What Is a Midnight Breakfast?

Laura Metz

A midnight breakfast is served on most college campuses the first day of finals’ week, when semester exams are given in every class. The meal takes place late in the evening, anywhere between 9:00 p.m. and midnight. Breakfast foods, such as scrambled eggs, pancakes, and sausage, are served, and many of these events also feature various types of entertainment or relaxation helps.

A disc jockey may be the entertainment at a midnight breakfast.
A disc jockey may be the entertainment at a midnight breakfast.

Traditionally, the midnight breakfast is held in the school’s cafeteria, although other places may be used if the cafeteria is too small. At many universities the meal is free to students. Schools provide the meal in order to encourage students who are depressed about final exams, provide a means of relaxation in an otherwise hectic week, and help students stop to eat something in their final night of studying before the exams begin.

Midnight breakfast may consist of sausages.
Midnight breakfast may consist of sausages.

Another important aspect of a midnight breakfast is the feeling of community. It is perhaps one of the few times every semester that the majority of the student body is gathered together in one place. This serves to build a sense of community both with current students and alumni who have participated in the past.

Faculty and staff often serve the food to the students and occasionally, a mayor or other civic servant will also help serve. At some colleges the midnight meal is provided and served by the student union. Often, entertainment will be provided, usually by either by a disc jockey or by a live band. Additionally, other means of relaxation, such as games, massages, and aromatherapy, are sometimes provided.

Some colleges assign themes to their midnight breakfast festivities, such as movie or cultural themes. Even during the frantic studying leading up to finals’ week, many students find time to make or buy a costume for these events. While a midnight breakfast is traditionally offered just once a semester, several colleges offer them on a monthly or weekly basis. For example, one college in the US offers breakfast food every Friday night. While breakfast foods remain the most popular offering, lunch and dinner foods are readily available at these events.

Some college dining facilities remain open 24 hours a day. Even if they serve breakfast foods at midnight, these are not considered midnight breakfasts unless the school organizes a specific night. Then the cafeteria will have many more customers than normal for that time of night.

A college cafeteria is the traditional site of a midnight breakfast.
A college cafeteria is the traditional site of a midnight breakfast.

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Discussion Comments


Honestly, I thought it was the midnight buffet a lot of hotels do on New Year's Eve. Several of the bigger hotels in my area do that. They offer a midnight champagne breakfast buffet after the clock strikes 12, and then they have dancing until very late.

I've hit a lot of 24-hour places after concerts, and I almost always get breakfast, and there were a couple of places that used to have midnight breakfast buffets on the weekends. Those were great after a late movie if you hadn't eaten beforehand. I'm a big fan of the late night breakfast.


I've never heard of this. None of the colleges I attended ever did this. It's a great idea, but I never knew of any schools that did it. I would have loved something like this. I guess it's most common at schools that have a lower than average commuter population, but even when I was living in the dorm, the college didn't do it.

This sounds like a really fun event, and I think it would be awesome to participate in one. Maybe it's something colleges are doing now, as opposed to the Dark Ages, when I was in college.

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