Baker’s Hours

May 19, 2009

National Food Days

chocolate-cakeThere are a few people in my Twitter stream who like to post, “Today is National Such-N-Such Food Day”. Although I don’t find these posts particularly annoying, it does beg the question, “Who the hell designated all these National Food Days?”

Finding a list of these National Food Days is not very difficult. I put in a search for National Food Days, and found a multitude of internet sites listing the various food holidays. For instance, according to www.statesymbolsusa.org today (the day that I am posting this blog entry) is National Devil’s Food Cake Day. Now, what I want to know is who was it that decided that today, May 19th, should be National Devil’s Food Cake Day? I enjoy a good piece of chocolate cake as much as the next person, but what is it that is so special about Devil’s Food Cake that makes it worthy of having a National Day of Recognition? Furthermore, what is so special about Devil’s Food Cake that makes it more deserving of recognition today than say Kim Chee Fried Rice? And, if that is not enough idiocrity for you (Yes idiocrity is a word! At least according to Urban Dictionary), while looking up that today is National Devil’s Food Cake Day, I discovered that May is also:

  • National Barbecue Month
  • National Chocolate Custard Month
  • National Egg Month
  • National Hamburger Month
  • National Salad Month
  • National Salsa Month
  • National Strawberry Month

National Strawberry Month seems particularly strange to me considering that strawberries generally don’t come into season until June. I don’t think that they are referring to the time of year when they start planting because then it would be called National Strawberry “Planting” Month. However, we are in a world economy after all, and produce is shipped into the United States from all over the world, so you can pretty much get anything anytime of the year regardless of the growing season, but I digress.

How Did All This Get Started?

A few National Food Days websites seem to think that this practice dates back to the French Revolution during which a group of scholars attempted to develop a calendar different from it’s Christian based Gregorian counterpart. The French Republican or French Revolutionary Calendar as it became known, was designed around the Metric system. The year was still twelve months long, but months were divided into three ten day weeks, and each day of the year was named to reflect something from nature or agriculture that was relevant to that time of year. Philippe François Nazaire Fabre d’Eglantine, a member of the group of scholars drafted to create the Revolutionary Calendar felt that the day names should reflect one of three things, “…the type of season; the temperature; and the state of vegetation.”

days-english

How are National Anything Days Made?

You’d be surprised how difficult this information is to find without the correct key words to enter into the search engine, but then I had a “Friggin Duh!” moment (or as Bousin Smee would say, “An Apostrophe”) when I realized that all I needed to know was in my old high school civics book.

There are two ways in which “Official” National Days of Recognition can be created. The first means requires an act of Congress. Like any law, a resolution declaring a National Anything Day must be submitted and pass through both Houses of Congress, and then signed into law by the President. Although this is a long and drawn out process, it is possible for anyone to write their Congressional representative, and request that a resolution for a National Day of Recognition be submitted to Congress. This however hinges on whether or not there is enough public support behind your proposal to motivate your Congressman to do so.

The other (and slightly easier) way in which a National Anything Day can be created is through a Presidential Proclamation. Of course, that would require, as Josh from the West Wing so eloquently put it, “Probably advisory boards, commissions, the NATO commander’s involved, possibly.” It would most likely be helpful if you had someone who knew the President as well. Hey, I said it was easier, not easy. Anywho, according to the American Presidency Project, “…proclamations are used ceremonially by presidents to honor a group or situation or to call attention to certain issues or events.” Many National Observances came to us as a result of Presidential Proclamations, however, they are not considered to be Federal Holidays. An act of Congress is required for recognition of a Federal Holiday.

So, what act of Congress or Presidential Proclamation created National Devil’s Food Cake Day? As far as I can tell (and I’ve spent two days researching this blog entry) there isn’t one. As a matter of fact, none of the National Food Days, Weeks, or Months that I have researched have any link to the the United States government, hence they are NOT “Official” National Days of Recognition. Well… maybe National Jelly Bean Day (April 22nd). I wouldn’t put it past President Reagan to declare a National Jelly Bean Day. He did love himself some jelly beans. Long story short, National Food Days are the culinary equivalent of Hallmark Holidays.

So, Who Created All These National Food Days?

Like Hallmark Holidays, National Food Days are most likely an attempt by companies, and advertising firms to associate a day of the year with their product. With this in mind, its not much of a stretch to assume that some public relations agency employed by Duncan Hines had the bright idea to arbitrarily declare May 19th as National Devil’s Food Cake Day. Well, maybe not arbitrarily. They had to have at least checked to make sure that National Devil’s Food Cake Day didn’t conflict National Angel’s Food Cake Day, which is October 10th in case you were wondering. I admit though, that I really have no idea what group or company could be responsible for tomorrow (May 20th) being named National Quiche Lorraine Day.

Pretty much anyone could declare any day as a National Anything Day. If enough people (or money) get behind it, then it could easily work its way onto the list of pseudo National Observances just like National Frog Jumping Jubilee Day (May 19th), National Take Your Pants For A Walk Day (July 27st), or my personal favorite National Be Bald and Free Day (October 14th). Oh and just out of curiosity, I checked and discovered that my birthday (February 10th) is National Umbrulla Day, and National Cream Cheese Brownie Day. Now I’m off to begin planning my institution of National Kim Chee Fried Rice Day.

Song stuck in my head at the time of this post: Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel

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