I f all we ever needed to know we learned in kindergarten, then we know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But at the University, students can be found scurrying off to morning classes toting Mountain Dew and Snickers bars, if they tote any breakfast food at all.
Lack of time has many students opting to hit the snooze button instead of the cereal cabinet in the wee hours of the morning. The phenomenon begins during first year, when Mom no longer provides a breakfast wake-up call, and seems to continue through all four years of college.
"I'm not a morning person, and I get up as late as possible," first-year College student Evan Sweet said. "I've only had breakfast once this year."
Other students who enjoy breakfast food cannot imagine the thought of eating so early in the morning.
"Nursing school classes are so early that I never eat breakfast," third-year Nursing student Elizabeth Mitchell said. "I'm not even hungry. I do eat three meals a day, but they are at 12 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. I do eat cereal all the time as a snack."
For students who do manage to find the time to grab a bite to eat in the early morning hours, the strategy of most seems to be of the grab-and-go variety.
"I usually eat a cereal bar running out the door to class," fourth-year College student Catherine Easby-Smith said. "If I don't eat breakfast, I practically die during my first class."
While Easby-Smith chooses to grab something healthful while running out the door, other students opt for more unique morning nourishment as they set off to class.
"I saw a student walking across the crosswalk this morning with a Coke or a beer for all I know," English Prof. Lisa Woolfork said.
Woolfork herself is a proponent of breakfast, and breakfast on-the-go for that matter. The English professor plans ahead, however, so she is not caught in the morning crosswalk armed only with a mysterious can of breakfast "energy."
"Nobody wants to stop for breakfast during the week, but you can make a dozen muffins on Monday and they will last," she said.
Rare are the students who make time during the week for a nutritional breakfast, but they are indeed out there.
"I like to get up early for my classes anyway, and I like to have breakfast in the morning," fourth-year College student Fatimah Williams said. "I try to make sure I get a piece of fruit and usually a bagel and cream cheese."
If one ventures to the University dining facilities, one will find that O-Hill, Newcomb and Runk offer a plethora of early morning goodies for the well-balanced student.
"Breakfast is the best meal at the dining hall," third-year College student Mandy Owen said. "You can't go wrong at breakfast, but at dinner you never know what you're going to get!"
Dining hall favorites include custom-made omelets, the famous make-your-own waffle machines and a staggering variety of "those sugar cereals Mom would never let you eat."
"When I do get up and go to O-Hill, I usually get waffles or eggs and French toast," first-year College student Greg Blair said. "But PowerAde for me is 24/7."
If dining hall traffic is slow during the weekday breakfast hours, then weekend breakfast activity within the University and beyond seems to make up for the one-too-many Pop-Tart and Coke combos during the school week.
On weekends, both students and Char-lottesville residents finally seem to find time for breakfast.
Just beyond the reach of the University are several spots that students make a point to eat breakfast at.
The Tavern is one such local joint, a place to find a homemade breakfast you couldn't possibly make as well in your own home.
With the rooftop boasting the slogan "Where Students, Tourists, and Townspeople Meet," the restaurant looks like it is a real Charlottesville tradition, and it is.
Those students, tourists and townspeople faithfully secure their place in line most Saturdays and Sundays between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., and settle in for what can be a very long wait.
On average weekdays, the Tavern serves up breakfast fare to "at least 1,500 people," Tavern manager Terrence Lucas said.
"Early in the morning the wait is five minutes, but later the line goes across the parking lot," he said. "People just wait until they get in."
Student favorites at the Tavern include banana nut pancakes and the Western omelet.
"I like the Tavern because the food is so good, and so are the salmon cakes," Williams said.
Local Charlottesville residents also seem to agree with Williams that there is something special about the cooking at the Tavern.
"People are always asking if they can buy our pancake mix because our pancakes are the best they ever tasted," Lucas said.
Another breakfast place for hotcakes is the chain restaurant Aunt Sarah's. Students go for a weekend breakfast that still will be served hot when they finally decide to roll out of bed.
In fact, Aunt Sarah's serves up so many pancakes that some of its waitresses have sworn off of eating pancakes entirely.
"I don't eat pancakes because I serve too many of them," said waitress Wendy Burton, who has been working at the pancake house for "three years off and on."
"I go to Aunt Sarah's every so often for a change of pace," fourth-year college student Erin Farney said. "There is a nice blend of people there, not just University students, but I personally like the French toast, not the pancakes."
Whether it is at the dining hall, the dorm room, or a pancake house, it is important that even college students make an effort to get some sort of breakfast nutrition, said University health officials.
"A lot of students skip breakfast, but it really is the most important meal of the day," health promotions director Cynthia Burwell said. "It is important that students get up in the morning to literally break the fast and get the metabolism going."
Burwell encourages students to reach for something small and healthy if they are in a rush.
"All it takes is half a bagel or a piece of fruit to break the fast," she said. "You don't even need to sit down or anything."
For now, however, it seems most students opt for more unique breakfast foods in the morning, and if students really had their way, who knows what they would be eating.
For Easby-Smith, breakfast sometimes falls into the sugar category.
"My favorite breakfast ever is strawberry pie," she said.