Now this great institution is under threat as health-conscious consumers working longer hours opt for more nutritious and easy-to-prepare alternatives or skip breakfast altogether.
The gravity of the situation was highlighted last week with the news that Kellogg's is to launch a "morning bar" aimed at those who don't have time for a sit-down breakfast.
Called Nutri-Grain, the fruit-filled bar with a rolled wheat and oat crust will be placed next to Kellogg's cereals in supermarkets. The pounds 7m May launch will be one of Kellogg's biggest for years.
It has been a success in the United States, where sales topped $200m (pounds 123m) within six years. Its launch there prompted a raft of similar products which created a market for morning bars worth $810m, according to the research company Euromonitor.
Meanwhile, egg consumption, according to the government-sponsored National Food Survey, fell from 3.15 per person per week in 1985 to 1.85 in 1995. Bacon consumption dropped from nearly 4oz to less than 3oz per week in the same period.
The sort of breakfast enjoyed by Somerset Maugham may soon be a weekend indulgence.The market research company Mintel has found that, when under no pressure to rise early, just over 30 per cent of adults still enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast.Reuse content