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!