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Article says to ‘skip breakfast’ to save money, sparking backlash

It may or may not be the most important meal of the day, but it's certainly the most controversial.
Breakfast says, "Please don't skip me."
Breakfast says, "Please don't skip me."TODAY Illustration / Steve Gadomski / Getty Images stock

It’s been hotly debated whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but, according to one recent article, it's definitely important — to the health of your wallet.

On Feb. 14, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “To Save Money, Maybe You Should Skip Breakfast” that has seemed to ruffle the feathers of both early birds and night owls alike. The write-up has incited comments and complaints exponentially greater than the article, which clocks in at a short-and-sweet 243 words.

“Several breakfast staples saw sharp price increases due to a perfect storm of bad weather and disease outbreaks—and continued effects from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” writes Gabriel T. Rubin, national economics reporter for WSJ, in the article.

“Breakfast lovers might be better off just having a cup of coffee—but go with roasted, not instant,” he later writes.

The article is less about what sustenance readers should forgo for financial well-being and more about how several breakfast staples are dealing with inflation. The article, part of WSJ’s live coverage of the consumer-price index for January, covers financial tidbits like how frozen, noncarbonated juices and drinks like orange juice, breakfast cereal and instant coffee are all dealing with rate hikes of up to 4% over the previous month.

Rubin also mentions that egg prices increased 8.5% from December 2022 to January and are up 70.1% year-over-year, the highest annual rate since 1973 — which is the cause of its own ire on social media and beyond.

A representative for WSJ declined to comment on the record, and Rubin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It's the headline, though, that people have taken the most umbrage with, with many folks sharing screenshots of it on Twitter and discussing, well, if not its substance, at the very least, its optics.

“Turn the heating off. Limit your travelling. Don’t use a gas stove. Stop eating red meat. And now…skip breakfast,” tweeted commentator James Melville. “It’s all a bit Dickensian.”

“Capitalism had now gone from ‘abundance for everyone’ to ‘starving is okay actually,’” tweeted another person.

“First it was ‘you’re poor because you drink coffee’ / Now its ‘you can’t be financially responsible by eating,’” tweeted yet another.

American professor, author, lawyer and political commentator Robert Reich also weighed in on the debate, saying in a short Twitter thread that industry near-monopolies are actually partly to blame for higher prices and should shoulder the burden instead of individuals.

“Memo to the media: Please don’t write about rising food prices without also mentioning corporate consolidation in the food and grocery industries,” Reich tweeted. “Instead of telling people to skip breakfast, give them the full picture.”

In the case of one breakfast staple — eggs — there are few factors to blame for the high prices, according to experts: inflation, supply chain issues and the deadliest avian flu outbreak in history. There have also been accusations of price gouging in the egg industry.

All in all, it seemed like most people on Twitter were reacting to the headline rather than the actual contents of the article, which many most likely didn't read, especially since it sits behind a paywall.

“Cheeky headline, but it’s actually just a straight news story about rising prices of breakfast staples, not an opinion piece suggesting not eating,” tweeted one person who read it, Christopher Spata, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m kinda disappointed tbh.”