Sometimes one breakfast isn't enough. So why not sneak in a second or a third?
On-the-go Americans increasingly are consuming their morning calories over several hours instead of sitting down to devour a plate of pancakes, bacon and eggs in one sitting. The case of the morning munchies is being fueled by the belief that it's healthier to eat several smaller meals instead of three squares a day.
What qualifies as a snack or a meal is a matter of perspective, of course. But food companies are rolling out smaller bites that feed the growing appetite for morning treats.
General Mills, Quaker Oats and others are adding to their lineup of breakfast bars and yogurts. Sara Lee's Jimmy Dean last summer introduced mini-breakfast sandwiches. And fast-food chains like McDonald's in recent years have expanded their breakfast menus to include morning snacks like smoothies and a fruit-and-walnut pack.
"It's breakfast in stages," says Liz Sloan, president of Sloan Trends, a food industry consulting group. "They'll eat something at home, then stop at Starbucks or a convenience store for coffee and maybe a little snack."
The deconstruction of breakfast is happening as more Americans eat their meals outside of the home. After all, it's easier and less time-consuming to pop a few snacks in your purse or backpack for later rather than to sit down for a prepared meal.
The number of times Americans snack is expected to rise faster in the morning than during the afternoon or evening between 2008 and 2018, according to the market researcher The NPD Group.
Turning the snacking habit into an all-day affair would be a major growth driver for the already massive snack food industry. Sales of all snack foods reached $16.64 billion in the past year.