12 Little-Known Food Holidays Food Trucks Should Capitalize OnNational Grilled Cheese Day, anyone?
Did you know that Aug. 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day? Or that April 13 is National Peach Cobbler Day? What about National Pizza With the Works Except Anchovies Day, on Nov. 12?
Food holidays are a fun way to celebrate our favorite foods. If you’re in the food truck business, they can also help you draw in more customers.
Big brands have the luxury of offering freebies on these special days, which usually bring out customers in droves. But you don’t have to be a franchisee of a major chain to capitalize on these food holidays yourself. Here are 12 to know about, along with some business-boosting tips to help you leverage them.
January 2: National Cream Puff Day
If your food truck has a best-selling menu item, it probably has a corresponding food holiday, which could turn an ordinary day on the job into a banner day for business. For Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, that item is cream puffs.
The landmark eatery promises an authentic German experience, from the selection of brats and schnitzels on the menu to the lederhosen and dirndl donned by the wait staff. But when Schmidt’s rolls out one of its wildly popular sausage trucks, the lines immediately start forming — and the jumbo-sized-yet-light-as-a-feather cream puffs are the star of the show.
On National Cream Puff Day, everyone from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati flocks to Schmidt’s to get their hands on these legendary desserts.
February 5: World Nutella Day
Every Feb. 5, the bustling New York City Italian market Eataly, run by world-renowned Food Network chef Mario Batali, becomes a shrine to Nutella. Yes, everyone’s favorite chocolate hazelnut spread has its own holiday. And, just like the product, the holiday dedicated to it is all about spreading happiness.
Batali, for his part, offers Nutella pizza on the day. Across the pond in the U.K., where Nutella is almost more popular than peanut butter, a number of bakeries and cafes add special pastries to their menus, like Nutella cupcakes, Nutella eclairs and even strawberry and Nutella crepes with papaya gelato.
March 20: National Ravioli Day
These irresistible pasta pockets are wonderful any day of the year, but on March 20, they’re a cause celebrate. Italian restaurant chain Brio Bravo offers half-price ravioli entrees, and St. Louis’ Trattoria Marcella offers a ravioli-themed prix fixe menu that includes toasted ravioli crouton salad and white chocolate mascarpone cheesecake ravioli.
If your mobile kitchen serves ravioli, there’s no better time to remind folks just how versatile this dish is.
April 12: National Grilled Cheese Day
Two pieces of toasty, buttery bread, oozing with melty cheese, dipped in tomato soup? There’s something magical about this simple sandwich, and it’s no surprise that there are entire restaurant chains dedicated to it and all its variations. But you may not know that there’s a holiday associated with it.
Knowing how easy it is to make one, and how sought-after these sandwiches are, should be all the motivation you need to turn Grilled Cheese Day into your food truck’s most profitable day of the year.
May 4: National Hoagie Day
Depending on what part of the country you’re from, you might call this elongated sandwich stuffed with lunch meat, veggies, cheese and dressing a sub, wedge, hoagie, hero or grinder. But on May 4, the hoagie takes center stage, and delis across the country are more than happy to join in the applause. Even if you don’t normally call it a hoagie, today might be the day to embrace the moniker – with a handy discount to show you’re hip to the lingo.
June 12: International Falafel Day
Falafel may be deep fried, but it’s full of high-fiber, high-protein chickpea goodness. No wonder hungry crowds adore this Middle Eastern staple. Falafel trucks the world over would be wise to observe this day every June 12, handing out samples, offering 2-for-1 deals and even setting up a free falafel bar. Don’t forget plenty of tahini for drizzling.
July 15: National Gummi Worm Day
This gelatinous candy has wormed its way into the hearts of kids and adults alike. And no matter what kind of truck you’re running, this is a day you can easily get in on. Simply empty a bag of gummi worms into a bowl and display it in the front of your truck, along with a sign trumpeting the day and offering patrons to “take a worm.” This is a great tip for mobile kitchen owners to get noticed and increase foot traffic. (Side note: July 15 is also National Tapioca Pudding Day. Make of it anything you will.)
August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
It’s no coincidence so many food holidays in August are associated with cold treats. What would a typical American summer be without ice cream sandwiches (Aug. 2), cherry popsicles (Aug. 26) and frozen custard (Aug. 8)? Offering a special on the standard packaged variety is one way to ring in the day, or go a step further and create your own combinations from scratch. Or take it all the way and build an all-ice-cream-sandwich menu for the day: chocolate chip cookie dough sandwich, Oreo cookies ‘n cream sandwich, strawberry vanilla swirl sandwich with ladyfingers as “bread” – yours will be the sweetest truck on the block for sure.
September 5: National Cheese Pizza Day
This day celebrates pizza in its truest form: cheesy, saucy and not weighed down toppings. Let your customers know you’ve got plenty of plain old pie by running a special, or combine the concept with another item that’s already in your arsenal (pizza grilled cheese, perhaps?).
October 26: National Pumpkin Day
Not to be confused with National Pumpkin Spice Day, which is three weeks earlier and doesn’t necessarily require the participation of actual pumpkin, National Pumpkin Day celebrates the beloved gourd with a bit more authenticity. On this day, as fall kicks into high gear, the antioxidant-rich pumpkin gets its due. From the sweet to the savory, folks in the food business have found a way to inject pumpkin into everything – and so can you. Pumpkin soup with croutons? Pumpkin ice cream? Pumpkin tacos? On this day, let your creativity shine.
November 18: National Apple Cider Day
It’s a staple of the farmers market and a signature beverage of fall. Many people who barely lay eyes on an apple the rest of the year will jump at the chance to enjoy fresh, locally produced apple cider, with that full-bodied, tangy flavor that’s second only to chicken soup in its ability to cure the cold-weather doldrums. It can be a perfect addition to your seasonal food truck menu, especially on Nov. 18.
December 5: National Comfort Food Day
When the weather outside is frightful, comfort food is oh, so delightful. Think biscuits and gravy. Spaghetti and meatballs. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Chicken and waffles. Mac & cheese. Barbecue brisket. It’s the kind of food that crosses all genres, cuisines and locales. And today is the day to honor it by serving up comfort food from the comfort of your truck to the chilly, hungry masses. Go ahead: Fill ‘em up like it’s Christmas dinner.