On the surface, it may not seem like breakfast foods and ’90s pop music are a natural pairing. Let me reassure you that this could not be further from the truth. As it turns out, ’90s pop and breakfast are a fantastic partnership, like Salt-N-Pepa (for your eggs), Milli and Vanilli-a (in your latte), or coffee with cream and Sugar Ray. They’re great on their own, but even better together. And the best part? Now we can enjoy the great singers of the past with new, positive feelings that come with freshly brewed coffee, fluffy scrambles, crispy potatoes, and decadent pastries, instead of teenage heartbreak or other ’90s feelings we may or may not have associated with them. (Looking at you, Backstreet Boy ballads that pierced Millennial hearts everywhere. Now we can enjoy your perfection without being distracted by angst. In fact, now your songs are enhanced by the morning sun, the smell of fresh coffee, and the satiation that a hearty breakfast brings).
So, join me now on a sensory journey that combines the best of ear candy with the best of breakfast, and brings together the best of both Spice Worlds. Or excuse me, I mean the best of both Boy Meets Worlds. Wait, the best of both Wayne’s Worlds. Forgive me, the ’90s vibes are strong today.
Backstreet Boys: Belgian Waffles with Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream, French-Pressed Coffee That You Accidentally Added Too Much Sugar To
With a nod to the fact that BSB first made it big in Europe, a sweet and fluffy breakfast balanced out by an even sweeter, caffeinated beverage will surely jolt you awake the same way that the opening strums of “I Want It That Way” used to. The whole experience is saccharine, much like their image. And it gives you options: like maybe you want to take a bite of waffle and add berry, or maybe you want to take a bite of berry and add waffle. Just like sometimes you’d prefer a mid-tempo song about love with a catchy hook that rhymes, and sometimes you’d prefer a mid-tempo song about love with a catchy hook that doesn’t rhyme. Either way, it’s always a win.
NSYNC: Freezer Waffles with Store-Brand Syrup, Instant Coffee
Speaking of boy bands, purists like me are still arguing 20 years later over whether BSB or NSYNC was the better group, leaving the rest of the world to do all the big kid jobs. But no matter where your loyalties lie, the fact remains that NSYNC was made with the Backstreet Boys’ likenesses in mind, which is why a quick, convenient meal that’s aspirational yet still delicious and pleasant to consume (especially when running late for work) suits them just fine. However, let the record show that the store-brand syrup will probably result result in a sugar hangover so harsh it will leave you questioning those aforementioned loyalties. Should that happen to you, or when that happens to you, I recommend Justin Timberlake’s 2005 banger “SexyBack” to cleanse the palate.
Britney Spears: Biscuits and Gravy, Grapefruit Juice
A brief confession: Originally, I was going to go the easy route and suggest that Britney’s matching meal was simply a Pop-Tart, but then I realized that she deserves much more than that. Pop-Tarts are wonderful, but they are not a filling nor an indulgent meal, and Britney deserves to be connected to food that is both of those things. Her music has filled our souls for decades—decades!—and we’ve watched her celebrity status wax and wane for just as long. Biscuits and gravy are a mature, reliable, yet still easy to swallow meal. Plus, Britney’s Southern sensibilities align perfectly with the dish, which should definitely be made from scratch. Expect golden biscuits that are warm on the inside, with a perfect crust, coated with thick gravy just like she’s forever coated in the love of her fans... which is why we also need grapefruit juice to wash it all down.
Destiny’s Child: The Fanciest of Fancy Brunches with All the Works; Including But Not Limited to Eggs Benedict, Crepes, Espresso
A glamorous brunch has me jumpin’ jumpin’ for joy, which is exactly what the ladies of Destiny’s Child inspire. Perhaps it’s because they sing about the need for someone else to pay their bills, bills, bills, which would be nice after a meal like that, or because the group launched the career of Beyoncé herself, which is something worth celebrating with a fancy spread. Or maybe (and I suspect this is the case), the ladies themselves are singing harmonies that are more complex than a recipe for Hollandaise sauce, so it’s a natural fit.
Spice Girls: French Toast, Chorizo, Chai Latte
Have you ever wondered what the Spice Girls would be without the spice? I don’t know, and I never want to find out. The same thing could also be said for for French toast (cinnamon and nutmeg are essential), chorizo (no explanation needed), and a chai tea latte (plain tea and milk? I know some people enjoy it, but it’s definitely not for me). And, in the same way that each of these foods is unique and excellent on their own, they surprisingly go well together, just like Sporty Spice, Baby Spice, Posh Spice, Ginger Spice, and Scary Spice. Some wise women once said, “Spice Up Your Life,” and that’s exactly what we’ll do with this meal.
Boyz II Men: Tea
Just tea, nothing else. Because their songs are all sad and lonely, the perfect feelings for tea-drinking.
Hanson: Rice Krispies, Dry Toast, Apple Juice
Snap, Crackle, MMMBop. There are three members of Hanson, and three joyful elves on the Rice Krispies box. Coincidence? Doubtful. Rice Krispies also require quick consumption, and we can all agree that’s the best way to consume Hanson music, since sogginess is of foremost concern. This is why the dry toast can come in handy, as well as apple juice, since it’s a slightly underrated juice, like I believe some of Hanson’s music to be.
TLC: Steel Cut Oats, Bacon, Bloody Marys
Any girl group who can proudly put a foot down and say “No Scrubs” is surely enjoying a stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast. TLC was a force to be reckoned with in the ’90s, so the kind of breakfast a lumberjack would eat is exactly the kind of thing we laypeople should be having in their honor. And the bacon? They’re one of the few acts that are worthy. And, as we all know, they ain’t too proud to bacon.
Ricky Martin: Ham and Cheddar Omelette, Chocolate Milk
A ham and cheese omelette may appear to be a run-of-the-mill breakfast staple, just as ’90s Ricky Martin, on the surface, had some basic pop-star tendencies. With his clean-cut appearance, his upbeat jams, and his well-timed shimmies, he was the total pop star package. As we saw decades ago, he also has substance to him (that’s the ham), but we’ll always have the cheesiness of the shiny shirts and coiffed hair, and the mere existence of “She Bangs” (there’s the cheddar). And of course, chocolate milk makes a sugary appearance to tie us back to the overarching sweetness of ’90s male pop stars.
Christina Aguilera: Yogurt Parfaits, Scones and Jam, Mimosas
It’s true, we’ve made it this far without a “women love mimosas” reference, but it’s time to break that streak. How could the woman who gave us “Genie in a Bottle” not have been talking about champagne? Of course, scones and jam serve as a shout-out to “Lady Marmalade.” And, to further the feminine stereotypes, yogurt parfaits need to be included since they’re basically breakfast sundaes, and we all know how much ladies love ice cream. Seriously though, with all of these items, we know in our hearts how good they are, but they’re sometimes easy to overlook when they appear on menus for things that have aoili, or some kind of shiny drizzle, or muddled herbs. Yet, every time we consume them, we’re reminded that, wow, these are really good. Just like Xtina.
On that note (get it?), it’s time for me to figure out my own breakfast plans, so I must excuse myself and go dust off the boombox.