As you leave your home in a post-Thanksgiving haze to go forth and spend hard-earned dollars on what ostensibly are deep, deep discounts on popular consumer goods today — the dreaded Black Friday — please remember one thing: It all started right here.
Well, calling it "Black Friday," anyway.
Temple University professor and psychologist Frank Farley recently spoke with NBC about the naming of what now is a sort of national holiday in its own right, saying that we have Philly cops to thank for the term.
"Back in the 1930s, there was the Army-Navy game on Saturday," he told NBC. "The day before, people are rushing into Philly; the police are overwhelmed, and the idea of this day is just a very, very bad day for the cops. It became labeled 'Black Friday' by the police."
Our own Joe Gambardello actually looked at this a couple years back as well, and found that the term 'Black Friday' likely originated not in the 1930s, but a little later in the late 50s or early 60s. And, in fact, one of the earliest reference to the friday after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday" comes from a 1961 article in Public Relations News:
"The resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday."
Until relatively recently, "Black Friday" was used in reference to the stock market crash of 1869. In fact, it likely didn't catch on nationwide as a reference to the start of Christmas shopping season until the 1980s at the earliest:
The term, while common in the Philadelphia area in the 1970s, did not become a national phenomenon until the late 1980s or early 1990s. As a 1985 Inquirer story noted, retailers in Cincinnati and Los Angeles were still unaware of the term at that time.
Everyone was thinking it, we just gave it a name. You're welcome, America.