History of National French Toast Day
Here’s the first thing you need to know: The French do not call this French toast. It’s called “pain perdu,” or “lost bread,” because you can literally use stale bread to make it. (Most Americans, however, might find that objectionable.)
French toast, according to Frenchly, comes from a desire to not waste food. Also, please note that it’s a major faux pas to throw bread way. (Bread has religious meaning.) Most experts agree that French toast dates back to ancient Rome. A similar recipe can be found in the book of Apicius from the 5th century BC. The Romans dipped slices of bread in milk (and sometimes eggs) before frying them, and called it “Pan Dulcis.”
Fast forward to the 1400s and you’ll find a similar recipe at the court of Henri V where the “lost bread” attracted many fans. Still, it wasn’t until the mid 17th century that the term “French Toast” appeared in England. Food historians believe the term “French” does not even mean France; instead, it refers to the verb “to French” which means “to slice” in Old Irish.
So, “French toast” is actually “sliced toast.”
Irish settlers traveling to the U.S. and Canada may have brought the term with them. The phrase “French toast” first appeared in The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink in 1871. However, similar recipes were also called “Egg toast,” “Spanish toast,” and even “German toast.”
There’s another less exotic theory. French toast may have been called “French” because it enabled chefs to inflate the price. “Traditionally in the United States, we have an admiration for French cuisine, which we consider elaborate and gastronomic,” says Kitchen Project Editor-in-Chief Stephen Block. “And that’s probably why this dish was named that way. It’s just marketing. There’s no chance that ‘Lost Bread’ could have worked. And since the dish was successful and the recipe was easy, the name spread.”
National French Toast Day timeline
An early collection of recipes, the "Apicius," describes a sweet treat known then as "aliter dulcia," or "another sweet dish."
Various recipes for what we call French toast spread the world over.
The "Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink" first includes the phrase "French toast."
A Seattle restaurant adds breakfast cereal to its French Toast recipe — which also includes milk, eggs, cinnamon, salt, butter, thick bread and whipped cream. (They use both Fruity Pebbles and Frosted Flakes.)
National French Toast Day FAQs
Is there a National Breakfast Day?
What is French toast?
French toast, at a minimum, consists of bread (preferably thick) dipped in egg batter and fried. But that’s just the beginning.
What’s a simple French toast recipe?
National French Toast Day Activities
The best way to appreciate National French Toast Day is to make some for yourself. Gather the family in the kitchen and create your favorite recipes together!
Learn the history
Culinary history is filled with fascinating tales of trial and error. Since French toast has such a long, illustrious history, you're bound to stumble upon some interesting stories.
It's sometimes easy to forget those less fortunate than us. On a day like National French Toast Day, which is a celebration of food, take some time to volunteer at a food drive or a homeless shelter.
5 Things We Didn't Know About French Toast
It's got a bunch of names
French toast is also known as eggy bread, German toast, poor knights, and torrija.
It's not "French toast" in France
In France, it's called "pain perdu," which means "lost bread."
It's not even French
The recipe is first found in Roman documents from the fourth or fifth century BC.
In Hong Kong teahouses, "Western toast" is often filled with peanut butter or jam.
Not just for breakfast anymore
Americans like it for breakfast, but other countries and cultures eat it at other times of the day.
Why We Love National French Toast Day
French toast is funny
Check out Steven Wright’s classic joke about how he went to a restaurant that served "breakfast at any time," so he ordered French toast during the Renaissance.
It's not actually that bad for us
While certainly not a health food, French toast can be a part of a healthy and moderated diet. For example, it contains decent amounts of essential nutrients, such as riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12, thiamine, niacin, and folate.
It's a sweet way to start the day
Many of us like to load up for breakfast. Although opinions vary as to whether or not breakfast really is "the most important meal of the day," there's no doubt that there are worse ways to start the day than with something sweet.
National French Toast Day dates