Today is International Women’s Day, a day to honor the often-overlooked achievements of women and to bring attention to gender equality issues. But much less importantly, it’s also National Peanut Cluster Day, a day to celebrate a confection made by combining nuts with melted chocolate. Don’t get that confused, though, with National Peanut Butter Day (January 24), National Peanut Butter Cookie Day (June 12), National Peanut Butter Fudge Day (November 20), or even National Peanut Day (September 13). Almost every day on the calendar is now marked by the observance of one national food holiday or another.
Where did all these peanut-flavored holidays come from? You might not be surprised to learn that they’re widely credited as the invention of the National Peanut Board, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that was authorized by Congress in 1996 and created in 2000. But their true origin will remain a mystery. The board told The Counter in 2018 that it wasn’t responsible for making up any of these holidays, though it does enjoy celebrating them as a way to promote peanut consumption.
Jimmy Carter, our nation’s goober-loving 39th president, isn’t responsible for those holidays either. But his successor, Ronald Reagan, is the one who created a popular food event that’s widely celebrated every summer. (No, not National Jelly Bean Day, which, by the way, is April 22.) In 1984, Reagan signed a proclamation into law declaring the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day, as well as the entire month of July as National Ice Cream Month. Three years later, Reagan also proclaimed that June 25 would forevermore be known as National Catfish Day.
Some of our national food holidays are a bit less official, the invention of enterprising food companies and their marketing departments looking for a way to drum up sales or get free publicity. In 2006, IHOP created National Pancake Day, which normally falls on Mardi Gras (also known as Shrove Tuesday, a day when historically, Christians would make pancakes to use up all of their dairy products before Lent). On that day, IHOP gives customers a complimentary short stack of buttermilk pancakes and raises money for local charities, while getting a ton of positive press for its invented holiday. Meanwhile, National Rotisserie Chicken Day (June 2), was created by Boston Market, which sells an awful lot of, you guessed it, rotisserie chicken.
The truth is that literally anyone can invent a national food holiday. And one food blogger, John-Bryan Hopkins, did just that. His website Foodimentary.com has an exhaustive list of national food days, including more than 170 that he made up himself. When Hopkins started cataloging these events, he realized that there were some days that didn’t already have a food product associated with it. So he filled up the calendar with events like National Tater Tot Day (February 2), National Onion Ring Day (June 22), and even, for Leap Day on February 29, National Frog Legs Day.
If you want to create your own national food holiday and make it a little more official, companies can apply for recognition for an undisclosed fee from a website called the National Day Calendar. Marlo Anderson, who created the Mandan, North Dakota–based tracker, told Slate in 2014 that it commemorates 1,100 different annual holidays. (Today, it’s recognizing National Peanut Cluster Day, as well as National Oregon Day, International Women’s Day, and National Prooofreading Day. Of course, it spelled that word correctly.)
If you’re looking for something to help you beat back the winter doldrums — and you’re feeling hungry — there’s something to look forward every day this week. (These days, it can be hard to tell one day from another, which might be why some of these holidays are so appealing.) Tomorrow is both National Crabmeat Day and National Meatball Day, Wednesday is National Blueberry Popover Day and National Ranch Dressing Day, Thursday is National Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day, and, not to be outdone, Friday is National Baked Scallops Day.
Personally, I’m looking forward to June 11, a day to celebrate my favorite dessert, German chocolate cake. (It shares that day with margherita pizza.) But if I can’t wait until then for something sweet, maybe I’ll declare that Reagan got it wrong. Here’s my own proclamation: From now on, every day is National Ice Cream Day.
What I Ate: Margherita pizza with New York-style dough from Serious Eats