“Brinner” was what’s for dinner at several Denver-area restaurants on Friday, Oct. 12, in a first-of-its-kind benefit drive starring the “incredible edible” egg.

DENVER — “Brinner” was what’s for dinner at several Denver-area restaurants on Friday, Oct. 12, in a first-of-its-kind benefit drive starring the “incredible edible” egg.

Breakfast eateries with names like Syrup and Toast invited diners to come by decked out in their pajamas and chow down on traditional breakfast items while donating to Ronald McDonald House charities as part of a special event called PJs and Eggs, coordinated by the Colorado Egg Producers. Diners were urged to donate unused children’s sleepwear to the charity or to make cash or clothing donations at those same locations prior to Friday’s 5 p.m. launch.

The seven-member group of Colorado egg farms routinely donates thousands of eggs to area food banks, but came up with the pajama drive as a way to bring attention to World Egg Day, a celebration held annually on the second Friday in October by the International Egg Commission.

Jerry Wilkins, sales and marketing director for Morning Fresh Farms of Platteville and current president of the Colorado Egg Producers, said the idea was adopted from an egg farm in Arizona that pioneered a similar event to help a local foster care program.

The term “brinner” — derived by combining the word breakfast with the word dinner — has been incubating quietly in the American lexicon but could break out in expanded usage as a result of Friday’s promotion and corresponding social media campaign, Wilkins said.
“We pilfered it from the TV show,  ‘Scrubs,’” he said, describing an episode in which one of the cast members makes a breakfast-style dinner for a boyfriend, who then uses the reference. “It’s taken on legs. This is going viral, I think,” Wilkins joked.

A waiter at Syrup in downtown Denver who answered the phone during the morning rush drew a blank when asked about it.

Evan Marlangoutsos, the owner/manager of the Ralston Road Café in Arvada — one of five restaurants participating Friday — said he had never heard the word used until event organizers mentioned it. Still, he thought it had potential.

“People are eating breakfast at different times of the day now,” he said. “It’s becoming a lot more popular. We get a lot of families coming in, because the kids love breakfast foods. People have found out eggs are packed with protein, even though they used to have a bad rap.”

Whether the economy is a factor in the growing popularity of breakfast as dinner, he couldn’t say. But he did note the price of eggs is going up, along with other items used to make the omelets, skillets and breakfast burritos on his menu.
“Everything is more expensive because of the drought this summer,” he said. “Pork, dairy — everything.”

Faced with record high corn and soybean prices, egg producers are forced to sell off older hens more rapidly, which tightens egg supplies and translates to price increases, Wilkins said. In addition, a depopulation of flocks in Mexico due to an outbreak of avian flu has also increased export demand, further diminishing supplies.

Egg farmers in Colorado and nationwide are also looking ahead to the prospect of $4 billion in facility upgrades if new housing standards brokered between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the U.S. become federal law. The legislation is generally welcomed by the egg industry because it would put all states on a level playing field, Wilkins noted, adding that the implementation would be phased in over 15 to 18 years and represent about a dime a dozen in increased cost at the store shelf once completed.

Despite these pressures, the current economic environment also gives eggs something of a competitive advantage in the marketplace, since they tend to be the lowest cost per serving of the leading proteins, Wilkins said.

World Egg Day is celebrated globally, with promotional materials available in ten languages. Marlangoutsos, who is American born and raised but has family in Greece, said breakfasts in his ancestral country are typically composed of bread and cheese, with eggs treated as a delicacy.

In addition to collecting donations, Marlangoutsos was planning to donate 20 percent of the proceeds from Friday evening’s sales to the cause. Early in the week, he could already feel the enthusiasm and support of the neighborhood building. “It’s very exciting, and it’s going to be very rewarding,” he said.