Why is a fry-up breakfast called a ‘full English’?

It is a traditional favourite and a miracle hangover cure. But from where did the fry-up originate? BBC History Revealed investigates...

A 'full English' breakfast

The ‘full English’ breakfast – made up of sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, toast and some black pudding, if you’re so inclined – is a firmly established national dish.

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Yet, while fried food has been eaten for centuries, the meal wasn’t adopted as ‘English’ until the 20th century. Its name grew as the meal was increasingly seen as an alternative to decidedly healthier ‘Continental’ breakfasts of pastries and fruit juices offered to tourists in Britain.

But the English aren’t the only ones claiming the fry-up. The ‘full Scottish’ includes potato scones, while the ‘full Welsh’ comes with laverbread cake and the ‘Ulster fry’ with soda bread, or there’s the Canadian ‘Lumberjack Breakfast’, complete with pancakes.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, historian and author Emily Brand

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This article was taken from the September 2015 issue of BBC History Revealed magazine