Research: The Brunch Backlash

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
We are always in the midst of a lot of shifting social conventions. You never know what aspect of society these shifts will affect, and in an odd twist of fate, the ostensibly simple concept of brunch has become a big target.

A target of what? You name it. Sometimes, it’s singled out as the purview of irresponsible people with nothing more productive to do with their time. Chefs are accused of using brunch as an excuse to peddle substandard food, and diners are accused of using brunch as an excuse to eat without the courtesies afforded to the other meals of the day (tipping, for example).

There’s also the big matter of race and class privilege. It's tough to articulate, and I’m finding it tough to land on a position in regards to protesters’ tactic of interrupting diners’ brunches in order to address issues such as police brutality. It’s definitely an issue worth addressing, and the activists have a point when they point out that brunch is a public gathering at which a lot of affluent people who feel unaffected by the conflict tend to gather. Getting their attention is precisely the goal. It’s just such a strange situation we find ourselves in, in which it’s considered safe to assume that someone who’s done nothing more than go out to eat waffles must either be uneducated or uncaring.

Even leaving that aside, brunch has been facing some tough critics lately, not least of which springs from an article in the New York Times, which proudly proclaimed that “Brunch Is for Jerks“. Lots of people jumped into the fray after that, complaining about the self-entitled hipsters who pat themselves on the back for being so awesome as they guzzle their bottomless mimosas. Or they wrote about how terrible brunch is for the poor, overworked service industry.

If you’re a fan of brunch, take heart. Defenders have started swinging back against the haters.

All of these overwrought articles have left me more puzzled than anything else. I’m neither smug with satisfaction that these brunch-eating jackasses are finally getting what’s coming to them, nor am I angry at the snarky writers taking aim at these innocent diners just trying to enjoy some eggs and a drink with friends. It’s more a wonder at just how symbolic brunch has become for highlighting so many American social issues.

Who knows how much further the battle will go? Perhaps “Bloody Mary” will take on a terrifyingly literal meaning as the war over brunch gets waged.