We have World War I to thank for daylight saving time and Meatless Monday

June 27

The First World War started 100 years ago this summer. The last American World War I veteran – West Virginia resident Frank Buckles – died more than three years ago. But the legacy of the First World War lives on in some ways that may surprise you.

Beyond the introduction of mechanized warfare and chemical weapons, WWI also brought us harmless things like daylight saving time. Germany and its allies first set clocks back on April 30, 1916, as a way to keep factories open longer and conserve fuel for the war. England and the United States soon followed suit.

Another trend that started during WWI? Meatless Monday. In 1917, food czar and future president Herbert Hoover asked Americans to refrain from eating meat one day a week (back then it was Tuesday) to conserve for the troops. Marketing-pro-turned-health-advocate Sid Lerner – who apparently understands the power of alliteration better than the 31st president – revived the idea in 2003 as a way to cut back on obesity.

(Note to gluten-free/paleo fans: Hoover also pushed the snappy-sounding “Wheatless Wednesday.” Go forth and launch your hashtag!)

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