Menus, as a list of prepared foods, have been discovered dating back to the Song Dynasty in China. In the larger populated cities of the time, merchants found a way to cater to busy customers who had little time or energy to prepare food during the evening. The variation in Chinese cuisine from different regions led caterers to create a list or menu for their patrons.
As early as the mid-20th century, some restaurants have relied on “menu specialists” to design and print their menus. Prior to the emergence of digital printing, these niche printing companies printed full-color menus on offset presses.