Everyone's celebrating food holidays lately, but it's always the same ones -- National Ice Cream Day, National Doughnut Day, National Noodle Ring Day (wait... what?). Let's get away from the mainstream options and celebrate ones that are sexier (because they're international, come from a sincere place, or will just impress the pants off the people you tell). Here are nine amazing food holidays that you probably aren't celebrating (but should be):
1. January 17th - Italian Day of International Cuisines
If you're only ever going to celebrate one food holiday -- make this it. The IDIC was created to educate folks on, while protecting and promoting, what truly authentic, quality, and traditional Italian cuisine is all about. Each year has a culinary theme; in 2008 -- when it started -- the food focus was Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, while 2013 was dedicated to tiramisu. January 17th was chosen because it's the start of the Catholic feast of St. Anthony of Egypt (patron saint of butchers), which is celebrated with good food.
2. 1st Friday of February - National Bubble Gum Day
Got, know, teach, or babysit kiddos? This is a holiday for them! National Bubble Gum Day was created in 2006 by children's book author Ruth Spiro as a way for schools to raise funds without the kid's having to sell anything. The idea is simple: For this one day, students who donate 50 cents or more can chew gum during school hours (over the years, businesses, libraries, and community centers have begun participating in the day as well).
3. 1st Saturday of Men's Division I NCAA Basketball Tournament - National Corn Dog Day
Who doesn't love spending over eight hours watching college hoops? You're gonna need some snacks if you're participating, so why not grab a corn dog (meat on a stick wrapped in carbs -- yummo)? Apparently, the food holiday started in 1992 in Corvallis, Oregon where Stan Sahnow fed son Brady (and his friend Henry Otley) corn dogs after realizing they had been immersed in watching college basketball without much sustenance. It's been celebrated every year since across homes in the U.S.!
4. April 17th - Malbec World Day
It sounds like an amusement part or the kind of department store any wino would like to own a membership card at. Where did this drinking holiday come from? On April 17th, 1853 Domingo Faustino Sarmiento submitted a bill to diversify Argentina's wine industry... over the next century and a half, the country would become notorious for its luscious malbec, and in 2011 the Wines of Argentina declared April 17th as Malbec World Day to pay tribute to the wine that revolutionized their industry.
5. May 6th - International No Diet Day
In 1992, Mary Evans Young, director of the British anti-diet campaign Diet Breaker, started International No Diet Day in the UK. Some of the goals of the day include raising awareness of weight discrimination, celebrating the beauty and diversity of different body shapes, and taking the day off from dieting or self-shaming over what we eat. You're great. Life is short. Eat what makes you happy today.
6. Last Saturday of June - National Vegan Pizza Day
A collaboration of Chicago Vegan Foods and blogger QuarryGirl, this food holiday started in 2011 as a way to celebrate one of our country's favorite foods, promote the vegan lifestyle, and to eat compassionately. It's a really easy day to do and do well: make some, buy some (like this, this, or this), eat some, share some. Saving the world one slice at a time never looked so delicious.
7. First Saturday in August - National Mustard Day
Put away the ketchup, mayo, chutney, and marmite. Today is all about mustard. Honey, whole grain, spicy brown, sweet... there are enough kinds of mustard in the world that you could celebrate with a different kind every hour during the day and never grow bored (though if you do, you may never be able to get the yellow out of the crease of your fingernails again). The Mustard Museum in Wisconsin has been the official sponsor since 1991.
8. October 4th: National Cinnamon Bun Day
October 4th might just be one of the best days of the year: It's National Taco Day, National Vodka Day, and Kanelbullens Dag (Cinnamon Bun Day). The food holiday originated in Sweden in 1999 by the Hembakningsrådet (Home Baking Council) as a way to pay homage to its 40th anniversary and the staple Swedish baked good. It's now celebrated worldwide!
9. December 29th: National Pepper Pot Day
No, this isn't a day honoring Stan Lee's character (though if you end up binge watching the Iron Man's, technically you're still celebrating). Supposedly, on December 29th, 1777 during the Revolutionary War while the Continental Army was camped at Valley Forge, food was scarce and the weather was harsh. The baker general, Christopher Ludwick, threw whatever food he could find -- including scraps of meat (like tripe) and peppercorns -- into a big pot to serve the soldiers who were suffering the elements. This warm, hearty dish invigorated the men and raised their morale, and it became known as "the soup that won the war." Make some and you might become "the friend that celebrates food holidays the hardest."
Steff Deschenes is the author of Eat The Year: 366 Fun and Fabulous Food Holidays to Celebrate Every Day (Running Press, $16.00).