WASHINGTON—According to a trend analysis conducted by leading sociologists, most Americans, rather than eating a series of meals with breaks in between, are now eating one continuous, uninterrupted meal throughout the day.
“What we’re seeing is that for the majority of citizens, the process of eating now begins the instant they awake in the morning and then continues ceaselessly through the entire day until the instant they go to sleep,” sociologist Donald Sims told reporters Monday, noting that at no point during their waking hours are Americans not in some stage of consuming a food product. “In other words, a meal will not end after a food item, or plate of food items, has been eaten, but will instead continue uninterrupted for the next 16 hours or so.”
Experts said a conventional American meal now starts around 6 or 7 a.m. and consists of several dozen eggs per eater, along with 2 to 3 pounds of bacon and/or sausage and a 5-pound bag of potatoes, all washed down with 12 to 20 cups of coffee. It then transitions around noon into the diners’ preferred varieties of sandwiches, soups, stews, cooked meats, macaroni and potato salads, chips, and french fries, as well as several 2-liter bottles of soda or, on weekends, a 24-pack of beer.
By evening, sociologists confirmed, this continuous stretch of consumption, now known simply as “Meal,” is commonly eaten at or delivered by a restaurant, and ingested from early evening until bedtime, which today is defined as the hour at which the food runs out.
“In the past, most Americans would break down their eating into distinct meals, delineated as breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said Sims, referring to the now antiquated morning, afternoon, and evening feeding times. “That has of course been replaced by Meal. The advantage of this single feeding period is that it allows a person to simply continue eating no matter what time of day it is, without having to worry about stopping at any point, or for any reason.”
The trend is believed to have started in the American Midwest, before gradually spreading over the past decade to all regions of the country and finally becoming national orthodoxy, according to the sociologists’ 400-page, marinara-stained report.
The trend analysis indicates that more conservative U.S. eaters will sometimes take a break of up to 30 minutes during Meal. Most commonly, that interval is devoted to acquiring more food, any cooking that may be necessary, and watching food-based television programming. Bathroom breaks, researchers noted, have not constituted a pause in Mealtime since the invention of the Rubbermaid Bathroom Snack’n Barrel, now standard in most American homes.
Asked if common human activities such as bathing, housecleaning, and sexual intercourse do not also provide interruptions from eating, sociologists answered, “No.”
“Whether they are at work, with friends, commuting, or even napping, most Americans have found there is no conceivable reason to cease the act of consuming food,” sociologist Mark Brand said as he ladled a bowl of corn chowder into his mouth. “Americans have prioritized their lives such that no other activity is deemed even remotely as important as eating, and in fact, many people have found that they can, with some adequacy, perform a variety of different tasks while simultaneously consuming food.”
Responding to the trend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its nutritional recommendations into a succinct set of guidelines built around the concept of Meal. The department recommends a well-balanced Meal consisting of “many different kinds of food, eaten both continuously and as quickly as possible.” It is recommended that Americans not leave the room for dessert, and that they then consume dessert anyway.
In addition, the USDA has strongly cautioned that Mealtime conversation be avoided, as it can negatively impact one’s ability to eat food.
When reached for comment on this trend, Dayton, OH construction worker Frank Burnley offered his thoughts.
“It’s [unintelligible],” Burnley said. “I eat [unintelligible].”