Learn How to Create a National Food Holiday
Who knew February 2 is National Frozen Yogurt Day? (A not-so-little frozen yogurt chain told me.) February 19, meanwhile, is National Chocolate Mint Day, according to the National Confectioners' Association, which also notes that August 30th is not National Marshmallow Day but National Toasted Marshmallow Day—a boon for chocolate-covered graham cracker makers.
You get the picture: for niche confections marketers, these hyper-specific "food holidays" make every day Valentine's Day. Back in 2007 the New York Times counted 175 food days, a number that has surely inflated as the cult of food has grown in past years.
In 2009, Congress dubbed 3/14 National Pi Day, which quickly became a heaven for pie lovers and pie businesses. Ronald Reagan chose July as National Ice Cream Month, dreamy marketing fodder or maybe even a good time to start an ice cream business?
Steps to Create a National Food Holiday
So, what's an aspiring maker of pressed okra juice to do to get on the food holiday calendar?
You may have seen Foodimentary.com which highlights certain food holidays, of which there are many per day. Founder John-Bryan Hopkins admits, "It is true that many food holidays over the years I have created or replaced them myself."
Therein lies the answer of how food holidays come to life. People like you create them, most often in the spirit of promoting a food you make or produce from your region or your favorite alcoholic libations or innocent sodas. Here's how to go about putting your food cause on the calendar, or tapping into an existing holiday:
- Decide your goal: What do you want to accomplish by creating a food holiday? Consider that much like healthy eating "months," such for diabetes awareness, your holiday might focus on an eating or sustainability behavior: National Bag-Free Month? National Zero Plastic Bottle Month?
- Research: Find out if the holiday you're thinking of declaring already exists. (Wikipedia's list is out of date.)
- Choose your approach to creating the food holiday:
- Informally, the "we hereby declare" way: You'll find more adoption and word-of-mouth by banding together with a trade association, food manufacturers or other stakeholders. You don't want to be the only one celebrating National Barrel-Aged Whiskey Day unless you've got a barrel-sized budget. (If the answer is no, you can always tap into, and add a twist of your own, on May 16, 2015, World Whiskey Day!)
- Formally, the lobbying way: While the White House has the highest power to proclaim a day, week or month as honoring a certain cause, you can also approach your state or local government, or chamber of commerce, to declare and support a holiday.
- As you can imagine, you'll find greater success if your holiday supports the state or local economy creating jobs whether directly from farms and manufacturers or indirectly through tourism, for example. Think national and local restaurant weeks.
- Promote the food holiday well in advance to maximize exposure. Get in the mindset that this holiday is as big as any other major selling days.
- Research successful food holiday marketing campaigns in categories or with customers similar to yours.
- Make posters and other promotional materials with deals and specials.
- Agree on a social media hashtag.
- Make sure retailers or any channel partners you work with know how they can promote and benefit from the food holiday.
- Plan a really fun customer experience with creative ways to involve avid fans in the holiday. This could include an Instagram recipe contest, Facebook stories or asking favorite flavors or telling a friend. Promote your contests to new customers too.
- Spread the word to the media and food holiday calendars with your case to be included. Again, for those informally declared holidays, the more companies on board, the greater the chance you'll get promoted.
Reality Check: Should You Really Invent a New Food Day?
Sure, these food holidays are mega cheesy (especially on June 4, National Cheese Day), called out as a blatant excuse to binge or promote a product category. But if National Smoked Sriracha Hot Dog Day generates jeers, it's generating conversation—what social media is all about.