Another Day, Another American Food Holiday

    Industry News | July 13, 2015

    It’s quite possible you’re not aware of all that you’ve already missed this summer—from National Quiche Lorraine Day on May 20 to National Dry Martini Day on June 19. But don’t worry; you can make up for it by celebrating both of the culinary items (macaroni and Grand Marnier) highlighted for national recognition on July 15. While the overwhelming number of American food holidays may diffuse the holiday spirit a bit, they can also present opportunities for well-timed promotional events, and occasionally even connect your brand to a meaningful, bigger picture.

    Among the bevy of seemingly trite national food days, some in particular mark significant events that can be used for brand-building and customer engagement. Take, for instance, National Donut Day, which is celebrated on the first Friday in June. The day was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army in Chicago to honor its female workers—known as “donut lassies”—who offered “salvation” not only in terms of medical assistance, but also in the form of delicious doughnuts. To celebrate this year’s event, both Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme initiated massive doughnut giveaways, where customers could stop into a store and receive a free doughnut of any variety. Predictably, social media networks were on fire with food-grams, tweets, and company shout-outs—benefitting brands long-term to make up for short-term revenue loss from the giveaways. Besides increasing the number of tickets and making customers’ very happy, the history of the event may allow brands to align themselves with a purpose higher than pure profits.

    Even for days that don’t necessarily have histories with strong social meaning, a brand can still leverage national holidays to connect itself to higher causes. In case you didn’t know, July 13 happens to be National Fry Day. While the origin of Fry Day is a mystery, some chains are still finding success imbuing it with their own meaning and flavors. For instance, McDonald’s is celebrating by donating twenty-five cents of every McDonald’s French fries order to local Ronald McDonald House Charities. Charleys Philly Steaks is taking advantage of the extra hype for French fries to debut a new, limited-time offering: the Pepperoni Pizza Fry, loaded with fresh-grilled pepperoni, grilled mushrooms, onions and green peppers, Cheddar cheese sauce, melted Provolone, and Italian seasoning.

    Charleys has focused on cheesesteaks, lemonade, and gourmet fries since its opening in 1986, and Charleys’ vice president of marketing, Kris Miotke, says the national food holiday presents a perfect opportunity for the chain to leverage the consumer snacking trend, go over-the-top with popular flavors, and bring more attention to the gourmet fry items already on the menu.

    “When it came to National French Fry Day, we wanted to top what we already have—which is already top-level in our category,” Miotke says. “The holiday really brings it to the forefront—people absolutely give certain products more thought on those days, especially when there’s a product release that motivates them to try something different.”

    Following six long months of R&D, the end product features only ingredients that are already present in Charleys restaurants, making this specialty item simple for operators but something fresh and exciting for guests. This is the first time the brand has celebrated National Fry Day, and it seems the trend of using national days to play to new consumer desires will stay on as part of Charleys’ marketing plan. The restaurant is already looking into a special product release for National Lemonade Day, which is coming up on August 20.

    By Emily Byrd