You may have joined us here at Butterfield’s Restaurant for our happy hour Monday through Friday from 12-7. But do you know anything about the history of happy hour? We do!
It turns out that happy hour has very little resemblance today to its origins. During the early 19th Century “happy hour” referred to a period of time on U.S. Navy ships when entertainment such as boxing or wrestling would occur. As time went by, happy hour was expanded to include moving pictures, chorus singing, dramatic and comedy acts, as well as the physical sports.
The connection to drinking came about due to Prohibition starting in 1920 with the enactment of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, or sale of alcohol. Lawbreaking drinkers began using “speakeasy” clubs as a way to drink before going to restaurants where alcohol was illegal. They began using the term “happy hour” to describe this illegal activity.
The popularity of the term “happy hour” took off after an article about military life was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1959. By the mid 1960s restaurants began experimenting with happy hour specials to entice customers into their establishments. In addition, after-work parties and even the “three martini lunch” became more popular, further cementing the concept of happy hour.
Drinking during working hours started to decline in the 1970s, and was further impacted by several states “banning” happy hours starting with Massachusetts in 1984. The ban simply consisted of legislation prohibiting the sale of reduced-price drinks during specified time periods. Several other states followed including Alaska, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.
Although drunk driving laws have curtailed some after-work festivities, a few companies are now embracing in-office happy hours to both attract new workers and keep existing ones. This is one way of getting employees to stick around the office longer versus running out to a bar after work. Other companies have substituted baked goods, movies, or other temptations for alcohol under the umbrella term “happy hour”.
Regardless of how you prefer to celebrate happy hour, be sure to do it at Butterfields Restaurant on Old Willets Path in Hauppauge! We look forward to seeing you Mondays through Fridays from 12-7, or anytime for great lunch or dinner menu options.