When I was a kid, dinner was always at 6 pm, with the entire family sitting around the table, sharing stories from the day. It was like clockwork every night, and the same thing would happen with my friends and their families.


However, today things have changed. It seems that due to busier work schedules, more nighttime activities, and increased after-school commitments, dinner time and how we eat dinner have evolved. It's become common in some places to grab something on the way home, while in other places, people have food delivered and ready to go when it's time to eat. One thing is for sure: 'dinner time' is no longer fixed at 6 pm.


The American Time Use Survey conducted a pretty cool analysis from 2018 to 2022. They wanted to see if our dinner habits have really changed – you know, if we're eating later and more randomly, and if it differs from state to state. And? The report confirmed it.  

The first thing that caught my attention was the peak dinner time in Pennsylvania, which was at 5:37 pm. I can't help but wonder why that's the case. I initially thought it might have something to do with the more rural areas outside of major cities like Philly and Pittsburgh. However, looking at rural states like Nebraska, with a dinner start time of 6:51 pm, and Mississippi at 7:02 pm, it seems there might be other factors at play. It would be interesting to find out the reasons behind these differences!


Maine also has an early peak time at 5:40 pm (the national average is 6:19 pm). And speaking of our region, New York has a peak time at 6:41 pm. Here in New Jersey, we fall right in line with the national average, peaking just a few minutes before at 6:17 pm. 

It makes sense here in Jersey with busy after-school and work activities, not to mention the notorious traffic jams on the parkway; it's no wonder we often experience delays in getting home and sitting down for a meal.

 A few other states' dinner times are as follows:

  • Vermont: 6:05 pm
  • Massachusettes: 6:13 pm
  • Colorado: 6:25 pm
  • Arkansas: 7:00 pm
  • Texas: 7:02 pm
  • District of Columbia: 7:10 pm (latest average dinner time)

For more interesting insights on dinner time trends across different states, you should check out this feature done by flowingdata.com

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