14 National Food Holidays That Offer Free Meals and Treats

Over the years, various restaurants, companies, public figures and trade groups have founded food holidays, including National Doughnut Day, National Coffee Day, National Taco Day and National Cheeseburger Day. On these days, restaurants, food delivery services and retailers offer free food, promo codes and coupons to capture consumers’ attention.

These freebies have continued, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. While many restaurants’ dining rooms are closed to diners, the national food day traditions thrive in the form of to-go and delivery deals.

Consider celebrating these food holidays:

— National Pie Day.

— National Pizza Day.

— National Margarita Day.

— Pi Day.

— National Pretzel Day.

— National Hamburger Day.

— National Doughnut Day.

— National Ice Cream Day.

— National Root Beer Float Day.

— National Cheeseburger Day.

— National Coffee Day

— National Taco Day.

— National Fast Food Day.

— National Cookie Day.

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.

[See: How to Save Money When Grocery Shopping on a Budget.]


National Pie Day

Date: Jan 23.

January is a slow month for food holidays. But New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier are threatened Jan. 23 on National Pie Day. There’s usually a smattering of pie deals each year, from restaurants such as Bakers Square, Shari’s and Marie Callender’s, which offer discounted or even free slices of pie with purchase.


National Pizza Day

Date: Feb. 9.

This holiday is celebrated on Feb. 9 each year. Restaurants that have taken part in the most recent National Pizza Day included Blaze Pizza, Cicis Pizza, Papa John’s and Postmates, which offered promo codes, buy one, get one deals and special menu items.

National Margarita Day

Date: Feb. 22.

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, Margaritaville restaurants and Cyclone Anaya’s. In addition to freebies, look for limited-time special menu items. It’s unclear what 2021 holds for a holiday that usually relies on customers visiting bars. However, plenty of restaurants have evolved during the pandemic to offer to-go alcohol specials in municipalities that allow them.


Pi Day

Date: March 14.

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 Boston Market and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse to take part. During the most recent Pi Day, delivery services, including Grubhub and DoorDash, partnered with restaurants to offer special promo codes and discounts.


National Pretzel Day

Date: April 26.

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.

[Read: Best Deals to Snag on Tax Day 2020]


National Hamburger Day

Date: May 28

The timing of this holiday usually 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. During the pandemic in 2020, we saw restaurants offering delivery-specific specials.


National Doughnut Day

Date: First Friday in June.

The holiday was created to honor the Salvation Army’s “Lassies,” who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. These days, Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme and many local shops hand out free doughnuts to customers or launch special-edition doughnuts to mark the occasion. Food delivery services are also getting in on the act, offering freebies when customers order delivery from doughnut chains.


National Ice Cream Day

Date: Third Sunday in July.

This holiday is part of National Ice Cream Month, which exists, thanks to a proclamation by former President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Various restaurants, convenience stores and ice cream makers (on their own and in conjunction with food delivery companies) celebrate National Ice Cream Day on the third Sunday in July with free and discounted frozen treats. The usual participants include Baskin-Robbins, Dippin’ Dots, Cumberland Farms and Marble Slab Creamery. Expect a lot of local chains and ice cream shops to participate as well.


National Root Beer Float Day

Date: Aug. 6.

This August 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

Date: Sept. 18.

National Cheeseburger Day’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 Jack in the Box, Wendy’s and Carl’s Jr. offer discounted or even free cheeseburgers. In recent years, we’ve seen Instacart offer discounts on cheese and food delivery companies partner with various burger chains to offer special discounts to their users.

National Coffee Day

Date: Sept. 29.

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’, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Caribou Coffee, as well as coffee subscription services such as Atlas Coffee Company.


National Taco Day

Date: Oct. 4

While the origins of National 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, Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, Rubio’s, Jack in the Box and more.

[Read: Best Black Friday Sales for 2019]


National Fast Food Day

Date: Nov. 16.

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. In 2020, expect more deals geared at contact-free options, including in-app ordering and delivery.


National Cookie Day

Date: Dec. 4.

With the holiday season gearing up, bakeries and cookie-makers around the country honor this Christmastime staple with giveaways and deals on Dec. 4. Because National Cookie Day is in the middle of the holiday season, look out for cookie promo codes on gift basket sites such as Cheryl’s Cookies and Mrs. Fields. Chains like Insomnia Cookies and Great American Cookies also often participate.

Companies and products mentioned in this article may be promoted on www.offers.com.

More from U.S. News

8 Big Budgeting Blunders — and How to Fix Them

9 Secrets to Save Money on a Shoestring Budget

12 Shopping Tricks to Keep You Under Budget

14 National Food Holidays That Offer Free Meals and Treats originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 07/27/20: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up