Senior citizens and breakfast

I’ve been a professional cook for many years, and over the years I’ve naturally made some observations of people’s eating habits. It’s especially interesting to see certain patterns in the way senior citizens eat. I hope somebody here can explain a few things to me (these aren’t criticisms - I’m honestly curious):

1 - Why do so many senior citizens seem to want to eat breakfast for every meal of the day? I’ve had numerous customers over the years who will go to the same restaurant 2-3 times a day to eat, and always order from the breakfast menu, no matter what the time of day and despite the fact that they’ve already eaten breakfast once or twice that day. I realize that some people simply prefer breakfast foods, but the numbers are disproportionately tilted toward senior citizens in this area.

2 - Many doctors tell their older patients to cut back on their fat and cholesterol intake, and give eggs and butter as examples of things to cut back on. Why doesn’t it occur to some seniors (maybe I should blame the doctors) that those examples are just that: examples. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten orders for breakfast where the senior wants Egg Beaters or egg whites, and no butter on his toast, and his hashbrowns fried with no oil - and then he wants me to pour country gravy all over everything. :rolleyes:

3 - What is up with “thin pancakes”? I constantly get orders for “thin pancakes”, and these orders always come from older customers. Most restaurants that serve breakfast use Krusteaz™ pancake mix. When properly mixed this stuff makes pancakes that rise while they cook, resulting in light, fluffy pancakes that are about half an inch thick. To get thin pancakes, you really have to water down the batter, and it can really be a pain when I’m very busy to have to stop, scoop some batter into different container and then run to the sink for water to thin it down (we breakfast cooks usually have a big bucket of batter made up ahead of time).

I’ve thought of a couple possible reasons for these “thin pancakes”:

  1. Dentures. They’re afraid that if they have to open their mouths wide enough to accept a normal-thickness pancake, their dentures will fall out. (I don’t seriously believe this one.)

  2. The Great Depression forced them or their parents to make really watery pancake batter, in order to stretch the flour and make it last longer. They simply became accustomed to eating pancakes like that, and think that’s the “right” way to make them. This fits with other things I’ve noticed - there are certain foods that were eaten during the Depression simply because they were very inexpensive. Nobody really liked them, but that was all they could afford. And so, again, they just grew accustomed to eating them and continue to order those things. Like liver & onions. I’ve never seen anybody of my generation (children of baby boomers) order liver & onions. It’s always seniors who order that.

(The thin pancake thing actually made for a good joke one day: one of my regular (and favorite) customers ordered his cakes like that, and looked into the kitchen to tell me himself. As a joke, I grabbed my meat tenderizing mallet and made like I was going to use it to flatten his pancakes. You probably know that a meat mallet has diamond-shaped points on the striking surface. Well, the customer looked at that and said, “Don’t do that! They’ll charge me for waffles!”)

Anyway, I’d ask my customers about these things, but I’m pretty sure I’d get answers along the lines of “Well, I just like it that way…”

I’m in my thirties, and I like all that stuff like liver and tripe, etc.

Another thing I’ve noticed with older folk is the formality of breakfast. My aunt is 80 and lives alone. Whereas I will have toast and coffee as I walk around the house doing stuff, or maybe a bowl of cereal, my aunt will sit down at the table and there will be a selection of little packets of cereal, milk decanted into a jug, and orange juice. Then when that’s finished, she will go and make toast, and come back with a selection of jam, marmalade, vegemite, and other stuff, and a plunger full of hot coffee. The whole thing takes quite a while, but it seems to be an important ritual for her.

I would conjecture that old people are cheap. Come on, you know what I mean – speaking in generalities. They’re on “fixed incomes” (not like mine varies, either), and breakfast is virtually always much, much cheaper than other meals. Every place has a “Grand Slam” type of meal for $2.99 that includes coffee. By time you step up into a BLT or even crappy “steak” you’re in the $6 price range and higher.

I think at least part of this has to do with we valuable most that which is least available.

If there was a meal eaten out or in leisure, it wasn’t breakfast. I don’t think many people consciously choose breakfast for this reason, but it is a strong subconscious factor. Eating breakfast at 2 PM or three times a day, now that’s luxury!

[b}Balthisar’s** conjecture makes sense to me, and I’d add a couple conjectures of my own (since I doubt there’s a verifiable, supported by sources type GQ answer to this):

  1. Sausage, poached eggs and white toast covered with country gravy has to be easier on the chompers than most of the lunch and dinner items.

  2. Old people who grew up in tough times may have been used to eggs several meals a day from early on. Back in the day, everybody who lived in a rural area had some chickens (after all, you could keep them for, well, chicken feed), and the eggs provided a simple, cheap and tasty meal. Even when I was a kid, my Mom would sometimes make ham and eggs for lunch (or “dinner”, as we called it).

I’ll be 67 a week from today so I don’t know if I qualify as a “senior citizen.” :slight_smile: I had breakfast at St. John’s Cafe this morning: a nice, thick and juicy hamsteak, eggs over easy, grits, and toast. Best grits you’ll ever taste at this restaurant. And a great thick slice of ham. Best restaurant in the area for breakfast. (Hey, not cheap; $11 with tip.)

I’ve always liked liver and onions, if done right. One of my favorite dishes, but not for breakfast.

Krusteaz™ pancake mix? Isn’t that a prepared batter complete with dry egg whites, milk solids, and yeast in the mix? All you need to do is add water. Is this what most restaurants use? Geez!

Light pancakes? Well, crepes are light pancakes and the French like it. So do I, especially with sour cream and strawberrys (aka blintzes). And I have my original teeth, thank you (except for the removal of my wisdom teeth and one other).

What was the question?

As for thin pancakes, I think barbitu8 is right - could they be asking for crepes? My gramma is mad for crepes, and we grew up eating them for lunch and dessert all the time.

Well, I suppose they could be trying to pretend they’re eating crepes, but since crepes are a completely different thing, made with a different kind of batter… I’ve only worked in one restaurant that offered crepes. The people asking for “thin” pancakes are usually regular customers who know we don’t serve crepes. And they eat them like pancakes - they don’t roll them up or anything.

And Krusteaz™ pancake mix is actually pretty good. As long as it’s mixed properly (which a lot of cooks don’t take the time to do). I did work in one restaurant that ordered in its own custom mix, but it was still “just add water” when we got it.

I once had an elderly man come into a restaurant very early one morning who wanted pancakes. Unfortunately, we had run out of pancake mix the day before, and were waiting for the truck to arrive with our food order. The man was utterly astonished that I couldn’t make him some pancakes from scratch. I explained that, if I had some flour I could probably make something from scratch, but we didn’t keep any plain old flour around… “You don’t have any flour either?” he exclaimed. Well, no… we don’t need it cuz we use these mixes…

There have also been a few instances of seniors not believing me when I tell them that we don’t fry their food in butter. They think I’m lying or something. Fact is, most restaurants stopped frying breakfast foods in butter at least 20 years ago. Instead, we fry in a low-fat, low-cholesterol, butter-flavored vegetable oil.

what exactly is a low-fat oil? :dubious:

I don’t think it’s just seniors-my parents are Boomers and my mom remembers eating eggs and pancakes some nights for dinner when she was little-especially on Fridays, when they couldn’t eat meat. (My family is Catholic). And my grandparents were already in their early teens when the Depression hit.

First comment I have is that anyone who is 70 or younger can be a senior citizen, but really doesn’t remember the Great Depression. We know what it was because as kids we heard enough about it, but nothing first hand.

I have never had more than one or two breakfasts in a day. I almost always have breakfast when I get up, so you might see me eating it at 1:00 P.M. but that is because I got up very late. Sometimes it just sounds good for dinner.

None of the OP applies to my dentures.

I hate sausage gravy and liver and onions. They used to think liver was good for you and you should eat it at least once a month. Now they say it is bad for you and don’t eat it more than once a month. I just love new discoveries like that one.

Flat pancakes is a new one on me. I thought that was when the pancakes turned out wrong.

IHOP serves breakfast all day long, and not just to seniors (who get a 10% discount if they ask for it).

If you eat liver exactly once a month, you can satisfy both theories. Liver contains many nutrients. The problem with it is that it is the detoxifying organ of the body and can also contain some toxins, but if you eat it in moderation, I don’t see where it would be bad for you.

Thin pancakes eaten as pancakes? Finnish pancakes. Long lineups at the two Finnish restaurants in town on weekend mornings for these.

I love liver and onions and I’ve never had to eat them out of necessity. In fact, I only eat them occasinonally (less than once a month) because so few restaurants will serve them and I have no real cooking skills. I love the flavor of the food, even though I know it’s high in cholesterol. (It is, by the way, a good source of iron.)

So, your observations suffer from the fact that you’ve probably never been to most places or seen most people. A common problem with all humans and all human observations. This is why scientists are so keen on repeatability and balancing out observational bias.

Are you talking about lefse (potato pancakes)? Or is that just a Norwegian thing?

But lefse isn’t really eaten as pancakes. It’s usually slathered with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, or possibly jelly, like crepes.

I believe this is the reason liver should not be eaten more often.

It is also the reason low fat diets say not to eat shrimp more than once a week.
Which has evidently been proven wrong
So once again there is a new finding I like.