Hard to believe, but before McDonald’s introduced its Egg McMuffin sandwich in the early 1970s, many Americans barely knew what an English muffin was.
This is especially hard to believe if, like me, you’re a fan of this versatile, relatively low-fat breakfast bread.
You probably can’t really remember when English muffins weren’t widely available in the bread aisle. And it’s even more unbelievable if you consider just how long English muffins have been around.
A form of this small, round, flat yeast muffin has been eaten for centuries in England. (Where, coincidentally, they’re just called muffins. Go figure.) In the United States, however, the modern English muffin was created more than 100 years ago, by the founder of what’s still considered the leading brand, Thomas’ English muffins.
That entrepreneur, Samuel Bath Thomas, opened a bakery in New York in 1880, to sell his original “Nooks & Crannies” English muffins. His secret was griddle baking, which gave the muffins their distinctive texture: crunchy and cornmeal-dusted on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and riddled with little nooks that soaked up butter, honey or jam.
Over more than a century, the company has stayed true to its methods and ingredients for continued high quality, but has also modernized with new flavors (like cinnamon raisin) and whole grain varieties.
But even the plain, old-fashioned English muffin is a sensible breakfast choice. A whole English muffin has only 120 calories, one gram of fat, and no cholesterol. Compare that to many popular brands of bagels (which can run upwards of 300) or a supposed “healthy” bran muffin (as many as 500 calories.) They’re especially healthy if you skip the butter and try one of these higher-protein or lower-calorie toppings:
• Spread with peanut butter or almond butter.
• Top with sliced tomato, a little shredded cheese and broil until cheese melts.
• Use apple butter or low-sugar preserves.
• Try fruit-flavored, lowfat cream cheese.
• Make your own low-calorie “mcmuffin” knockoff with sliced, hardcooked egg; turkey bacon;and skim, shredded mozzarella cheese. Broil or microwave until cheese melts.