TASTY TRAVELS: Breakfast getting more attention

The most important meal of the day is getting more attention lately.
In 2008, Americans ate breakfast at restaurants in record numbers, according to the NPD Group’s 23rd Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America.
It’s a big change from 2002 when breakfast, or a morning meal/snack, generated 18 percent of total daily restaurant traffic, according to Restaurants USA magazine.
In 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau found that less than $1 out of $10 was spent between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. at full-service and limited-service restaurants and cafeterias combined.
It’s a different story in China, where more than half of all food-service traffic happens before 9 a.m., according to NPD. Lunch makes up 13 percent of restaurant traffic in China and dinner makes up 12 percent.
In China, the most popular breakfast meal is steamed or pan-fried buns and soybean milk, NPD says.
In the U.S., the most popular breakfast meal is a breakfast sandwich, with sales for the item growing 8 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with last year.
Other popular items include eggs, bacon, doughnuts, potatoes and bagels.
The frequency of eating out for breakfast varies for each region in the country. The NPD group says it’s most popular for Southerners.
But the economy is taking a toll. Breakfast sales figures for restaurants from the quarter that ended in May are down 3 percent compared to the same quarter last year. They dropped 7 percent on the weekend and 1 percent during the week.
Midscale restaurants are taking the brunt of the cutbacks, with breakfast sales dropping 9 percent.
Yet, many restaurants are hanging in there with their breakfast offerings, continuing to flip pancakes, fry eggs and bake biscuits. Here are six eateries that readers nominated worth checking out.

What’s for Breakfast?
• The most popular breakfast food in America is the breakfast sandwich.
• Eggs rank second among breakfast foods.
• Bacon ranks first in the breakfast-meat category, followed by sausage.
• Doughnuts lead the bread/sweet-roll category, followed closely by bagels and sliced bread/toast.
• Potatoes far outsell grits as a morning-meal accompaniment.
• There are distinct regional favorites among breakfast-oriented items. For example, the bagel breakfast sandwich is most popular in the East, while the West favors the breakfast wrap/burrito.
• Purchasing the morning meal at a restaurant is more popular with men than women and with consumers older than 35.
• In 2001, an individual breakfast ticket at a restaurant averaged $3.88. It was $3.16 at quick-service restaurants and $6.06 at full-service eateries.
Source: Restaurants USA and The NPD Group’s 2008 study, Eating Patterns in America

Other Tasty Travels stories
Click here for breakfast stops in Northeast Mississippi.

Click here for Forks in the Road – Breakfast.

Click here for more of the Tasty Travels series.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio