The Fascinating History of Dinner Time

This interesting article from History Magazine explores the evolution of meals from medieval to modern times.

No doubt you'll appreciate how wealth, in addition to the evolution of "modern technology," set the stage for people nowadays eating, for the most part, whenever and however they can spare the time, spurring the epidemic of obesity.

For the longest time, dinner was the primary and biggest meal, eaten in the middle of the day (anytime between noon at 1 p.m.) by working class folks and the wealthy, because artificial lighting was expensive and weak at best, forcing people to head to bed at sundown. Conversely, breakfasts were small affairs as were late-day suppers.

Wealth and technology, along with more peaceful times, emboldened people during the 1700s to expand their days into the night for business, parties, and various entertainments. The wealthy (who spent less time in governmental affairs and more on leisure) tended to sleep in more often, pushing that primary dinner time to as late as 6 p.m., with supper coming as late as 2 a.m.

As for the middle-class, the demands of work and longer commutes (does this sound familiar?) pushed dinner to the evening hours and created snacking times just to satisfy the hunger brought on by extended intervals between meals.

History Magazine


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