The New Early Bird Special

Admit it. You have done it too. At some point in your life, you have poked fun at the early bird special. It is what the old folks with gray hair and sagging skin do for dinner out. We would scoff that they just couldn’t stay up that late, or it was the cheap way to go out to dinner, or they needed to get home early enough to watch the Lawrence Welk Show. Old fogies. Now…we are them.

I was born at the tail end of the baby boomer generation. The boomers have always paved new ways of doing life and so I have benefited from the earlier boomer trailblazers. It is no surprise that the very generation that led the charge for social change in the 60’s would also be changing the way society sees retirees in the 21st century. That is what boomers do. They force the change that society needs. Not the least of these, or maybe I should say, one of the least of these – is the early bird special. I will leave the weightier topics on how the boomers changed society for the anthropologists.

So why is the early bird special so appealing as we get older? It is not just that we can’t stay up that late, although we don’t want to anymore. And it is not just that it is less expensive, although that is a definite benefit. And we definitely don’t want to get home to watch the Lawrence Welk Show, although I would like to catch a couple more episodes of Yellowstone before bed. The biggest reason that we like the early bird special is that we just can’t eat late at night anymore. If I eat later in the evening it doesn’t settle well when I go to bed. Think reflux and heartburn. The sing/song commercial “pop pop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is” makes a lot more sense now. Unfortunately, I can’t eat as much as I used to either. Remember the all-you-can eat buffets? You remember…pre-COVID? I loved having a smorgasbord of options to choose from. That was one of the fun things about going on a cruise, the buffets. I wanted to try everything. I used to get my money out of an all-you-can eat buffet. Now the only thing I get from it is indigestion.

As the baby boomers age, we want to eat earlier in the evening, but we do not want to be the old fogies that stand in line for the early bird special. So, what did the baby boomers do? Well, we had to put a new twist on the early bird special. It needed social change. Happy hour is the new early bird special! It is perfect. It has all of the benefits of the early bird special, but it is cool. It is earlier in the day; it is less expensive than a full dinner out and it is not so much food.

Duval’s in Sarasota had a great happy hour menu. We ordered the crispy calamari to share, and each had a 1/2 shrimp po’boy sandwich for dinner. Perfect.

Happy hour originated from restaurants and bars trying to draw in more customers during their slower times. It is typically offered before and after the peak dinner hours. I will leave the later happy hour times for the younger crowd. It seems that happy hour is extending beyond restaurants and bars now. I went to wash my car recently and the below sign was sitting at the entrance to the car wash. Apparently, there are peak times at the carwash too. Who knew?

We have a friend that is the king of happy hour. He knows and frequents all of the great happy hours where he lives. When he travels, he Googles the area ahead of time and researches the best happy hour places. This might surprise you, but he is a baby boomer too. He has found so many great places that have a lovely atmosphere and an excellent happy hour, that he has made us believers.

So, I salute all of the early baby boomers that went before me and changed society, particularly the change from the early bird special to a much more socially acceptable happy hour. Cool beans man!

Cheers to the retirement years!

6 comments on “The New Early Bird Special

  1. I like this post! At 70 and 68, my wife and I almost never eat out anymore (for all the reasons you mentioned and more) but this earlier happy hour thing might be the ticket every now and then, I’ve always known about happy hour but associated it only with drinking. So, I just “Googled” and, yep, you’re right—lots of options near me. One place calls it “Appy Hour” and all appetizers are half price every weekday from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. Hi Don –

      I think happy hour used to just be drinks. Fortunately for us, it has evolved. Glad you were able to find some good options in your area. I love the term “appy hour!”

  2. This is such a fun post and so well written. I nodded in agreement, laughed and reflected all at once.
    When our youngest son (35) was visiting recently he mocked us for eating dinner at 3:30 pm. It’s actually more like 5:00 — but I get his point. When he was growing up, we didn’t eat dinner until much, much later — and when he was older we often didn’t eat dinner until well after 8 pm. It’s funny how times change. 😀

    1. We used to eat at all kinds of crazy hours too. Especially when the kids were growing up because we tried to accommodate everyone’s schedules and still eat a meal together. Even if it was 8:00 at night.

      Yep – we are them. The ones our kids tease about eating too early now (and when did we end up with kids in their 30’s anyway?!?) Don’t worry, it is cool now.

  3. My husband and I don’t go out in the evening all that often but, when we do, early and light is the way we roll. Early to avoid the crowds and light because we don’t like to stuff ourselves. I don’t suffer from indigestion but I don’t like to go to bed full. My cut-off time for eating is 7pm (6pm is even better). This has helped me keep my weight in check and to sleep better.

    1. Hi Janis –

      Early and light is a good motto to live by for eating. I have heard many people say that they control their weight by not eating past 6 or 7. It aligns with the benefits of intermittent fasting (provided you don’t have a midnight snack😊). We eat fairly early in the winter, but it seems to be harder for us in the summer when it is light later.

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