From David Gould:
I love your site and I read it religiously. [Every Sunday? - M&M]
My question is regarding happy hour. In the references I have read, it defines it as the time in the late afternoon/early evening when some bars offer discounted liquor and/or food. However, no source has offered an origin for this term, although one did list the origin date as 1961.
Yes, we think 1961 is the earliest on record:
“All went home happy except the Newport police… and those deprived of their happy hour at the cocktail bar.” - Providence Journal, 4 July 1961
One must assume, however, that it must have been widely understood before this date as we suspect that Providence, Rhode Island was not the origin of this term. We have no clue, as yet, which bar dreamed up the term but its origin is obvious - the patrons are happy because they have cheap booze.
But that’s not the whole story. In the late 1800s, members of the theatrical profession in England used the term happy hours as rhyming-slang for “flowers”. This implies the prior existence of happy hours as a commonly understood phrase. [But meaning what? - M&M]
SOURCE: Take Our Word for It