The History Of Lunch

The lunch hour – so coveted by employees across the nation, most can’t imagine the workday without it. But, before the 19th century the lunch hour, and the idea of lunch, did not exist.

Up until 1850, lunch was considered a snack that could be eaten at any time during the day. The definition of  “lunch”, coined by Samuel Johnson, traditionally meant anything your hand could hold.

Before the turn the invention of lunch, dinner was what many today would refer to as lunch. The traditional dinner could be compared to a Spanish or European lunch, typically the largest meal of the day and late in the afternoon. A smaller meal, supper, followed dinner later in the evening.

Towards the end of the 19th century, as work hours increased due to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, lunch became a standard meal between the hours of 12 and 2. Like today, lunch was typically consumed outside of the home, and therefore, needed to be quick, easy, and cheap (emphasis on the cheap.) Needless to say, sandwiches and street food quickly became lunch staples.

Today, it’s hard to say that times have changed, especially with the current food truck trend quickly spreading across the nation. In honor of this trend, we’ll be bringing some of our favorite sustainable food trucks to the Co-op on November 2. Although the trucks will be serving dinner, or for old times sake, supper, we hope to see you all at our first annual Food Truckathon!

Read more about the history of lunch on Edible Geography.

For the Food Truckathon details, check out our facebook.


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