When it comes to crimes against breakfast, the Fry Up Police are vigilant about their beat. Send them a snapshot of your fabulously fattening morning meal, but beware: you might get a comment like “I wouldn’t even feed that plate of broken dreams to my dog.” The rules of the group are surprisingly complicated, but the disclaimer on their Facebook page, at least, is simple: This group is not suitable for children or the faint of heart, by joining the group you are aware and accepting of potentially brutal criticism at every opportunity. Welcome to the home of the Fry Up Police, a community of 88,000 strong, who are chomping at the bit to bash your breakfast. But don’t be a crybaby if your plate of eggs and sausage take a beating. Remember, you asked for it.
The Fry Up Police started as a joke among friends, but quickly evolved into a “bona-fide, opinion-dividing, vein-clogging phenomenon.” It began after Tom, the founder of the group, kept criticizing the breakfast photos that his pal (a particularly terrible cook) posted on Facebook. “What are you, the fry up police?” muttered Tom’s friend. In 2014, the concept of a group of people getting together to praise (or protest) the breakfast choices of others suddenly occurred to Tom (who mostly answers to the name Lurky). He soon set up a website and Facebook page where like-minded breakfast lovers could gather—and gripe. The rest is Fry Up history.
The admins of the page have diverse professions outside of their self-appointed roles of authority on the Fry Up Police. There’s a scientist, a teacher, and a car salesmen. Facebook Admin Jim DeBarker, who works as an event manager for rock concerts. What unites them is their love the traditional fry-up breakfast,-and utter disdain for those who perpetrate transgressions against it.
Are you getting ready to chow down on a goat cheese omelet and a slice of avocado toast and thinking, maybe I’ll post a photo to the group and see how it fares? Save it for Instagram, nobody in this group wants to see your green paste on bread. According to the Fry Up Police, there is a place and a time for omelet photos: in the garbage and never. People from all over the world have been ridiculed in the group for lesser offenses.
The only breakfast the Fry Up Police want to see is, well, a “fry up”—a traditional English Breakfast.The English Fry Up, or “Full English” holds an esteemed place in the heart of the people of the UK. The tradition dates to the 1300s and is detailed in revered 19th century cookbooks such as Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Modern members of the Fry Up Police seem to take an unconscious nod from the old aristocratic gentry, who “saw it as their duty to keep alive the traditional practices, values, cuisine of the traditional English country lifestyle.”
Curious about how to make a proper fry up? To save yourself any embarrassment, learn the basics before you crack a single egg. There are essential ingredients and regional variations, but the sanctity of the core components must always be maintained. At a minimum, you must include four of the following: fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom, beans, toast, fried bread and tomato. The Venn Diagram on the Fry Up Police’s webpage illustrates components of a perfect fry up, along with allowable modifications based on the breakfast eater’s location in the world. In Scotland, fry ups might involve Haggis, for example. And Americans have just “bastardized the whole thing,” says Fry Up Police admin Jim DeBarker.
DeBarker details the major faux pas people make in showcasing their fry up. “Not frying it. It’s amazing how many people try to pass off grilled food,” he explains, an undercurrent of disgust in his voice. “Unusual ingredients. For example, using kippers is an absolute no-no.” But then he arrives at the meatiest of all mistakes. “And adding anything that resembles salad, basically. People try to put a little garnish on it, but that effectively turns the meal into a salad. And that is very frowned upon.”
The rules and enforcement of them are at the sole discretion of the Fry Up Police Facebook admins. Sometimes this is a good thing. Sexist, racist and homophobic comments will result in immediate and permanent ban, because according to their webpage, “It’s boring, humourless and unwelcome.” Other, slightly more bizarre atrocities that will result in being removed from the group? Use of the phrase “nomnomnom” in any iteration, abuse of “LOL” and flagrant overuse of puns.
But the chief offenses, the ones that incite the most ridicule, are almost always transgressions of the breakfast variety. If you’ve done the unforgivable, like posted a photo with a bit of broccoli on your plate, you’ll be properly shamed and perhaps eventually banned without warning. Once you’ve been torn from the bosom of the group, the only way to get back in is to offer an apology in the form of a selfie, holding a note of apology‚—while wearing beans on your head. “You’d be amazed by how many people actually do this,” laughs DeBarker. Check out the group’s Splosh Files page to catch a glimpse of the poor souls desperate to escape from Fry Up Police purgatory.
When it comes to which countries outside of the U.K. post the most satisfying photos, Debarker throws down the fry up gauntlet. “We’ve had people from all over the world post proper breakfasts. There are people from China, Cambodia and Vietnam. We had one from Chad, recently. And the only ones who still can’t make a decent fry up are the Americans or the Australians.” Perhaps this is a centuries-old commentary on the long-lingering effects of British imperialism. Or perhaps it is actually a challenge, a call to arms for breakfast-loving Americans everywhere. Get out your frying pan and break out the Brown Sauce, Yankees. It’s time to do work.