Imagine taking one day out of the year, dedicating it to your all-time favorite food, spending that day eating that food and seeing pictures of your friends eating that food all over your social media feeds. Well, wake up! Your dream has come true! Food holidays are a thing, and they are here to stay.
If it seems that every year brings more food holidays than the one before, it’s because that’s true. Perhaps with good reason. In the age of hashtags and foodie-focused social media, holidays like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (Aug. 4) can be a fun way to brighten up your day. After all, who doesn’t want to celebrate chocolate chip cookies?
Food Holidays The Origin
But who is responsible for setting the dates? Where does National Guacamole Day (Nov. 14, by the way) come from?
First, a little bit of history about holidays in general. There are just 10 federal holidays such as Independence Day and Christmas; only Congress has the power to establish these. Other festive dates – Halloween and Valentine’s Day, for example – are recognized on U.S. calendars but aren’t observed by closing banks and government offices. In addition, state and local lawmakers can declare specific days to honor individuals or causes. Last year, for instance, former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared July 7 SPAM® Day in honor of the canned meat’s 80th anniversary.
National holidays, food-themed or otherwise, originate from a few places. National Day Calendar, Chase’s Calendar of Events and Foodimentary are among the best-known sources. (Foodimentary even offers daily food-based trivia and historical facts.) The sources aren’t exhaustive though. Previously unheard-of holidays sometimes will make it to the top of the trending topics list without warning simply because people are engaging with a hashtag on social media.
Individuals can submit ideas for national days. Their birthdays aren’t eligible, but all other submissions are reviewed by the firms’ respective research staff. The various calendars — which are mostly in sync but don’t always agree — will update everyone from bloggers to big media outlets about holidays. Think National Toasted Marshmallow Day (Aug. 30) and National Ants on a Log Day (second Tuesday in September). This snack, as any fan of SKIPPY® peanut butter or Justin’s® nut butter knows, is made by spreading peanut butter on celery and topping it with a row of raisins.
Using Trending Topics To Support Marketing Efforts
Hormel Foods embraces food holidays for, among other things, their ability to deepen the company’s voice in trending conversations on social media. As part of its digital strategy, teams keep tabs on upcoming holidays and start planning a few months ahead of time. One year for National Peanut Butter Day, Hormel Foods Digital Communications Associate Beth Hillson once spent time at Skippy Foods in Little Rock, Arkansas. She profiled employees on the company’s social feeds. “It’s our purpose in action — Inspired People. Inspired Food.™ Anytime I can show the people behind the food, it’s a win,” Hillson said.
“Food holidays are a way to surprise and delight,” she said. “If you tell people it’s a holiday, it catches their attention, and they want to celebrate.”
Not all food holidays are created equally, she added. Some get more attention than others, oftentimes based on the popularity of the item. Chili, pastrami and guacamole are favored dishes, and bacon is in a league of its own.
Add Extra Bacon
“In fact, you don’t always need a holiday, Hillson said.” Anytime you share a picture of bacon, it gets engagement. People love bacon.”
“Bacon is always on our minds,” John Hernandez echoed. Hernandez is a brand manager on the breakfast meats team at Hormel Foods, which includes the Hormel® Black Label® bacon brand. Among other duties, his team plans for engagement opportunities around food holidays throughout the year.
The crispy meat product is so popular, you can officially celebrate it twice: first on International Bacon Day (the Saturday before Labor Day) and again on National Bacon Day (Dec. 30).
Most bacon lovers will argue that every day is bacon day. As Hernandez noted, “Bacon always makes everything better.” The meat’s popularity means that bacon’s food holidays have jumped off social media feeds and into real life.
A few years ago, the Hormel® Black Label® bacon brand team commissioned a baconpowered motorcycle that drove cross-country before taking a star turn for fans at the San Diego International Bacon Film Festival. This event was followed by a separate event, San Diego Bacon Fest, which takes place each year on International Bacon Day. While there are multiple bacon-themed festivals around the country throughout the year, San Diego’s festival appears to be the only one dedicated to International Bacon Day. As the organizers cheekily wrote on their own site, “This is the best event ever.”
With the rise of social media, there are several ways to know which food holidays are coming up so that you don’t get caught off guard Nov. 6 when National Nachos Day rolls up. Food holidays are published a full year ahead of time, so you can scroll through each month and add your favorites to your calendar. A few weeks before the holiday, some brands will begin teasing their upcoming content to get fans excited and to make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to celebrate.
Food holidays are a way to surprise and delight. If you tell people it’s a holiday, it catches their attention, and they want to celebrate.Beth Hillson, digital communications associate at Hormel Foods
On the day itself, follow the social media accounts for your favorite brands and the hashtags for the day. #NationalChiliDogDay, for one.
For fans of food holidays, following the hashtags means two things: You can discover new accounts to follow from brands like Hormel Foods and from fellow foodie fans, and you can join in the fun by contributing photos of your own food-holiday celebrations.
Who knows? Perhaps you’ll gain a new follower or two!
Food Holiday Photography Tips
When it comes to successful food photography for joining in on the fun, the key is to keep it simple. Pay attention to the small details, like shadows or clutter that can mar a composition. Shoot your plates from several angles, and get physically close instead of using a zoom lens. Use natural light not flash, where possible, and look for bright pops of color. Vibrant walls and pretty tablecloths provide contrast and texture.
“With food, focus on lighting and plating,” Hillson said. “Success on social is all about how you present it.”
Click on the stories below for more food photography tips from the experts!