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The Italian breakfast: Mulino Bianco and the advent of a family practice (1975-1995)

Pirani, D.; Cappellini, B.; Harman, V.

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D. Pirani

V. Harman


Purpose This paper aims to examine how Mulino Bianco, an iconic Italian bakery brand, has reshaped the symbolic and material aspects of breakfast in Italy, transforming a declining practice into a common family occasion. Design/methodology/approach A socio-historical analysis of the iconisation process has been undertaken with a framework for investigating the symbolic, material and practice-based aspects of the brand and their changes over time. Archival marketing material, advertising campaigns and interviews with brand managers constitute the main data for analysis. Findings Three crucial moments have been identified in which the brand articulates its relationship with the practice of breakfast. During the launch of the brand, the articulation was mainly instigated via the myths of tamed nature and rural past and the material aspect of the products reinforced such an articulation. In the second moment, the articulation was established with the brand’s materiality, emphasised through the use of promotional items targeting mothers and children. In the last phase, a cementification of the articulation was achieved mainly via the symbolic aspect of the brand – communicating Mulino Bianco as emblematic of a new family life in which the “Italian breakfast” was central. Originality/value Theoretically, this paper advances the understanding of the pervasive influence of brands in family life, showing how they do not simply reshape existing family food practices, rather they can re-create new ones, investing them with symbolic meanings, anchoring them with novel materiality and equipping consumers with new understandings and competences.


Pirani, D., Cappellini, B., & Harman, V. (2018). The Italian breakfast: Mulino Bianco and the advent of a family practice (1975-1995). European Journal of Marketing, 52(12), 2478-2498.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 6, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 12, 2018
Publication Date Nov 12, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 20, 2019
Journal European Journal of Marketing
Print ISSN 0309-0566
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 12
Pages 2478-2498
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (249 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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