What Is Happy Hour?

The term Happy Hour sounds very inviting even if you do not know exactly what it entails. In all honesty, if you place the word “happy” in front of almost any other word it automatically sounds like something fantastic is about to happen. And happy hour is no exception to this rule. Happy hour is a period of time when restaurants offer discounted prices on food and drink. Most happy hours are longer than an hour and some restaurants have multiple happy hours every day of the week. Popular times to find happy hours are late afternoon (usually 3pm – 7pm) and a couple hours before a restaurant will close.

During happy hour you can have all the fun for a portion of the regular price. But before you decide if you are a fan of happy hour or not let’s take a look at its history. We will take a scientific approach and dissect happy hour so you can see for yourself how happy hour got its start and why it is so popular today. After reading this article you will have all the information you need to decide if happy hour is for you, so let’s take a look.



The most current meaning of term happy hour is a particular period of time during the business day when restaurants offer discounted prices on food and drink. Customers can wet their whistles without putting too much of a dent in their wallet. These days happy hour is widespread and more popular than ever and almost every restaurant has adopted this marketing strategy in one way or another. Generally, restaurants are not as busy at opening of the business day, between the hours for lunch and dinner, and the hours just before closing. Offering discounted prices on food and drink during these slower times is obviously meant to entice customers to visit and helps to fill an otherwise empty restaurant. Sounds great, right! But where and when did the notion of a happy hour come from?

Way back when and well before cell phones, Facebook, and personal gaming devices people had to make their own fun with stuff that was readily available (like rocks, trees and dirt). Ah yes, the good old days as our elders would call it. A time when innocence prevailed and taking pleasure in the simplest aspects of life seemed to be common place. It seems a little doubtful the good old days were a time when something such as happy hour would have been created. However, there is no shortage of historic evidence that our ancestors were definitely partying way back when. They just weren’t partying in the same fashion as we are today.

It has been documented that during the good old days happy hour was a period of time allotted to sailors in the US Navy to burn off some excess aggression. While out at sea the sailors would hold activities such as boxing and wrestling matches to relieve the stress and monotony of being on a ship for long periods of time. Entertainment was scarce and the sailors obviously needed an outlet to break up their daily routine. So happy hour may have been created out of a time when men would find out whom had the most testosterone by knocking the heck out of each other.



Another record from the beginning of happy hour comes again from the US Navy when ladies were allowed to join the sailors on board the ship for cocktails and conversation. While the ships were at port the ladies would join the sailors and engage in some much needed socialization. The term happy hour was said to have spread throughout the Navy and became a common term in the English language once the war had ended and the sailors returned home.

The era of Prohibition brought on by the National Prohibition Act on November 18, 1918 made it illegal to distribute and/or consume most alcoholic beverages. During this period illegally operated watering holes (such as a speakeasy) were the only places to purchase alcoholic beverages. Most of these social gatherings to consume illegal beverages last for only a few hours and were referred to as “cocktail hour”, “social hour”, and of course “happy hour”. Speakeasies and secret drinking establishments quietly promoted social hours, when illegal alcohol would be available, which was usually held a few hours before dinner. For obvious reasons, people started to refer to the illegally intoxicating social hour as happy hour and this could be the point when modern day happy hour was created. Happy hour definitely got a huge boost in popularity thanks to Prohibition.

After Prohibition was abolished, it wasn’t long before the term appeared in publications and was used in promotional materials for restaurants and drinking establishments. Happy hour had officially made its mark on country and the English language.

What was once a catchy phrase from days gone by has turned into an industry and today Happy Hour is more popular than ever before. Now happy hours are everywhere from coast to coast to shining coast and people from all walks of life can enjoy discounts on their favorite food and beverages. Happy Hours now-a-days are not for people just looking for discounted drinks. Food is taking the main stage during happy hour and people of all ages can now enjoy the benefits of a great Happy Hour.

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