Learn English – Why bread crumbs and not stones


In UI navigation jargon, bread crumbs are used to describe a trail of links back to the starting point. This is obviously a reference to Hansel and Gretel, where they use a literal trail of bread crumbs to mark their path back to their house. But if you remember, the bread crumbs were eaten by birds and so pretty terrible as a navigation aid. The stones or pebbles, which he had used on the previous days actually worked.

How and when did bread crumbs come to have the meaning it seems to?

Best Answer

Why breadcrumbs and not pebbles? Probably because bread crumbs are what people remember from the story.

The earliest use of breadcrumb to describe this particular UI navigation pattern seems to have been in this paper from February 2003. They cite an earlier paper from 2001, but that paper doesn't seem to use the term breadcrumbs.

As you might imagine, the suitability of the term breadcrumbs to this particular navigation aid is a matter of contention; check out the comments in this article.