Happy hour is a marketing term for a period of time in which a public venue, such as a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, stadium, or state/county fair, offers discounts on alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine, and cocktails.
One possible origin of the term is from the United States Navy. In the 1920s, "Happy Hour" was slang for a scheduled entertainment period on board a ship during which boxing (or fisticuffs) and wrestling bouts took place; this was a valuable opportunity for sailors to relieve the stress accumulated during the long periods at sea.
The idea of drinking before dinner has its roots in the Prohibition era. When the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were passed banning alcohol consumption, people would host "cocktail hours", also known as "happy hours", at a speakeasy (an illegal drinking establishment) before eating at restaurants where alcohol could not be served. Cocktail lounges continued the trend of drinking before dinner.
In 1984, the U.S. military abolished happy hours at military base clubs.
In 2011, the Utah State Legislature passed a ban on happy-hours, effective January 1st, 2012.
The Canadian province of Alberta created restrictions to happy hours that took effect in August 2008. All such promotions must end at 8 pm, and drink prices must conform to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission's minimum price regulations at all times.
In Ontario, while establishments may vary liquor prices as long as they stay above the minimum prices set by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, they are not permitted to advertise these prices "in a manner that may promote immoderate consumption." In particular, the phrase "happy hour" may not be used in such advertisement.
Happy hour has been illegal in the Republic of Ireland since 2003 under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.
The KHN, a hospitality sector lobby group, has agreed with its members to stop happy hours to discourage binge drinking by youth, but only if the government would vote to raise the minimum drinking age. In March 2013, the law to raise the drinking age to 18 was passed.
- Johnny Acton, Tania Adams and Matt Packer (2006). Origin of Everyday Things. Happy Hour (p. 107). New York, Ny: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 978-1-4027-4302-3.
- Happy hour ban starts in Massachusetts bars New York Times (11 December 1984)
- Pennsylvania law allows longer happy hours in bars, restaurants | PennLive.com
- New liquor law revives happy hour in Kansas - KCTV5
- Alberta sets new rules to improve bar safety:Minimum drink prices, restricted happy hours among new policies to curb binge drinking. Alberta News Release, July 3, 2008.
- :Pricing and Promotion of Liquor by Liquor Sales Licensees. Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Information Bulletin, July 2007.
- Happy hour to end at midnight RTÉ News (17 August 2003)
- City bans happy hours to curb binge drinking
- DutchNews.nl - End of happy hours in sight - if the legal drinking age remains 16
- "Wetsvoorstel verhoging alcoholleeftijd 16 naar 18 aangenomen". Retrieved 2013-06-04.
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