with no explanation, yet a fervour bordering on the religious. I mean it practically screams conspiracy. The truth, I knew, was out there.

Recently, tumbling down one of those impossible-to-avoid Internet research rabbit-holes, I discovered some revealing information.  Our story begins with Edward Bernays, whom those in advertising will know as “the father of public relations” and a pioneer in propaganda. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and combined his uncle’s psychoanalytical ideas with the crowd psychology theories of Le Bon and Trotter.

Bernays’s belief was that the public democratic judgement was unreliable and had to be “guided from above”. Of course, this “guidance” was primarily in the interest of the corporations that hired him, like the American Tobacco Company. He viewed the public as a “herd that needed to be led” and, more worryingly, described his opinion-moulding techniques as the “engineering of consent”.

What does any of this have to do with breakfast, you may be wondering? Well, one of Bernays’s less prominent clients was the Beech-Nuttagum Packing Company, which was experiencing serious financial losses due to its relatively new food product, bacon, not selling particularly well to an American public used to eating very little in the morning.

And so Bernays, using the psychological techniques he had acquired, approached a medical doctor and asked a few innocuous, leading questions along the following lines:

  1. Does the human body expend energy in the night during sleep?
  2. Does the human body need energy during the day to complete day-to-day tasks, labour, etc.?
  3. Would it make sense to eat a hearty breakfast as opposed to a light breakfast in order to provide the body with energy?

Having secured one positive response, he circulated it around 5,000 doctors, of whom 4,500 were willing to support the opinion. This was then fed to the newspapers as health advice: 4,500 doctors agree a hearty breakfast provides the energy needed to sustain activity. Of course, bacon and eggs* were subtly suggested as a part of that meal, and his client’s financial woes were history. Meanwhile, this spurious but highly profitable medical advice morphed into the maxim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Indeed, it is now so widely repeated that the corporations with a vested interest in our breakfasting barely need to “remind” us themselves.

*Do not misinterpret this as a knock against bacon and eggs: they are fantastic foods for brunch. Or as a hangover cure. But then it is medicine.

The Breakfast Conspiracy

And the award for Best Argued Case in a Pointless Role goes to… The Breakfast Conspiracy. You all know how sometimes I get an idea into my head which I don’t really believe much at all, but feel like arguing just for the sake of it (don’t look at me like that: I’m a lawyer, what do you expect?), and I end up really quite attached to the notion. Well, the most recent particularly well-articulated example is the aforementioned conspiracy, and I thought I’d share it with you here.

I don’t believe in breakfast. You see, far from being the most important meal of the day, breakfast doesn’t actually exist. Oh sure, that’s what they want you to believe, but in fact the truth is far more sinister. The name itself gives away the fact it is both a recent and artifcial construct; clearly one could not ‘break fast’ unless the norm involved a fast in the first place. So if our ancestors were able to function perfectly well without gorging themselves so early in the morning, how can it possibly be so important, let alone essential.

The question you must ask yourself is, “who benefits from this so called ‘break-fast’?” The answer is both transparent and unsurprising: the very corporations who designed this pseudo-meal. Yes, every time you eat a “breakfast” you pay towards these commercial giants, such as K.E.L.L.O.G.S. (Kill Everyone Living Logically with Our Great System) and N.E.S.T.L.É. (Nobody Eats Stuff To Live Efficiently) for the nutritionally questionable food you consume (they can’t even state cohesively whether it should consist of carbohydrate or fibre or fruit or just a mug of cow-juice…so naturally they produce them all and leave you, the confused and helpless consumer to decide!)

So is this highly organised long-term project solely a profiteering scam? If only it were. In fact these corporations are targeting no less a goal than world domination. How? Well, what may appear to be a simple meal is a carefully disguised ploy to control the masses. Waking groggy and dazed in the morning, immediately you are presented with this utterly unnecessary choice between dozens of cereals, toast, eggs (boiled, fried, scrambled or omelettes) and much more. This system is designed purely to confuse and reduce the functional efficiency of every human being on the planet – or rather – those human beings unaware of the conpsiracy.

In recent years some have come to realise that this extraneous meal is entirely unnecessary, forcing the corporations to adapt to this new threat in the form of the cereal bar. A carefully constructed product that is more convenient than the standard cereal but still attempts to confuse the consumer through the range of flavours and styles, along with “low fat” varieties as if this somehow makes eating this extra meal “healthy”.

So rise up, my friends, and join me and the other few enlightened in challenging the companies who claim to have brought you the most important meal of the day. Show them that we do not blindly eat at allocated times purely because that is what we have been told. Challenge the evil consortium of corporations. Boycott Breakfast!

"Luck is the residue of design."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2021 Priyan Meewella

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