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  • Writer's pictureBridgette Penel

It All Started On A Plate

Have you ever found yourself in a pocket of time where your mind gets the opportunity to wander and a random thought bubbles to the top? Well, on this Friday morning I had two come at the same time:

Where did tipping all begin?

What the heck does 'tip' stand for, anyways?

Well, one thing we can't claim as Americans is that we created the concept of tipping. Nope! Our European roots have full responsibility with influencing this. It is said wealthy Americans, as far back as 1850, introduced the use of tipping in America when they decided they wanted the appearance of 'nobility' and living an 'aristocratic' lifestyle because this is how the highest of European society lived. (If you haven't watched American Dollar Princesses, put it on your list. This proves how obsessed the wealthy class was at that time to be amongst the elite in Europe.)

But, when did Europeans pick it up? It appears tipping originated in medieval times. This was a time when servants were the norm and masters would give extra money when they performed above-and-beyond. So, tipping is older than our country!

Did you know we actually boycotted tipping in the 1860's?

When tipping was brought across seas it started in restaurants. But, interestingly, the majority of diners were against it because it was viewed as classist. In the eye of the common citizen they struggled with the concept of paying for their meal and adding tip on top of that - it increased their cost for a basic meal.

And right when a strong movement against tipping was making traction across the U.S. the country ended its civil war and the bondage of slavery was ending. The recently freed American citizens were open to new choices for employment, albeit they were limited: servants, waiters, barbers, and railroad porters. Employers took full opportunity of tipping to subsidize these workers income and were known to offer a position at $0 wage and the employees only take-home pay would be from the generosity of tippers.

So, now with a little brief glimpse into how it all started, there is only one open question: What does TIP stand for anyways?

To Insure Promptness

And, legend has it that this phrase was written on dishes for coins at shops! Which, eventually, got shortened to tips!

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