D. K. Smith

D. K. Smith

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National Buffet Day


National Buffet Day is observed annually on January 2.  Buffets are a popular choice for many when choosing a destination for eating out.

Buffets are a system of serving meals, where food is placed in a public area to be easily viewed and selected, by people serving themselves. Buffets are useful for feeding large groups of individuals at one time and are offered at a variety of places including hotels, restaurants and conventions.

Originating during the middle of the 16th century, the buffet table comes from the Brannvinsbord – Swedish schnapps (shot of alcoholic beverage) table.  The prime of this custom was during the early 18th century and was developed into the more modern buffet around the beginning of the 19th century.  It was during the expansion of the railroads throughout Europe that the smorgasbord buffet increased in popularity.

Originally, the smorgasbord  table was a meal where guests gathered before dinner for a pre-dinner drink and was separate from the formal dinner that followed.

In 1939 at the New York World’s Fair exhibition, the Swedes used a smorgasbord to showcase the best of the Swedish food to the large number of visitors attending the fair.  It was in the second half of the 20th century after the Swedes had popularized the smorgasbord in New York, where the word buffet became popular in the English-speaking world.

The term buffet originally referred to the French sideboard furniture where food was served from, however it eventually became applied to the serving format.


Head out to your favorite buffet-style restaurant and use #NationalBuffetDay to post on social media.


Within our research, we were unable to identify the origin of National Buffet Day.

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