Eat the Year

366 Fun and Fabulous Food Holidays to Celebrate Every Day


By Steff Deschenes

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Everyone loves food.

But did you know that every day is a national food or drink holiday? It’s true! There’s National Bloody Mary Day, National Cheese Lover’s Day, and even National Blueberry Pancake Day — just to name a few.

Based on the popular blog Almanac of Eats, Eat the Year is a tribute to food-lovers everywhere that introduces a national food or drink holiday for every day of the year. From National Martini Day to National Chip and Dip Day, this book includes tasty recipes, food history, and a variety of food holidays that are as diverse as they are delicious!




At the end of 2011, I had gained a following of sorts. People had watched me—a silly twentysomething with perpetually bad hair—take a photo of myself at dinner every night for two years and started to connect because I was a real person going through real events. They saw friends come and go from my life, traveled where I traveled, and I never tried to hide the days when I was sad, sick, or lonely. At the end of that year—around December 29—I began wondering if I should evolve my daily photoblogging project into something different.

I had been watching more and more folks post on social media about national food holidays, and thought it might be interesting to see if I could eat a food holiday every day. I pitched the idea to a couple friends, and, literally, forty-eight hours later (just an hour or so before the clock struck midnight on 2012), with their help, my food blog, Almanac of Eats, was born.

So my journey to “eat the year” began.

Now since you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve realized that I successfully did eat a food holiday of some kind every day for one year. I fully acknowledge that I wasn’t the first person to eat the national food holidays, and I know I won’t be the last. (Actually, I’m hoping this book inspires you to try it!) But I’m particularly proud of the unique way in which I accomplished my own adventure to do so; not once did I compromise my vegetarian values. Also, the first year I celebrated the national food holidays over one-third of the year ended up being sponsored by companies who believed in what I had to say—the bottom line of which was, is, and always will be inclusivity.

Nobody tells you how to celebrate Christmas (if that’s your holiday of choice in December), do they? For the most part—if you remove the commercialism from it—it’s one part tradition and one part instinct. Holidays are both very personal and a reflection of the person celebrating them. So it shouldn’t be expected that everyone believes in, does, or practices the same thing. Though less serious, the same is true for food holidays. Know that I never have and never will push my personal or dietary beliefs on you or tell you how to celebrate any of the days. Some foodies believe their opinion is far too important than what it really is, and unfortunately they will try to tell you there is a right and wrong way to celebrate. Do not listen.

Food holidays are about capturing the essence of the day—whatever that means to you. They’re about having fun, exploration, education, trying new things, and camaraderie. Embrace the days, make them uniquely your own, and do what feels right. And if you’re feeling uninspired one day, but still want to partake, don’t feel guilty getting something premade or celebrating a couple days late!

There are some things you should be armed with, though, before beginning your own feat to Eat the Year. You should know I did not make up any of these holidays. Through researching food holidays I simply culminated what I thought was the ultimate list based entirely on what the majority of people seem to be celebrating.

Also, I guarantee that between the time of my writing this introduction and you reading it, a new food holiday will have no doubt popped up, so forgive my inability to include it here! Also, the food calendar can be very frustrating. Trust me, I know! There are loads of repeated days, but that’s because somewhere along the line people lobbied for those days to be recognized (perhaps without realizing it already existed). Which brings me to my last point.

People often ask how food holidays become food holidays, which are really just daily observances held in honor of a certain food (or drink). Usually they’re created (and then promoted) by food or health organizations, public relation firms, food bloggers, or through petition to a governmental body (sometimes local, sometimes national) for consideration. So the majority of these aren’t actually “national” holidays, but that’s what they’ve been coined as. You will see that there are actually a couple days that the president himself has proclaimed as legitimate national holidays, though I don’t know why we don’t get the day off for them!

Cheers—and happy food holidays to come!    



01 National Bloody Mary Day

02 National Buffet Day

03 National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

04 National Spaghetti Day

05 National Whipped Cream Day

06 National Bean Day

07 National Tempura Day

08 National English Toffee Day

09 National Apricot Day

10 National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

11 National Hot Toddy Day

12 National Curried Chicken Day

13 National Peach Melba Day

14 National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

15 National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day

16 International Hot and Spicy Food Day

17 International Day of Italian Cuisines

18 National Peking Duck Day

19 National Popcorn Day

20 National Cheese Lover’s Day

21 National New England Clam Chowder Day

22 National Blonde Brownie Day

23 National Pie Day

24 National Lobster Thermidor Day

25 National Irish Coffee Day

26 National Peanut Brittle Day

27 National Chocolate Cake Day

28 National Blueberry Pancake Day

29 National Corn Chip Day

30 National Croissant Day

31 National Hot Chocolate Day


International Gourmet Coffee Month

National Bread Machine Baking Month

National Diet Month

National Fat-Free Living Month

National Hot Tea Month

National Meat Month

National Oatmeal Month

National Prune Breakfast Month

National Slow Cooking Month

National Soup Month

National Wheat Bread Month

• • •

3rd Saturday—National Soup Swap Day



              “When people ask me if Dean Martin drank, let me put it this way. If Dracula bit Dean in the neck, he’d get a Bloody Mary.”—Red Buttons

When I was younger, my mom taught me a really valuable lesson about New Year’s resolutions: You never start them on January 1st, especially if your resolution is to lose weight.

After cruising through a couple months of holidays, indulging and binging on all manner of sinful things, do you really think on the very first day of the new year you’re gonna have the willpower to say no to all those holiday leftovers that are giving you the come-hither look?

C’mon, it’s too much pressure! If you give in to even one piece of pie making sexytime eyes at you, you’re gonna feel defeated.

And that’s no fun.

So let’s postpone this whole New Year’s resolution to eat healthy and get fit until tomorrow. Besides, who really wants to start some new regimented diet when they’re hungover? I know I don’t. The only thing I want to do on January 1st is eat my weight in greasy foods and sneer at people who are existing too loudly.

Oh, and crawl into a hot bath while nursing a tall Bloody Mary, which I’m pretty sure is the only thing that cures the “what the hell did I just do last night?” feeling.

Besides, it sorta has vegetables in it . . . right? So it’s totally okay to drink if your resolution is to up your daily veggie intake. Maybe even have two! I’ve got only your best interests at heart—I’m making sure you get your vitamins now because if you’re eating the year with me, trust me, there’s going to be plenty of days ahead where we do nothing but damage to your body.

So bottoms up!

Today is also Apple Gifting Day.



Makes 2 to 4 drinks

       1 cup vodka

       3 cups organic tomato juice

       1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

       2 teaspoons black pepper

       2 teaspoons celery salt

       1 celery stalk for each drink (2 to 4 needed)

In a pitcher, stir together the vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire, pepper, and celery salt. Pour the drink into ice-filled glasses, add a celery stalk to each drink, and serve.

Tip! Some Worcestershire sauces are made with anchovies. If you’ve got a plant-based diet, you might want to double-check the ingredients. Personally, I always go with Annie’s Organic Worcestershire Sauce.



              “I went to this restaurant last night that was set up like a big buffet in the shape of an Ouija board. You’d think about what kind of food you want, and the table would move across the floor to it.” —Stephen Wright

According to Templeton the rat in Charlotte’s Web, “a fair [not “life” . . . though that’s applicable, too] is a veritable smörgåsbord, orgåsbord, orgåsbord,” and I tend to agree . . . especially today.

The smörgåsbord—which translates to a “table of (open-faced) sandwiches”—originated in Sweden. Personally, I’m no stranger to this “buffet” concept. My family gatherings were always epic affairs because there were so many people. It only made sense to serve food stuffs in giant containers from which people could serve themselves whenever, whatever, and however much they wanted. It also taught me survival skills: If you wanted stuffed mushrooms (a coveted food on my dad’s side), you stalked the oven until the moment they came out. Then you filled your plate and fled the scene. You could always let them cool once they were in your possession, but if you waited too long after they hit the “buffet table,” you risked the chance of not getting any at all.

Family Buffet Tactics 101, right there.

Even if you’re not serving a clan tonight, you can still celebrate like you are—which is how I did—with tubs and tubs of food that I could stuff myself silly on and that I didn’t have to compete for.

(In case you haven’t figured it out yet, yesterday I lied to you. You’re not starting your New Year’s resolution today. Actually, why don’t we just go ahead and scratch that idea altogether now.)

Today is also National Cream Puff Day.



              “Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.” —Ikkyu Sojun

No one seems to quite know why January 3rd was declared National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. It just is. My thoughts are that it was created because A) there are a lot of these confectionaries left over from Yankee Swap/Mean Santa, and B) to excite and remind us about the next holiday coming up . . . Valentine’s Day!

I’m not usually a huge fan of commercially promoted love or naked babies shooting arrows at people (that just kind of freaks me out), but I am a fan of anything chocolate. And juicy, sweet cherries are always a nice surprise to find bursting out of the center of a rich, creamy coating of white, milk, or dark chocolate.

Although, truth be told, I originally ended up celebrating today a little nontraditionally. I purchased chocolate ice cream and a pound of fresh cherries. After one bite, I realized it wasn’t going to be the dainty “single scoop topped with perfectly sliced fruit while curled up on the couch with a good book” moment I had originally envisioned. It ended up being more like a “plop down on the kitchen floor, gorge myself on the entire pint of ice cream and bag of cherries while attempting to fend off the pet bunny with my elbows and knees as he tried to lunge for a bite” kind of moment!



Makes 20 cherries

(or however many are in the jar)

       1 (16-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained

       ½ (8-ounce) bag chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

       ½ (8-ounce) bag peanut butter chips (about 1 cup)

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set it aside.

Drain the cherries, place them on paper towels, and dry them thoroughly, as any moisture on the cherries will prevent the other ingredients from sticking to them.

Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips together in a double boiler (or a microwave), stirring occasionally until blended and smooth.

Holding a cherry by its stem, dip it into the mixture, covering completely, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve run out of cherries. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to let the cherries harden, about 20 to 30 minutes. (During this time, keep your burner on low so that the remaining chocolate and peanut butter mixture stays melty; stir frequently.)

Take the sheet out of the refrigerator, dip the cherries a second time, place them back on the baking sheet and back into the refrigerator. Once the cherries have set, another 45 minutes or so, enjoy these little nuggets of love!



              “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” —Sophia Loren

The word spaghetti comes from the Italian plural of spaghetto meaning “thin rope.” And there’s little sexier in the food world than sharing a big bowl of it.

If the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp taught me anything, it’s that true love overlooks the differences between socioeconomic classes, and when life gives you a long strand of pasta with tomato sauce and a hot fella, you dive right in. Why? Because a sexy pasta scene like that is guaranteed to end in four things:

       1.  A full belly.

       2.  A feeling of camaraderie when both parties inevitably splash sauce all over the place.

       3.  Smooching.

       4.  A family-friendly morality lesson that despite how much or little money we have, we’re essentially all the same. Every one of us—in spite of our lot in life—absolutely needs to eat to stay alive.

Oh, and we all deserve a little lovin’, too.

So find a hungry friend—or a ravenous lover—and get your spaghetti on.



              “Whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all if it hasn’t been whipped with whips, just like poached eggs isn’t poached eggs unless it’s been stolen in the dead of the night.” —Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Unlike many of its counterparts, today’s food holiday actually has an origin!

On January 5, 1914, a man named Aaron “Bunny” Lapin (not such a creative nickname, by the way: lapin means “bunny” in French) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He would grow up to become the founder of Reddi-wip. Yes, whipped cream totally existed before 1948, but it wasn’t until then that Lapin put Reddi-wip inside the super-convenient, disposable aerosol spray canisters, thus revolutionizing the whipped cream world.

And here I bet you thought I was gonna talk about that time in college when me and all my super cute girlfriends had a wild, crazy whipped cream fight in our skimpy pajamas, right? Have you ever actually had a whipped cream fight? Your skin feels like it has a layer of film on it, and you smell like rotting dairy for days. I don’t wanna ruin anyone’s fantasy, but no matter what the movies may say, it’s really best to just eat your whipped cream (straight outta the can like I did today) and avoid getting it all over your private bits.

Trust me on this one.



Whipped cream cans use nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas,” to dispense the sweet white stuff.



              “Beans are neither fruit nor musical.” —Bart, The Simpsons

One of the best skills to have is the ability to cook a delicious meal. Not only does it feel good to be able to provide for yourself in such a simple way, but also people feel indebted to you when you satiate their hunger with something tasty (and, while I can’t guarantee it, this may result in you getting lucky).

The very first two things I learned to make as a self-sufficient young lass were tacos and chili, which are a lot more alike than you might realize. And over the years, both dishes have evolved with me—especially my chili. I originally made it by tossing some kidney beans, a mega can of crushed tomatoes, a bag of soy meat crumbles, and a package of chili seasoning into a big pot. Once it seemed cooked “enough,” I’d eat it smothered in a ton of raw onions, cheese, and sour cream. It was uncomplicated, cheap to make, and tremendously filling (eating raw onions, however, will most likely not result in you getting lucky).

But I’ve since stepped up my game and have started exploring the fascinating world of beans. And I mean that sincerely. They all have such unique textures and flavors that finding the perfect balance for my big-girl chili has been a fun experiment. The waxy kidney beans, creamy pinto beans, and meaty garbanzo beans that I use in today’s recipe is by far my best combo to date.

Tossing it all on a bed of crispy french fries and melting cheese on top doesn’t hurt either, I suppose!

Today is also National Shortbread Day.



Makes 6 to 8 servings

       1 large onion, diced

       2 garlic cloves, minced

       2 tablespoons olive oil

       6 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

       1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

       1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

       1 (15-ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed


On Sale
Sep 30, 2014
Page Count
432 pages
Running Press

Steff Deschenes

About the Author

Steff Deschenes studied culinary arts, was the head baker for a major grocery store, and has been a marketing director for several food/drink companies. She also self-published The Ice Cream Theory, which went on to win ten independent book awards, and was featured on a number of popular food blogs and websites. She lives in Portland, Maine.

Learn more about this author