This article first appeared in the 1 November 2007 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
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Consumers continue to find eggs incredibly edible. Nearly 98% of breakfast-serving operators offer eggs in one form or another, and egg-based dishes take the first three spots on the list of breakfast items operators say are increasing in sales. Whether scrambled and wrapped up in a tor-tilla to make an easily held, drive-thru-friendly meal or fried up with diced ham and peppers for a savory Sunday-morning treat, eggs rule the roost at breakfast.
The hype over whole grains and yogurt apparently resonates with many diners, too. Yogurt ranks No. 4 on the increasing-in-sales list, and oatmeal/hot cereal grabs the No. 10 spot, just slightly ahead of yogurt parfaits.
The R&I Menu Census reveals additional insights into consumers' leading breakfast picks:
Omelets/frittatas: A customizable indulgence, omelets and frittatas are No. 4 on operators' best-sellers list and are the top increasing-in-sales item. The breakfast favorite is especially popular at family-dining restaurants; 44.7% of family-dining operators placed omelets among their top 3 best sellers, and more than one-third noted that omelet/frittata sales are trending upward.
Breakfast sandwiches with egg: McDonald's inspired combination of eggs, meat and bread at breakfast more than 30 years ago created a sensation that still wows diners. Versatile and filling, breakfast sandwiches offer diners portability and operators a point of differentiation.
More than one-quarter of breakfast operators (26%) report that sales of breakfast sandwiches are increasing. The popularity increase is slightly more marked (28.6%) among fine-dining establishments, which are catching on to a quick-service breakfast favorite.
Bacon: What better to accompany eggs than bacon? Smoked, peppered or maple-flavored, bacon takes the No. 2 spot on breakfast operators' best-sellers list. What's more, bacon earned its second-highest subgroup rating on that list from hospitals.
Pancakes/French toast: Diners are still showing some gusto for the griddle. Pancakes beat French toast by a decided margin on the best-sellers list-pancakes sit at No. 5; French toast ranks at No. 16, behind even bananas. French toast leads at fine-dining restaurants, casual-dining restaurants and schools; pancakes claim an advantage at family-dining restaurants, hotels and hospitals. -Christine LaFave, Associate Editor