Eating out Behaviour
1954 saw the end of food rationing implemented during world war two and the beginning of the change in eating habits. Britons, fed up of living on years of austerity were now released from the shackles of ration (by voting in the Conservatives who branded themselves as the anti-austerity party). Furthermore, the role women played during wartime shaped the way society was to become and men would no longer be the only bread winner in the house.
The mid 1950s and 1960s saw the borders of Britain open up; former colonial subjects from all over the world came to Britain and along with them brought new food flavours. Ethnic food, particularly Indian and Chinese, were a big success and restaurants were popping up all over cities.
Women’s rights made further headway with more and more women now at the workplace and fuelling Britain’s post-war economic boom (this generation was to become known as the baby boomers). Women no longer had to rely on their husbands’ or fathers’ for spending money; they were becoming independent and had disposable income.
Women, traditionally seen as the owners of kitchen had less time for the kitchen. This opened up new markets for companies seeking to capitalise on the change of attitude. Demand for convenience food skyrocketed as time strapped wives and mothers sought to maintain a home-work life balance. This made processed and frozen food an appealing choice for wives and mothers were able to hold a job whilst making sure the family was fed.
Now that there were two incomes coming into the household, more people were moving into the ‘middle income’ bracket. Dining out, not just on special occasions was fast becoming the norm. With Americanism influencing British culture, Britain welcomed the import of fast-food restaurant chains as it made eating out cheaper, more frequent and available everywhere.
Prosperity also brought in more niche markets; some restaurants branded themselves as ‘very high end’ with months of waiting lists, other choose to specialise by serving only Fish, Chicken or Meat, yet others opted for the ‘open to all’ approach. Whatever the strategy taken, there was a market for it. Meanwhile, the influx of ‘first generation’ of immigrants from China and the Indian subcontinent were opening Restaurants and Takeaways, this propelled Chinese and Indian food to the top of the list with the Chicken Tikka Masala as the British National dish.
It’s come to the point where eating out at restaurants, rather than cooking and staying at home, has become the preference for the majority of the population. Eating out is no longer reserved for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, but rather it has become part of a weekly routine.
Eating out habits took another twist where Britons once a nation of tea drinkers, started loving the coffee. Coffee shops sprung up everywhere and it was ‘the place’ to meet people outside of mealtimes for a quick catch-up or even business. This curved up a new industry where once again rather than going to meet a friend in their home, it was far more desirable to meet them at an eatery.
Technology has also had a profound impact on our eating habits from the way eateries communicate to the way food is ordered. Technology, through social media channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to name a few, has allowed businesses to communicate with its customers instantaneously and has become the forefront method of communication. Also a high profile YouTuber or Movie Star with millions of followers could change the fortunes of a restaurant or an eatery, with their recommendation. Ultimately, social media has transformed the way that people eat out. Over 208 million Instagram posts have been hash-tagged "food" on the app since it was founded in 2010.
Food ordering websites have also shaped the dining out culture as you simply sit in the comfort of your home and order a takeaway without telephoning. The biggest advantages are that you can pay for it online and not have to worry about the correct change and no more misunderstandings occur (like the waiter misunderstanding your dish leading to the wrong dish being sent).
However, those of us who still like to have a go at cooking have the whole web to scour for recipes and tips. There are step by step instructions and even video tutorial guiding you every step of the way. Technology and food have forged an unbreakable bond and changed our eating habits forever.
Eating habits have been influenced by many factors over the years; colonial past, world war, both partners working, the influence of immigration and technology. We are no longer eating to survive like our ancestors once did, we a eating for pleasure.