It was after 4 o’clock and Myrtle my muse was late. “What kept you so long?” I asked peevishly.
“I was busy,” she responded curtly. “You know, I do have a life, and I also have other writers who need me. So if I took a little extra time with breakfast, don’t get tough with me, buster.”
From experience, I knew to keep my displeasure to myself from here on. “I’m glad to see you,” I said meekly.
“What are you going to write about?” Myrtle asked. Before I could answer: “I don’t know, and if I did know, why would I need a muse?” She gave me a look that froze my vocal cords.
“Breakfast,” she said. “Write about breakfast. One industry executive estimates it’s a $100 billion market, but no one really knows. Plus breakfast is capitalism with its most potent impact on American culture.”
“Breakfast is eggs or cereal,” I said. “What’ the big deal there?
“Competition, knuckle-head,” she said. “Did you ever walk down the cereal aisle at the grocery?
Look at all those choices. Feel the battle for shelf space. Is General Mills beating out Kellogg’s?
“You have to sense the power of liquid breakfast foods taking a bigger share in the market. Meanwhile the pancake and waffle packages are on the shelves in both the regular aisles and the frozen food cases. Eggs are teaming up with bacon and other meats to get your attention.
“Don’t forget the doughnuts,” she called as she made her exit. And I could just hear her say “milk versus coffee” as she faded away.
I was left thunder-struck. Quickly I fired up the computer and found bakingbusiness.com where I learned that “in the first half of fiscal 2014 General Mills will launch Vanilla Chex and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream, which will join the recently introduced Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch.”
Innovation in the cereal market just never stops.
This is not an American phenomenon; there is a strong international side to the breakfast industry. The same source informed me that Dunkin’ Donuts has plans for restaurants in major metropolitan areas of Turkey with anticipation of 100 establishments in the next 10 years.
This is the same chain that recently expanded into Guatemala, India and Vietnam. Dunkin’ has 3,200 franchise restaurants internationally, way ahead of Krispy Kreme’s 800 locations worldwide.
Sophisticated consumers around the world are now able to appreciate the variety and entertainment values of breakfast that Americans have known for years. No doubt nutritionists will question whether we are exporting bad food habits. However, others will praise the fact that American investors benefit from the freedom and growing wealth of other nations. We are not forcing anyone to eat what we eat for breakfast. We just make it available for those who want to enjoy our lifestyle and waistlines.
Did someone say I forgot McDonald’s?
Morton J. Marcus is an economist, writer and speaker formerly with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He can be reached at email@example.com.