The combined efforts of food industry marketing firms, lobbyists, and infatuated eaters have left no calendar date unfilled with at least one food observance (and in many cases, multiple ones) for every day of the year. Food-themed websites like The Nibble and OC Foodies have devoted no small effort to chronicling these daily events, with the former including relevant recipes and fun facts when available. Not even February 29th, a date that passes our way but once every four years, is spared, having been named National Frogs’ Legs Day (‘cause it’s celebrated during Leap Year, and frogs leap. Get it? Get it?)
His name is John-Bryan Hopkins, a food writer from Birmingham, Alabama, and founder of the popular website Foodimentary.com. Hardly the originator of the concept of food holidays, Hopkins is nonetheless responsible for filling out the calendar with hundreds of food observance days he admits to having invented based on the foods he loves to eat. The Shorty Award-winning food fact enthusiast took his site live in 2006, and as of this writing, has roughly 863,000 Twitter followers.
So, let’s nitpick briefly: the U.S. technically has no national holidays (dates on which all businesses are closed by law). There are, of course, Federal holidays, but those apply only to Washington D.C., federal employees, and federal institutions/federally-owned properties in those states that choose to observe them. Government has given us observance dates dedicated to food, such as when President Ronald Reagan made March 6th National Frozen Food Day in 1984 and June 25th National Catfish Day in 1987. Some state legislatures, governors, and mayors also can proclaim special observance days, and Congress can issue commemorative resolutions that lack the force of law. But these designated observances, despite having names that begin with the word “National,” still can’t be considered true national holidays, if we’re going with the textbook definition of the term.
One needn’t be a food ambassador, food industry insider, or legislator in order to create a food-themed celebration day. And despite prevailing myths, not all such observances originate in the fever dreams of nefarious industry publicists. Bubble Gum Day was started in 2006 by a children’s book author, meaning there’s nothing stopping you from getting “National String Candy Necklace Day” going, if string candy necklaces are your jam. There are three paths to achieving a day dedicated to the edible you hold most dear:
1: You can publicly proclaim the date to be whatever you’ve decided, then wait for the notion to catch fire via social media and good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Crafting an attention-grabbing hashtag and graphics will pay big dividends if you go this route.
2: You can lobby your local and state elected officials to inaugurate the day on your behalf. Find a way to tie your holiday to economic growth (something that’ll bolster tourism, relevant production and manufacturing, local farming, etc.) and you’ll have their attention.
3: You can throw some money at the issue via websites like NationalDayCalendar.com that take a lot of legwork out of the process for you, if you’re willing to part with some coin to make it happen. Standard packages have been known to include listing your holiday on their website, constructing a media kit advertising your holiday to established press contacts, and issuing a framed holiday proclamation certificate. This method can get expensive fast, so spend responsibly.
Many people embrace certain dishes in times of joy and pain, for the comfort and nostalgia they provide. From Mom’s peach cobbler to the smoky rib tips at your favorite BBQ joint, some foods just lend themselves to celebration, making it easy to get behind a national day devoted to them. Other more obscure edibles are likewise having their day in growing numbers, and with droves of laughably-specific food holidays joining an already crowded calendar with each passing year (I’m looking at you, National Pizza With the Works Except Anchovies Day), some people are starting to call shenanigans on the whole “food holidays” caboodle. From cynics dismissing most as flaccid marketing devices designed only to foster consumerism, to food-loving minimalists imploring readers to reject the entire lot of food-based observances in favor of traditional feasts like Thanksgiving, one thing is clear: many are starting to suspect that food holidays are a lot of hot air, and not the fun kind of hot air that your convection oven pushes around.
An ongoing list of recent presidential proclamations lives on the White House website, though there’s little to be found over the past several years in terms of official food observance days declared. While the President is authorized to declare such a commemorative day by proclamation, it’s not something that gets done often. You might be better off taking a more personal hand in getting National Candy String Necklace Day off the ground after all.