Indiana created EAT in 1964 for the New York World’s Fair (April 22–October 18, 1964, and April 21–October 17, 1965). He was one of ten artists, a group that included Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg and Ellsworth Kelly, invited by the architect Philip Johnson to hang a work around the exterior of his Theaterama, part of the New York State Pavilion.
The work, which the artist described as “a large, hard-edge sign which will come to life with lights,”  was turned off the first day of the fair, and remained dark for the duration. Although a pavilion official attributed this to electrical issues, Indiana remarked that “The sign was made by Broadway’s oldest and most reliable sign maker, who has guaranteed service if anything goes wrong. The real story is that too many jokers came up and saw the ‘EAT’ sign and asked for the restaurant. That bothered the officials, so they turned it off. Well, in the cause of art, they should be willing to put up with some bother.” 
The sign was not exhibited again until 2009, when it was installed at the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, as part of the exhibition Robert Indiana and the Star of Hope, June 20, 2009–January 10, 2010.
 Richard Brown Baker, Oral history interview with Robert Indiana, New York, September 12 and November 7, 1963, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., p. 159.
 Grace Glueck, "In Britain, What’s a Government Budget without Art?" New York Times, July 19, 1964, p. X12.