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“Girl, You Ate That Up!”: The Sociological Phenomenon of Brunch

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

I am twenty-two years old, which means I have been a legal “adult” for some time now. I have to say, I agree with Julia Fox that it’s the trenches

But there is one thing, one little itsy-bitsy thing, that absolutely makes up for all the tribulations of being a young woman (at least the surface issues). That thing is brunch. 

I have yet to meet a college girl who has not fallen victim to the phenomenon of brunch, including myself. But while I am a willing prisoner to this late morning meal, I do have questions. Where did brunch come from? How many times am I allowed to have brunch per week? Per day? Why am I so mysteriously drawn to it? Why are you so drawn to it? Is brunch defined by the time of the meal, or the foods consumed during the meal? 

In this article, I probably won’t answer all those questions, but I might address some of them as I describe my most recent brunch experience at The Place 2 Be in New Haven, CT. 

Brunch was apparently “invented” by a British man named Guy Beringer in 1895 in an article titled “Brunch: A Plea.” In this article, Beringer bequests his readers to adopt a more casual midmorning meal, one that “allows people to recover from their Saturday night excesses and ease into Sunday before winding up for the beginning of the work week again.” Coincidentally, this is exactly what Gina Luari had in mind for the restaurant she founded, The Place 2 Be. Located in New Haven, a college town with teeming nightlife, this restaurant provides all-day breakfast everyday of the week, making it the best place to go when you sleep through breakfast after a night out. 

Although brunch began simply as a more casual, daytime dining option with less time restrictions, it certainly developed rapidly and assumed a role much grander than just a mealtime. It is now a pretty significant cultural phenomenon. 

Brunch is not about having food; it is about having experience. I can make myself french toast out of sandwich bread, eggs, and sugar in my dingy college apartment, but I cannot always make myself a gorgeous stack of thick french toast slices, made from artisanal bread, with fresh fruits, powdered sugar, syrup, and whipped cream at my beck and call. These two options might taste somewhat similar (if you are a better cook than me), but I would not get the social experience or the thoughtful presentation provided by a trendy restaurant. 

The Place 2 Be supplied me and my friends with both of these brunch necessities. First, all of the breakfast varieties were arranged with incredible attention to detail on the plates; even a strawberry smoothie was decorated with a kind of white-chocolate frosting on the rim. Brunch is definitely eating with your eyes before you eat with your mouth. Fortunately, I loved eating with my eyes and mouth that day. Second, The Place 2 Be has evolved with the times and definitely keeps up with all the latest trends for the interests of the national population. While brunch used to be just a more convenient dining experience, it is now primarily a social experience. Even if the food is really good, there just has to be that certain je ne sais pas (I don’t know any French). Regardless, The Place 2 Be has the formula for a great social experience down. It is filled with super interesting architectural features, such as graffitied brick pillars, glamorous light fixtures, a colorful bar with every kind of cocktail imaginable, and spaces for both intimate and large-party gatherings. Not to mention, if you are into social media (I personally have to delete my accounts during the school year because I’m too addicted), The Place 2 Be has brightly-colored walls, a hip interior design, and even a bathtub with a neon sign reading “Drink my bathwater,” which all provide inspiration for some really cute photos for your feed. Go ahead and sit in a bathtub in public while your friend takes pictures of you: You’re an influencer now! 

Despite my personal favor of brunch foods, my research for this article has informed me that it is an incredibly divisive meal. Critics claim that there is a “brunch industrial complex” plaguing big cities with overly expensive prices and hipster millennials. I can’t speak for every brunch restaurant, but The Place 2 Be was fairly inexpensive considering the location and volume of food, and there was nary a millennial in sight (that’s a lie but it was a very diverse crowd). 

That being said, I understand why a lot of people don’t enjoy brunch, or why there are so many controversial opinions surrounding it. It encourages day-drinking, it encourages a culture of laziness, and there is, weirdly, a correlation between the rising popularity of brunch and the decreasing attendance of Sunday church. But I think that as college students, we should allow ourselves the respite and luxury of brunch whenever possible. While I had a great time at The Place 2 Be, brunch can be just a lowkey and fun meal in bed at noon on a Sunday. Maybe some would go so far as to say that brunch can be a state of mind, and that any activity in the late morning that you do for your own luxury can be considered brunch? Maybe those two opinions think it’s time to create a two-party system for brunch: the traditionalist brunchers and the laissez-faire brunchers. I’m not picking sides.

Either way, we are eating brunch up and leaving no crumbs!

Hello! My name is Catherine (she/her) and I am a Classical Languages and Art History major at Connecticut College. I am also completing a Museum Studies Certificate Program here. I work as a curatorial and archival intern at the New London County Historical Society, and I love visiting museums and spending time around good (and bad) art.