Where did happy hour come from anyway?

by Patty Templeton

You there, leaning on the bar, how’s your happy hour going? Before you wobble-step outta the joint, allow me to pull up a barstool right close to you. I heard some happy hour trivia that’s too interesting to not share.

Supposedly, the origin of the phrase “happy hour” had nothing to do with booze. It came about in 1914 to describe a social hour of moving pictures, singing, boxing, and other entertainments that naval vessels held to help alleviate the boredom of life at sea.

During Prohibition (1920 to 1933), Americans co-opted the term “happy hour” to mean boozing before eating dinner. People would meet either in private homes or a speakeasy to drink for an hour before having a meal. Happy hour became a euphemism for drinking before going out.

The 1960s brought restaurants getting in on the happy hour game. They forced the cocktail hour into the public space by offering extremely low-priced food and drink that were just too good for folks to refuse.

By 1984, drunk driving after happy hour was such a concern that Massachusetts outlawed the sale of reduced-price drinks during specified time periods. In fact, Alaska, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont all have similar restrictions or bans on reducing the price of alcoholic beverages during windows of time. These states aren’t alone; all of Ireland bans the sale of discounted drinks.

If you can go out to happy hour, you’re probably a beer fan, as 59 percent of happy hour attendees drink domestic beer.

What are you waiting for? It’s 4:15 p.m. somewhere, right?

Patty TempletonDGO staff writer

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