Why Hollywood Might Be Responsible For Brunch In The US

For many people, brunch is a lifestyle staple. The meal has a sort of leisurely glamour and serves as a way to unwind after a long week. However, Americans haven't always spent their Sundays eating eggs benedict and drinking fruity cocktails with friends.

Smithsonian Magazine writes that, while nobody knows exactly where the meal originated, one theory argues that brunch stems from the elaborate breakfasts British elites ate after hunts. Others maintain that the idea of Sunday brunch is rooted in Catholicism. Traditionally, Catholic families would fast before mass and eat a large midday meal to compensate.

Despite the confusion, historians have traced the word back to a specific source. The word first appeared in print in an 1895 essay by English author Guy Beringer, titled "Brunch: A Plea." In his essay, Beringer argued that brunch was the perfect meal to indulge in after a hard night of drinking, and suggested that a leisurely meal with friends was a fun alternative to spending Sunday in church.

It seems Beringer was a fan of the "hair of the dog" hangover approach — he suggested beer and whiskey as an alternative to coffee and tea. While this may not be an effective hangover cure, it did establish the precedent of brunch as an opportunity to day drink.

Hollywood celebrities likely popularized the meal

Brunch started catching on in America in the 1930s, according to Vinepair. At the time, transcontinental railroad trips favored by Hollywood celebrities and wealthy elites often made late-morning stops in Chicago. Since restaurants were closed on Sundays, Chicago hotels started offering brunch as a satisfying respite from travel. The New York Times writes that brunch in Chicago's famous Pump Room soon became a place to socialize and be seen. After WWII, when Americans started to forgo church, the meal became popular as an alternate way to socialize.

Brunch is now thoroughly mainstream, but The Washington Post reports that it's still on the rise. Google searches for the word have steadily grown in the past few years, typically spiking around Mother's Day and Easter.

While brunch was partially popularized in the city of Chicago, where it remains popular to this day, statistics show that the meal is significantly more popular on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. than in the Midwest.

The article notes that the popularity of brunch correlates to places with disposable income, where people can afford to drop money on bottomless mimosas and French toast. Despite its upper-class origins, brunch can still be an affordable meal. After all, taking time off for a leisurely meal in the company of friends and family is a simple pleasure that you don't have to be a Hollywood star to afford.