How Appetizers Became The First Thing To Order Off Menus

With the rise of the "girl dinner" trend that has taken over TikTok, which almost exclusively involves a collection of different ingredients and small finger foods, it's clear that we all love a good appetizer plate. After all, what is "girl dinner" if not a sampler platter of all your favorite things currently hanging out in your fridge? Whether you prefer to snack on salami and cheese or chips and dip, appetizer food remains supreme for those moments when you're looking to enjoy a little bit of everything before you're ready for a full meal. All the discussion of where and when appetizer plates has us wondering: How did appetizers become the warm-up act for the entrees ahead? Suddenly, we no longer consider wings and pretzel bites meal-worthy, setting them aside in smaller portions to consume prior to the main event.

Surprisingly, appetizers have been around for centuries. Ancient Greeks and Romans would lay out foods similar to what we would recognize as the modern charcuterie board, allowing guests to graze on fruits and cheeses while the main meal was still being prepared. Around the 1860s, appetizers became commonplace in America. It was considered classy and high-end for a host to have appetizers displayed before a dinner party or a restaurant to showcase its chef's work in small portions prior to the main course. In recent decades, these bite-sized plates are the first choice you'll make at a restaurant, hoping to get hungry guests excited about all the possibilities the menu has to offer. 

Think of appetizers like pregaming for the delicious meal ahead

The concept of serving bite sized snacks before a main entree arrives is designed on purpose as a way to entice hungry appetites and give them a taste of what's to come –- hence the name appetizer. You may hear the popular first course referred to in many different ways: Hors d'oeuvres or canapes often refer to more elevated, fancy appetizers, while descriptors like finger foods and small bites imply more laid-back foods such as chicken wings and mini sliders. According to The Bleacher Bar, appetizers aren't just delicious, they can also benefit your health. When we indulge in large amounts of food without first prepping our stomach, we can become easily bloated and feel sick after an otherwise delicious meal. Appetizers allow us to prepare our stomachs for the foods to come and enjoy our entire meal at a comfortable pace.

Nowadays, practically every restaurant uses appetizers to offer patrons a preview of the food they serve and give people the chance to engage in multiple different tasting experiences. If you're feeling something salty and savory to begin your meal but also want to indulge in the buttery sweetness of a seafood medley, a selection of appetizers will allow you to do both. Whether you're looking to test out the food quality of a new restaurant or searching for snack ideas for your next movie night, you can never go wrong with a few appetizers.