When Every Day Is a National Food Day, Is Food Still Special?

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Happy National Rice Ball Day! Wait. You didn't know it was National Rice Ball Day? Did you know it's National Grilled Cheese Month, and National Grilled Cheese Day was celebrated last week? Well, if you didn't -- surprise! And whoopdi-do. It's also National Honey Day. Tomorrow is National Pineapple Upside-down Cake Day.

Food historian and culinary fact-finder John-Bryan Hopkins, who runs the Foodimentary website catalogs and tweets about every food holiday he can find. "Although there are many obscure and outdated food holidays that may not interest everyone, celebrating food is always a good thing," he says. "Most are foods we all are familiar with. Today is National Honey Day, I found many people on Twitter and Facebook talking about their favorite type of honey, sharing recipes and finding daily food specials at their local eating establishments who use the day to celebrate with their patrons. That's a great thing."

There is certainly an element of commercialism involved. The Common Table serves a mean grilled cheese, one with roasted pork tenderloin. The sandwich utilizes a quartet of gooey cheeses (smoked cheddar, provolone, mozzarella and Parmesan) that binds and prevents the pork from spilling out from between the sourdough bread. A ramekin of marinara dipping sauce accompanies the dish. It's a tasty lunch with suggested beer pairings on the menu. "There has been an approximately 20 percent increase in grilled cheese sales over last month," said Jeff Fryman, cicerone of The Common Table, after reviewing the numbers. It can work. "National Margarita Weekend is always a hit," noted Hopkins.

Food days can emphasize healthier eating. (National Soyfood Week wrapped up on April 18. Too bad it ended before it was time to fill Easter baskets.) They can also be gimmicks. October 4 is National Taco Day. It's a day chains like Taco Cabana use to their financial advantage. And that is a shame, unsurprising and you can't blame them, but still.

What isn't a shame is the history gleaned from Hopkins' posts about these food holidays and the discussions that are provoked. If we're going to have food holidays shoved down our throats, at least let it be done with the fun that Hopkins provides.

"Sometimes it's a perfect reason to cook or seek out something new to eat and share with others," he continued. "Who doesn't want to find a reason to celebrate life through food?"

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