It's doubtful anybody will roll out of bed Wednesday morning giddy that Jan. 8 is National English Toffee Day. It's a fair bet, actually, that few of you even knew that, but it is, at least according to foodimentary.com, a website that lists such things.
According to its site, which was founded in 2006 as a blog by John-Bryan Hopkins, every day is national food day for something. Thursday is National Apricot Day and Friday is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, for example.
Some days are so special, in fact, they feature multiple foods. Sunday is National Marzipan, National Curried Chicken and National Glazed Doughnut Day. And it's not just the days of the month that are highlighted. January is also the national month for hot tea, oatmeal, slow cooking, soup, baking and fat-free living.
While such days sound like they are given actual "national" status by some governing body, often they are not. They are sometimes given an official blessing by a city council, a mayor, or even the president of the United States, as was the case on July 9, 1984, when Ronald Reagan declared it National Ice Cream Day.
But mostly it's guys like Hopkins who make such declarations. He gathers his list using existing lists or days created by almond growers, for example, or he decides on his own which foods should be attached to which days. He created his list to be just that, a reference list for people who like food.
"When I started this, there was not a place to go to find this stuff," he says. "In fact, there was a point in time where no one cared about them, but I like to celebrate food."
He says when he started, most food-related blogs featured recipes or cooking tips.
"Food holidays seemed to work for me," he says, "and when I expressed it on Twitter, it became a nationally trending thing by pure accident."
At one time, foodimentary.com was a Top 50 trending site on Twitter around the world, "which is pure craziness," he says.
Over the years, he has been quoted and referenced on so many cooking shows, websites and media outlets that he has quit counting. Restaurants sometimes use his list to create marketing campaigns — or excuses to feature a food item.
Firebellymarketing.com is another site that lists national food days, with an eye toward restaurants using the lists in their marketing campaigns.
"It could be used to sell food, but it is most effective as a conversation starter," Hopkins says.
Plenty of restaurants take part in the observances as a way to push a particular item on the menu, like National Doughnut Day or National Lemonade Day. Chick-fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day has become a pop-culture phenomenon, with the company reporting that as many as 1.8 million customers in a day have dressed like a cow to receive free food.
Chuy's, a Tex-Mex restaurant chain with a location on Gunbarrel Road, observes several food-related holidays during the year, including National Margarita Day on Feb. 22 and National Taco Day on Oct. 4. Wednesday, the chain is having its annual Elvis Birthday Bash with several food and drink specials. Customers who come dressed as Elvis Presley, or his former wife, Priscilla, will receive a free entree of their choice.
"Elvis is our patron saint at Chuy's, and we love to celebrate his life with a birthday party every year," says Ashley Ingle, Chuy's vice president of marketing. "It's amazing to see Chuy's fans who love Elvis as much as we do."
Hopkins says the whole national food day campaigns started in the '50s and '60s by retailers looking to sell certain foods to housewives when the foods were out of season. Things like frozen strawberries.
"I thought I should change that, so I try to put things on my list at a time when it makes sense. I try to make sure it is the right time of year when people want to celebrate them," he says.
That includes National Frog Legs Day on Leap Day, Feb. 29.
Hopkins says he daily gets requests from people asking him to add a new day, "but my big stance is that I think we have enough days. Unless we have some new food come along."
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.
National Food Days in January
National Bloody Mary Day
National Black Eyed Pea Day
National Buffet Day
National Cream Puff Day
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
National Spaghetti Day
National Whipped Cream Day
National Shortbread Day
National Bean Day
National Tempura Day
National English Toffee Day
National Apricot Day
National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
National Hot Toddy Day
National Milk Day
National Marzipan Day
National Curried Chicken Day
National Glazed Doughnut Day
National Gluten-Free Day
National Peach Melba Day
National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day
National Bagel Day
National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day
National Strawberry Ice Cream Day
National Fig Newton Day
International Hot and Spicy Food Day
National Hot Buttered Rum Day
National Gourmet Coffee Day
Peking Duck Day
National Popcorn Day
National Buttercrunch Day
National Cheese Lover’s Day
National Granola Bar Day
National New England Clam Chowder Day
National Blonde Brownie Day
National Southern Food Day
National Pie Day
National Rhubarb Pie Day
National Peanut Butter Day
Lobster Thermidor Day
National Irish Coffee Day
National Peanut Brittle Day
National Chocolate Cake Day
National Blueberry Pancake Day
National Corn Chip Day
National Croissant Day
National Hot Chocolate Day