The History Of Happy Hour
Im going to go out on a limb here.., and assume there are more than a few of us here on Steemit that enjoy a good Happy Hour at the local pub… I mean, really, who doesn't love 2 for 1 cocktails and a nice big plate of nachos at discounted prices… Many people plan and look forward to Happy Hour all day.., the chance to get your drink-on after a long day of work and before you sit down to dinner.
It unconsciously inspires us to unwind.., and be HAPPY, no matter how boring and meaningless that job you just left is -- it's a great term.., and a marketers wet dream! A chance to lure customers into your establishment.., and what better way than with discounted booze.
But where did it come from..?
Most would assume it was some genius marketer or a bar owner that coined the phrase that would become a sacred ritual for those that choose to imbibe -- but you would be wrong… The term itself dates back as far as the 1500's when William Shakespeare referred to it in both King Henry the 5th and in The Merchant of Venice.., only he was not talking about cheap booze and hors d'oeuvres. No Mr. Shakespeare penned the phrase that still lives on today more literally -- a time of the day to just be happy -- it had nothing to do with $2 margaritas.
Then it popped-up again in 1913.., and of all places -- onboard a Naval ship, the USS Arkansas. At the end of WWI sailors needed something to break up the monotony of living on ship and would gather at a certain time (Happy Hour) to engage in activities that were meant to boost morale -- still not really having anything to with getting slightly sloshed before you head home to the family.., but a little closer to what we know it as today. A time of the day to forget about your troubles and have some fun.
And then.., when the wonderfully failed Volstead Act (Prohibition) was passed prohibiting the transport and sale of most alcohol (sacramental wine and fermented cider were given a pass).., but as we know today, that did little to curb peoples thirst for their favorite cocktail. It was the dawn of "The Speakeasy..," and the place where the term Happy Hour would again surface. Now, it still didn't have the same meaning as it does today but it was referencing that time before dinner to pound down some illegal booze. Speakeasies would boom during this time of Prohibition and Happy Hour continued to shine in the dark rooms or hidden basements.., and then after a long 13 years of being alcohol free (wink, wink) Prohibition was repealed and there was not much use for the term.
Later it showed up in Los Angeles in the 1950's.., and cost conscious people flocked to a local tavern for "discounted cocktails" possibly due to some post WWII celebrating and sort of shift in American culture -- but it still hadn't cemented itself as the Happy Hour we know today -- but closer…
It wasn't until the late 1970's - early 1980's that Happy Hour became what we so lovingly know it as it is today, or at least what it is supposed to be today -- a frenzied few hours to pound down as many cocktails as you can at a discount. Only now, it wasn't about taking a hour or so to be Happy as William Shakespeare intended, nor is it a way to hide from the long arm of the law in your favorite Speakeasy. Happy Hour became so popular it's hard to find a bar or restaurant that didn't have one, that was until certain states started to outlaw it due to binge drinking and the health of their citizens (gimme a freakin' break).
Even after the massive failure of Prohibition and the ongoing even bigger failure of the War on Drugs, certain politicians continue to think they have the right to tell people what they can put in their bodies, while at the same time have no problem letting their citizens breath toxic air (Ground Zero) or drink tainted water (Flint Michigan).., when all they have done is given people reason to drive across state lines drunk -- leave it to the government to fuck-up something as harmless as HAPPY HOUR!
Unfortunately, it is not just the government that thinks they have the right to screw with such a time honored tradition.., many establishments these days advertise Happy Hour ALL DAY LONG. I mean, there is nothing wrong with tossing a little bait out there in the hope of boosting the size of your crowd and revenue.., but when it is in place of any imagination or a solid business plan it demeans what Happy Hour was meant to be in the first place.
So, if you are fortunate enough to live in a state that doesn't treat you like a child and are aware of an establishment (bar/restaurant) that has respect for its clientele.., and enjoy taking a load off after long day with a few good stiff belts -- tip one back to the long, varied history the term Happy Hour has entrenched in it -- CHEERS!
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