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17 ways breakfast is changing America

From beet yogurt to pancakes on a stick, the meal is defining a generation.
/ Source: TODAY

If you’ve felt a subtle shift in your morning routine lately, you’re not alone. Breakfast, the meal once so forgotten that we needed to be constantly reminded of its importance, has now taken a front-seat spot in our meal roster.

To get to the bottom of why, the NBC News Insights group conducted a survey of nearly 4,000 TODAY viewers to ask them about their routines. The results: Breakfast is more important than ever. Here’s what our survey revealed about how breakfast is changing America.

1. It’s making us healthier

If your ideal breakfast is a plate of bacon and eggs, there's no judgment here. But eight out of 10 viewers agree that having a breakfast routine helps them be healthy and want ideas for making breakfasts healthier, according to our survey. Plus, 86 percent of them are eating breakfast every day. No worries if you’re not ready to swap home fries for spinach popsicles.

2. It’s changing our idea of a healthy breakfast

Folks are putting down the egg whites and picking up the butter. No, seriously: The popularity of bulletproof coffee — java that’s made with a pat of melted butter — has spawned an actual diet based around the incredibly popular trend. And news out of the 2017 Winter Fancy Food show revealed that protein bars containing meat are hitting the market.

3. It’s the new family time

Seventy-six percent of viewers agree that these days, “morning family time is just as important as dinner time.” And it’s no wonder: Busy work schedules and after-school activities are increasingly make “family dinner” a long-gone fantasy. Also, breakfast is the meal that is easiest for parents to control, points out Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon.

4. It’s redefining the labor lines at home

According to TODAY’s survey, it’s dads who are cooking breakfast more and more, citing “bonding time” with kids as a reason to fire up the skillet every morning.

5. It’s the new business lunch

Sure, you might drip hollandaise sauce on your power suit, but for many business-minded folks, breakfast is outpacing lunch as the best meal for meetings. Why? For starters, “it does not take up or break up your day,” Richard Coraine, chief of staff at Union Square Hospitality Group, told TODAY. And since we’re more productive first thing in the morning, according to psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, there’s no better time to wheel and deal.

6. It’s changing our vocabulary

Who would have thought we’d be spooning cashewgurt (cashews + yogurt) at a buzz bar (a coffee bar that also serves alcohol) and requesting a Nitro coffee latte (when milk is added into a pressurized cold brew from a tap)? Not us, but here we are.

7. It’s influencing our style

We are loving our coffee so much that we’re actually accessorizing our social media posts with cappuccinos, cortados and more. The phenomenon is bound to hit your Instagram feed soon, so get up to speed.

8. It’s our new favorite "me" time

One out of two TODAY viewers considers the morning to be “me” time, according to our survey. And breakfast offers a way to start the day “the right way.” For many, it’s the best time to focus on wellness.

9. It’s the new first date

Why not meet a potential mate when we’re looking and feeling our freshest? “I see it all the time,” chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar told TODAY Food. Millennials in particular are increasingly choosing to meet over breakfast or coffee instead of drinks.

10. It’s the new happy hour

Blame adulting: Instead of partying until the wee hours of the night, wellness-minded people are taking the early-bird approach. “It’s become chic to get up early and have breakfast,” said Marcelo De Biasi, manager at Bluestone Lane Collective Cafe in New York City.

11. It’s broadening the beverage menu

Vanilla bean limeade. Beet and turmeric lattes. Chai and cold-brew floaters. Remember when we were talking about these a few years ago? Neither do we.

12. It’s reinventing fast food

Customers recently went berserk when McDonald's started serving its cherished breakfast menu all day. At Sonic, you can get pancakes on a stick. And 7-Eleven sells pizza for breakfast (this is also available cold on Saturday mornings at most homes in America). We’re so bonkers for breakfast, we want it quickly, and brands are adapting.

13. It’s expanding our cultural palate

If you haven’t tried delicious chilaquiles from Mexico, or slurped a bowl of Vietnamese pho first thing in the a.m., it’s time to join the growing club: One in four TODAY viewers looks for non-traditional breakfast ideas.

14. It’s changing our nighttime routine

“What’s great about breakfast today is you can eat it anytime you want,” said chef Jessica Koslow of SQIRL in Los Angeles. That means that as breakfast-for-dinner is growing in popularity, so is prepping breakfast the night before, whether you’re switching on the slow-cooker for overnight oats or placing a jar of chia pudding to set in the fridge.

15. It’s defining a new generation

The baby boomers had their eggs, hash browns and toast, and the Gen X-ers slurped cereal in front of the TV. For Millennials, avocado toast and acai bowls are one day going to elicit feelings of nostalgia.

16. It’s driving innovation

Breakfast is inspiring new gadgets and tech. That likely comes as no surprise to 77 percent of TODAY viewers, who said they’re seeking out new products to simplify their morning routines, from blenders that speed up smoothies to delivery services like UberEats.

17. It’s boosting creativity

In the recent past, it was totally OK to slop some oatmeal in a bowl and call it a day. But with friends and family watching on Instagram, the pressure is on to make your food pretty. And it's not just good looks we’re after: Seven out of 10 viewers are interested in stories like “50 different breakfast bowls” and “5 things to do with bananas,” to put creative twists on their old standbys. We’re looking at you and your peanut butter eggs, Scott Foley.