When Tolkien describes Hobbits at the beginning of The Hobbit, he notes that they are principally occupied with growing and eating food.
Since the release of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, there have been many memes about hobbits and their love of extra meals, especially Second Breakfast. But how many meals does a typical hobbit have a day?
Tolkien said that Hobbits prefer to eat six meals a day. However, listening to what the Hobbits say in Tolkien’s books, they have seven meals that they consider a daily necessity. Their preferred foods seem to have been traditional English fare, no doubt inspired by Tolkien’s own West Midlands upbringing.
Elsewhere he says that Hobbiton is more or less inspired by a Warwickshire village in the late 1800s. Farming would have been a common pastime. He also makes a point of saying that Bilbo’s well-to-do Hobbit hole is blessed with multiple pantries.
7 Common Hobbit Meal Times
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that day-to-day life is largely focused on mealtimes.
Here is the traditional hobbit meal schedule:
- Breakfast – 7 a.m.
- Second Breakfast – 9 a.m.
- Elevenses – 11 a.m.
- Luncheon – 1 p.m.
- Afternoon Tea – 3 p.m.
- Dinner – 6 p.m.
- Supper – 9 p.m.
When Tolkien lists the meals that Hobbits eat on a regular basis, he doesn’t include a second breakfast. However, his Hobbits regularly talk about this meal, which they considered very important.
While it may not have been in the official Hobbit daily meal schedule, in practice it seems they ate this seventh meal, when they could get it.
What Types of Food Do Hobbits Eat?
While Tolkien makes it clear that food is very important to Hobbits, it is not a topic that he takes on in-depth in any of his works. To get a feel for what Hobbits eat, we need to collect the scattered mention of meals that appear throughout the books.
Tolkien makes various references that hobbits eat foods common to British farms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These would include bread, dairy products, vegetables, common farmed meats, pies, jam, and lots of ale.
The best account of what occupies a Hobbit pantry comes in The Hobbit when Bilbo brings out various foods and drinks for Gandalf and the Dwarves.
While they ask for many of the dishes, Bilbo has no difficulty obliging (although he may not wish to) and says that the 13 Dwarves in The Hobbit know what is in his pantry almost as well as he does.
Gandalf and Thorin also expect to be served red wine. This is an opportunity to learn that Bilbo inherited his father’s Vineyards and he shares an excellent vintage of Southfarthing wine. He also has several beer barrels in his cellar.
Throughout the evening Bilbo serves tea and coffee, beer, seed cakes, buttered scones, raspberry jam, apple tart, mince pies, pork pies, cheese, salad, eggs, cold cuts, and pickles.
This image is reinforced by chapter nine in The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbits are served a meal by Barliman at the Prancing Pony that is said to be a “good, plain food” fit for a Shire Hobbit.
The meal includes hot soup, cold meats, blackberry tart, freshly baked loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese.
Beyond these two specific examples, we get only passing comments. At one point Frodo describes a fair summer and rich autumn in the Shire with trees laden with apples, combs dripping with honey, and corn tall and full.
We hear quite a bit about Famer Maggot’s farm, where we know he had a large turnip field. Frodo also steals mushrooms from Farmer Maggot’s property when he is young.
When Bilbo begins the climb over the Misty Mountain, he reminisces about blackberrying in the Shire.
Sam is a bit of a chef and mentions carrots and onions. He also cooks fish and chips for Gollum, and a rabbit stew. For this, he asks Gollum to look for some bay leaves, thyme, and sage. Sam also mentions that he always carries a small saltbox with him.
When the Ents take Isengard, Merry and Gimli spend a little bit of time exploring Saruman’s cellars. There they find pipeweed that came from the Shire. They also find some first-rate salted pork and bacon that also appears to be of Shire origin.
Eating Like a Hobbit
While Tolkien seems to have had a prodigious imagination when it came to dragons and Ringwraiths, when it came to food, it seems that he stuck to what he knew. Whenever he describes food, it is almost always something that wouldn’t seem out of place on an English table.
The exception are foods made by the Elves, such as Lembas Bread. But he did view Elves as immortal otherworldly beings. His Hobbits had a significantly more down-to-earth diet.
What is Second Breakfast and Elevenses?
Second breakfast in The Lord of the Rings is a second smaller breakfast after the first breakfast, typically around 9 am. Elevenses is another light meal or snack after second breakfast, but before lunch, usually at 11 am.