There are plenty of holidays worth celebrating, whether they give you a day off work or an excuse to exchange gifts. And then there are holidays that get you free food.
National Doughnut Day, National Coffee Day and National Cheeseburger Day are just a few examples of food holidays founded by various restaurants, companies and public figures. Whatever their origins, these free food days are big marketing opportunities for dining establishments, which offer free or discounted food to bring in customers. That means freebies for you.
Read on for some of the best food holidays to celebrate — and take advantage of — every month of the year, as well as restaurants that usually participate. To find out about deals in real time as these holidays approach, follow your favorite restaurants on social media, download their mobile apps and sign up for their mailing lists.
National Pie Day. This holiday, on Jan. 23, celebrates the birthday of Charlie Papazian. The nuclear engineer, brewer and teacher was a fan of pies. The day became popular, and the American Pie Council started sponsoring it. There’s usually a smattering of pie deals each year, from restaurants such as Bakers Square and Marie Callender’s, which offer discounted or even free slices of pie with purchase.
National Pizza Day. This holiday is celebrated on Feb. 9 each year. Restaurants that have taken part in recent National Pizza Days include Toppers Pizza, Domino’s and other local pizza joints. Plus, in the past H&R Block has celebrated by giving Domino’s gift cards to tax filers, and convenience store chain Pilot Flying J has offered free pizza slices.
National Margarita Day. The origins of this holiday on Feb. 22 are fittingly blurry. But it’s a pretty major holiday among food holidays, with a slew of Tex-Mex chains participating every year. Usual participants include Abuelo’s, Bahama Breeze and Cyclone Anaya’s.
Pi Day. Not to be confused with Pie Day in January, Pi Day celebrates the famous mathematical constant on March 14, which represents 3.14. Both pizza and pie deals abound, and you can expect chains such as Bakers Square, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Boston Market and California Pizza Kitchen to take part.
Tax Day. While Tax Day on April 15 isn’t a food holiday, it might as well be, with restaurants and food delivery services offering free goodies to those feeling the squeeze from the IRS. Frequent participants the past couple years have included Bite Squad, Cicis, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Kona Ice. Specials often involve tax-related promo codes, and pricing items at $10.40 is also common.
National Pretzel Day. Declared an official holiday by a former governor of Pennsylvania, National Pretzel Day on April 26 celebrates the important role the snack has played in the state’s history. Local beer gardens often participate, as do national chains, such as Auntie Anne’s and Philly Pretzel Factory.
National Hamburger Day. The origins of this holiday on May 28 are unknown, but its timing often fits nicely with Memorial Day grilling. Restaurants celebrate by offering limited-time burgers, as well as discounts and freebies, and recent participants have included BurgerFi and White Castle.
National Doughnut Day. The holiday was created to honor the Salvation Army’s “Lassies,” who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I and is celebrated on the first Friday in June. These days, Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme and many local shops hand out free doughnuts to customers or launch special-edition doughnuts to mark the occasion.
National Ice Cream Day. This holiday is part of National Ice Cream Month, which exists, thanks to a presidential proclamation by former President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Various restaurants and ice cream makers, including Carvel, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream and Dippin’ Dots, celebrate the day on the third Sunday in July with free and discounted frozen treats.
National Root Beer Float Day. This Aug. 6 holiday celebrates the century-old dessert, which was created in a fit of inspiration by a tavern owner in the Rocky Mountains. A&W reliably participates by offering free floats, and fast food chain Wienerschnitzel has participated in past years as well.
National Cheeseburger Day. The holiday’s origins are unknown, but the cheeseburger has been around since the 1920s. This beloved menu item is celebrated every Sept. 18, when restaurants such as Ruby Tuesday, Miller’s Ale House and Red Robin offer discounted or even free cheeseburgers.
National Coffee Day. This Sept. 29 holiday has mysterious origins, but started gaining steam around 2009, with restaurants and coffee chains offering free caffeine. Notable participants in recent years include Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme and convenience store chain Cumberland Farms.
National Taco day. While the origins of Taco Day remain unknown, it started becoming popular around a decade ago. Today, various Tex-Mex and taco chains celebrate Oct. 4 by offering free tacos, buy one, get one specials and even special taco-themed gifts. Look for deals at On The Border, California Tortilla and Taco Bell.
National Fast Food Day. Fast Food Day on Nov. 16 celebrates everything you’re looking for an excuse to eat: burgers, fries, onion rings, shakes and more. Chains often make deals for this holiday available via their apps, so watch for specials from Jack in the Box, Wienerschnitzel, Burger King and more.
National Cookie Day. With the holiday season gearing up, bakeries and cookie-makers around the country honor this Christmastime staple with giveaways and deals on Dec. 4. Chains such as Insomnia Cookies, Great American Cookies and Mrs. Fields are common participants.
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15 National Food Holidays That Offer Free Meals and Treats originally appeared on usnews.com