I ran up to NYC this week to see a fascinating exhibit at the New York Public Library about Lunch Hour in NYC. The whole concept of a midday lunch is actually a modern invention that came about during the Industrial Revolution.
As they described, Colonial American mealtimes were originally based on English rural life, with a main meal known as "dinner in the middle of the day. The word "lunch referred to a snack that might be eaten at any time of the day or night, even on the run. But during the 19th century, under the pressures of industrialization, this meal pattern began to change. Nowhere was the change more dramatic than in New York, the burgeoning center for trade, manufacturing, and finance. Employees were given a fixed time for their midday meal, often a half hour or less. So, dinner was pushed to the end of the day, and lunch settled into a scheduled place on the clock between the hours of twelve and two.
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