Wall Street Journal article sparks backlash after suggesting people ‘skip breakfast’ to save money

A Wall Street Journal article headline has sparked backlash after suggesting people who wish to save money should try skipping breakfast due to the increasing prices of many breakfast foods.

On 14 February, the WSJ published the article, titled “To Save Money, Maybe You Should Skip Breakfast” by journalist Gabriel T Rubin as part of the newspaper’s ongoing coverage of the consumer-price index and inflation rates.

The short piece appears to inform readers about the “sharp price increases” of breakfast mainstays like eggs, juices, cereal, and coffee. A number of factors are to blame for the skyrocketing price of breakfast foods, like a deadly avian flu that has devastated flocks of chickens.

Rubin writes that “Florida orange growers are harvesting their smallest crop in nearly 90 years” due to a “freeze, two hurricanes and a citrus disease” that caused frozen and noncarbonated juices and drinks to rise by 1.5 per cent in one month.Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the prices of cereal to jump slightly.

While the article doesn’t necessarily implore readers to cut out what’s famously known as the most important meal of the day, it seemed social media users were outraged by the article’s presumptuous headline more so than its contents. Many people on Twitter seemed to take the headline literally and called out the Wall Street Journal for suggesting people cut out entire meals amid record-breaking food inflation.

After activist Nina Turner tweeted a screenshot of the article headline, one person tweeted in response: “Many poor families already do.”

“Remember when they said ‘breakfast was the most important meal of the day!’” pointed out someone else.

Another user simply replied by tweeting an infamous picture of socialite Paris Hilton wearing a shirt that reads, “Stop Being Poor”.

Someone else chimed in: “Maybe we should just skip eating altogether.”

As consumers have increasingly been told to make many broad lifestyle changes – such as outrage over gas stoves or the high carbon footprint linkage to consuming red meat – some people pointed out how corporations and industry monopolies should take the blame for higher prices rather than individuals.

“Turn the heating off. Limit your travelling. Don’t use a gas stove. Stop eating red meat. And now…skip breakfast,” tweeted political writer James Melville. “It’s all a bit Dickensian.”

“Memo to the media: Please don’t write about rising food prices without also mentioning corporate consolidation in the food and grocery industries,” added professor Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. “Instead of telling people to skip breakfast, give them the full picture.”

In late 2022, egg prices more than doubled due to a deadly bird flu outbreak, combined with soaring feed, fuel and labour costs. A shortage of eggs across the US and the UK last year also prompted supermarkets to ration supplies.

The Independent has contacted the Wall Street Journal for comment.