Meatloaf Was Once A Breakfast Food

When it comes to polarizing cuisine, nothing stands out quite like the humble meatloaf. Some claim there's no comfort food like it, while others find the thought of this medley of ingredients revolting. It could have to do with how many variations of meatloaf exist. In a sense, meatloaf is simply a meatball in an almost bread-like form. The classic American version most are familiar with is usually a mix of cooked ground beef, vegetables, eggs, and breadcrumbs baked with a ketchup glaze. Other takes on meatloaf, like kibbeh, are made with lamb or goat and mixed with various Middle Eastern spices. Whether you like meatloaf or not probably depends on what kind of adaptation you've tasted in the past.

The epitome of kitchen sink meals, meatloaf is such a diverse dish nowadays that you can find a meatloaf recipe with almost any ingredient under the sun. There are even breakfast meatloaf recipes for a crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside shot of protein in the morning. And while that may sound odd, when meatloaf gained popularity in the late 19th century in the U.S., it was a breakfast dish. It was a way of extending a budget and getting all the energy you would need in the morning for the day ahead.

Meatloaf's origins as a breakfast staple

Many believe that meatloaf's origin story starts back in medieval times. Back then, it wasn't so much a loaf as it was a patty made with a blend of fruit, nuts, and various spices. Around the 5th century, Romans were making a version of meatloaf with pine nuts and wine-soaked bread. Germans later started adding boiled eggs into their rendition of meatloaf.

Eventually, Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania started making an interpretation of meatloaf called scrapple. After a pig was butchered, all the choice cuts were set aside. Then was the time to scrape the bones for any remaining meat. These scraps were mixed into a broth with the heart, lungs, and liver before adding cornmeal and seasonings. All of these ingredients were then pressed into a slab, and once the mixture had set, individual pieces were sliced and pan-fried for serving. With pork at its core, this distant relative of meatloaf was the perfect breakfast for a quick injection of protein before a long day of typically physical work.

As America endured The Great Depression, meatloaf gained popularity because of its ability to stretch a small number of provisions. During World War II, meatloaf's status among the American public rose again because war rationing meant that families were only allowed to purchase limited quantities of certain foods. Meatloaf remained popular long after with its reputation for delivering a healthy dose of protein in the morning without going broke.

Comfort food in the morning

By the 1950s, Betty Crocker was featuring meatloaf recipes, and cookbooks were coming out with dozens of intriguing ways to upgrade this once predominant culinary essential. As meatloaf transitioned into a diner staple, it took on many variations, and most don't think of it as a breakfast item anymore. But meatloaf for breakfast may be making a comeback. Many people still enjoy meatloaf for an early meal, and you can find specific breakfast meatloaf recipes in many different cookbooks. For people on the keto diet, keto meatloaf recipes for the morning are a great way to break your overnight fast without loading up on carbs.

As polarizing as it may be to some, others will staunchly defend meatloaf as comfort food at its best. And what better way to start the day than with a comforting meal? Pan-fry yourself a slice of meatloaf in the morning for a breakfast that will give you the energy you need to get through the day.