Eat for free year-round on these food holidays
Holidays used to have to be declared by governments in order to be observed. However, tons of “food holidays” have popped up over the years unofficially with restaurants and retailers observing them with deals and freebies. Great news for people that like to save!
Some deals require you just showing up to claim freebies, like getting free bagels from Einstein Bros. Bagels on National Bagel Day. For others, there’s a catch, like singing onstage at Hard Rock Café to claim a free legendary burger on Tax Day. Scroll through our calendar of free food to see if your favorite restaurant is observing…
National Popcorn Day — January 19
Popcorn has delighted snackers with its salty crunch for more than 5,000 years. It’s unclear when exactly popcorn was invented, but archaeologists have unearthed remnants of popcorn in Mexico that date back to roughly 3600 BC. Nowadays, it is served in movie theaters, parties or when people need a high fiber snack.
Movie theaters often observe National Popcorn Day all year round with special offers and promotions. For example, AMC will do them for opening night fan events, Cinemark does weekly concession coupons and Paragon will provide a free popcorn coupon when signing up for their Diamond Rewards Loyalty program.
National Bagel Day — February 9
Bagel kings Einstein Bros. Bagels go all out for National Bagel Day. For the first deal, Einstein Shmear Society members can claim a free bagel with cream cheese from February 9 through 13. Sign into your Shmear Society account to claim the delectable offer or check your email inbox for a Shmear notification.
Claim the coupon on the “bagel hero page” on Einstein’s website, and get 13 bagels for only $10. Social media users can enter to win free bagels for a year by posting a photo of themselves with a bagel and the hashtag #BagelHeroContest. Bagels are filling (they’re equal to 3.5 slices of bread), but those with big stomachs will be more satisfied with National Pizza Day.
National Pizza Day — February 9
Who doesn’t love pizza? This dish of Italian origins is one of the most popular foods in the world and a common fast food item in Western countries. Deals on National Pizza Day vary but you can always count on the big pizza establishments to observe this made up — but wonderful — holiday.
At least in 2018, Domino’s Pizza is offering two or more items from a select menu at $5.99, a medium two-topping pizza for $8.99 or three-topping ‘za when ordering carryout for $7.99. Godfather’s Pizza does a buy one get one medium, one-topping pizza for $3.99. The deals continue into next month with Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day — February 14
A variety of deals on food are available on this day of love, especially ones for couples or people that can eat two meals. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is doing a BOGO on beverages, so does Shake Shack with milkshakes and Qdoba does a BOGO if you kiss someone while ordering (with their permission of course!)
There’s some for the single people as well! If you really want to chow down — or eat your feelings — get 10 extra chicken wings at Hooters if you bring in a photo of your ex. You can take an online quiz too if you’ve already burned all of their photos. If it’s a Leap Year, you’re in luck for more savings.
Leap Day — February 29
Now take heed: These deals only come once every four years! February 29 is added to Leap Years as a corrective measure to be in synch with the astronomical or seasonal year. This is especially fun for those with the elusive February 29 birthday… Hard Rock Café honors birthday boys and girls with a free entrée.
Houlihan’s also doles out free entrées to folks with birthdays on Leap Day AND 28 additional entrées over the next 30 days. For those without this unfortunate birthday day, Krispy Kreme will give customers an additional dozen donuts for $2.29 with a regular dozen purchase. If you love math and pie, you’ll love this next holiday.
International Pi Day — March 14
March 14 is observed as Pi Day, pi being the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, aka 3.14. (March = third month of the year, 14 being the day… Get it?!) Restaurants will be celebrating with deals on slices of pie — both the dessert and pizza pie!
Waffle House and Village Inn will be giving customers free slices of pie for dessert. Also, deals on pizza are abundant at joints like Domino’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s. In 2018, Blaze Pizza is charging customers only $3.14 for a build your own pizza. Enjoy more fresh deals a couple days later on the First Day of Spring.
First Day of Spring — March 20
Rita’s Italian ices are refreshing and sweet, perfect for a breezy spring day. Rita’s gives them out for free every year on the First Day of Spring. Ice cream shop Dairy Queen has a deal of their own: Customers get a free cone with a donation towards Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Dairy Queen said it’s raised $300,000 from funds donated one year on the First Day of Spring and on Free Cone Day. Other sweet deals include free ice cream from YoFactor and Bird-in-Hand Bakery and Café. Tax Day is next, with some discounts to relieve your stress from Hard Rock Café and more!
Tax Day — April 15
It’s the grumpiest day of the year — Tax Day. Maybe you’re not getting the return you hoped for, or you still have to pay your accountant or maybe you owe the government a ton of money. Hard Rock Café invites grumpy tax payers to sing their favorite song onstage for a free legendary burger.
Yes, you have to work it to get this deal but maybe singing will relieve your sorrows! More deals: Kona Ice is giving out free treats, Great American Cookies will provide free cookies, and California Tortilla will give you some free chips n’ queso with any order. Lovers of salty snacks will enjoy this next food holiday.
National Pretzel Day — April 26
Ah the pretzel, one of the oldest snacks still in existence today. Originally it was created in Europe, possibly in the Early Middle Ages. The savory food is usually topped with salt but cheese, jalapenos, sugar, and more also make an appearance. There are so many free pretzels to choose from on National Pretzel Day including Auntie Anne’s, Pretzelmaker, and Wetzel’s Pretzels.
You can’t go wrong with any that you choose. Auntie Annie’s is doing a BOGO deal that goes through April 29 for members of My Pretzel Perks rewards program. Pretzelmaker requires less work — just show proof you follow the chain on social media for your free twisted snack. Wetzel’s simply gives you a pretzel, no strings attached.
Superhero Day — April 28
Marvel Comics created this holiday to inspire people to be heroes in their community through volunteering. Recognize the everyday heroes in your life — what better way than to present them with a gift of glazed goodies? The donut slangers at Krispy Kreme give out an extra dozen donuts with the purchase of one dozen.
Recognize the heroes at your office or home with these sweet treats! With most good things in life, there’s a catch: You’ve got to get only the Original Glazed donuts at participating U.S. locations for the deal to work — sorry Connecticut and Puerto Rico. Not a sweets person? Next month’s deal might be more up your alley.
National Hamburger Day — May 28
This is the holiday that the U.S. needs since Americans eat nearly 50 billion burgers annually according to PBS. Some participating eateries are the biggest in the burger biz. For example, Burger King has the King’s Meal Deal available for a mere $3.79 and Fatburger waives Postmates delivery fees from May 22-28.
Not a fan of the King or Fatburger? There are more options: Jack in the Box is taking $1 off its ultimate cheeseburger through June 3 and Sonic is doing its Charhop Classic for only $2.99. There were donuts for Superhero Day, but the ultimate donut holiday comes up in June.
National Donut Day — June 3
Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts, Entenmann’s, and other donut giants pull out all the stops on this day of glazed sweet observance. Some have restrictions or catches but c’mon — free donuts! It’s totally worth it! Entenmann’s deal goes on just from 7 am to 1 pm, with a special freebie in NYC’s Madison Square Park.
Tim Horton’s does a free donut deal when you make any other purchase. At Dunkin’ Donuts, buy a beverage to get a free donut of your choosing. And, of course, Krispy Kreme has a deal — just pick any donut you’d like, no purchase necessary. Starbucks drinkers will love June 10’s holiday, we tell all below.
National Iced Tea Day — June 10
Starbucks has about 15 iced tea flavors, each is perfect as the weather starts to warm up in June. Try a flavor you’ve never had before on their June 10 BOGO deal: Purchase a Teavana tea and you’ll get a second one for free! It’s got to be one of two flavors though.
If you like mango the black tea lemonade or peach green tea from Starbucks, you’ll be very happy with their iced tea BOGO. Wendy’s is giving out free iced teas, no purchase necessary! Pick from a fruitea chiller in either blueberry pineapple or orange mango. Slushies might be more up your alley if tea is too bitter — 7-Eleven Day has some deals for that!
7-Eleven Day — July 11
July 11 is obviously the only day you could observe the 24/7 convenience store (July = seventh month of the year, 11 is the day. DUH!) Consumers also fondly call this day ‘Free Slurpee Day’ because you’re entitled to a free small Slurpee — no strings attached! You must stop by between 11 am and 7 pm, however.
The fun doesn’t end on the 11th. On July 12, 7-Eleven will grace you with a Big Gulp, on the 13th you get some M&M’s, get Grandma’s Cookies on July 14, Twinkies on the 15th, and so on until July 19. If you’re sick of 7-Eleven free goodies, take a break for National Ice Cream Day. How to hack it is next…
National Ice Cream Day — Third Sunday in July
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream freebies! Held on the third “sundae” (he, he, he…) of July, ice cream shops will have deals you can’t resist. This is actually a holiday proclaimed by a government entity — President Ronald Reagan created National Ice Cream Day in 1984.
His proclamation noted the ice cream industry generated $3.5 billion in sales. Ice cream is very trendy now, but it’s always been a popular icy treat in the U.S. Some participating companies include Dairy Queen, Halo Top, and Dippin’ Dots. Even PetSmart is getting in on the action with free ice cream for pups! Speaking of dogs…
National Hot Dog Day — Third Wednesday of July
Get some dogs free of charge or at a heavily discounted price with some BOGO deals from convenience stores and fast food chains. Some nationwide restaurants are honoring the wiener in a bun like Sonic, 7-Eleven, Callahan’s, and Pilot Flying J. Sonic and 7-Eleven are both doing $1 dog deals — perfect for that dollar burning a hole in your pocket.
Pilot Flying J is doing one better: They’re straight up giving out free Oscar Meyer dogs at participating outlets. Callahan’s is also doing a free deal. On this day of hot dog observance, they’ll give away free quarter-pound dogs from 11 am to 9 pm. Meatarians will have more to celebrate on July 29. We spill the deets next.
National Chicken Wing Day — July 29
No matter how you do your chicken — with ranch, BBQ sauce, teriyaki — there’s a deal for each and every wing lover. Count on Hooters, Wingstop, and Native Grill and Wings to come up with the best and tastiest deals. Hooters’ motto for the special day is let “FREEdom Wing!”
In the past, they’ve offered a deal similar to their Valentine’s special: Get 10 free boneless wings with the purchase of 10 wings. Wingstop will offer five bonus wings with any purchase. Native Grill and Wings is taking their prices back to 1979 and offering 10 cent wings (that’s how much they were when the chain first opened.)
National Avocado Day — August 1
Besides being an excuse for Baby Boomers to make Millennial jokes, National Avocado Day is a moment to celebrate the buttery produce on a chip, tortilla, or even toast. Chipotle does a huge guacamole giveaway on this tasty day. Your wallet will be able to take a break from that avocado add-on because it’s free, baby!
Just for today though…also, you’ll need to download the Chipotle app and enter a code. So it’s a whole thing but the free guac is totally worth it. Other smaller restaurants will have deals, perhaps check your local Mexican eatery or maker of avocado toasts! This next food holiday is another sweet one.
National Ice Cream Sandwich Day — August 2
Start August off right with a cool ice cream sandwich. Ice cream sandwich headquarters CREAM observes this sweet day with some old-timey — and cheap — prices. If you’re in California, Nevada, Colorado, or Florida, visit a participating location to get a one-cent mini ice cream sandwich. What a delicious history lesson!
This was what ice cream sandwiches used to cost back in the day when they were sold from a cart. Baked Bear also has a deal but not as good as CREAM: on this special day of ice cream sandwiches, you can get a free topping. Not just sprinkles either! The next food holiday is also a real sweet day.
National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day — August 4
Any Quizno’s fans out there? Join their Toasty Points program for occasional deals. On National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, the sandwich shop will give you a free small cookie with any purchase. It sucks that it’s a small cookie but at least it’s a free cookie, right?
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse is doing a sweet deal in some locations. If you order $9.95 worth of food, you’ll get a free pizookie! Other locations are doing $3 for an ice cream and a big cookie (usually, it’s $6.95.) Nestlé Tollhouse Café is doing an offer where you can get five cookies for $5.15.
National Root Beer Float Day — August 6
A free root beer float can be yours if you visit A&W on National Root Beer Float Day. However, in order to claim the deal, you must show up at 2 pm onward at one of its 630 locations. Nobody wants a root beer float for breakfast anyway, right?
Funds from your purchase are likely to go to a good cause. In 2018, A&W was collecting donations for Disabled American Veterans. Wienerschnitzel’s is also doing a free drink deal. You can download a coupon from its website and present it to the cashier at one of its 333 restaurants. A CHEESY day is next…
National Cheeseburger Day — September 18
This day celebrates not just any hamburger, but one covered in cheese. Don’t mix this day up with National Hamburger Day! Die-hard fans will tell you it’s just not the same. Burger spots like Jack in the Box, McDonald’s and Burger Theory will have tasty cheeseburgers at tasty prices.
See Burger King’s app or website for the down low on special deals. McDonald’s also has deals available via its app daily, like a $1 McDouble, for example. If you’re staying at a Holiday Inn, they’re likely to have a Burger Theory restaurant where they’re giving away FREE cheeseburgers, no purchase required. Will Krispy Kreme come through again with this next holiday?
Talk Like a Pirate Day — September 19
Krispy Kreme is always on it with its observance of made-up food holidays. However, it did cancel its Talk Like a Pirate Day celebration in 2018. They used to give away free donuts to anyone that came in and talked and dressed like a pirate. They did cancel the celebration the previous year as well.
According to IBT, the coffee and donut chain didn’t respond in time to their inquiries as to why the holiday celebration was canceled yet again. They did offer rewards program members a freebie that week — a pumpkin spice cake donut! Need some coffee with that donut? This next holiday will solve that.
National Coffee Day — September 29
The U.S. runs on coffee. Unlike other countries, it thrives on the coffee-to-go culture; there are even coffee drive-thrus for those most desperate to get a fix. All you coffee addicts out there can get a free buzz from chains like Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Waffle House on this day.
Dunkin’ Donuts is doing a BOGO on coffees so you can treat a friend to a free hot beverage! Krispy Kreme might be skipping out on Talk Like a Pirate Day but it will do free cups of coffee for customers. Participating Waffle House are doing free covfefes with a coupon. You know what doesn’t go well with coffee? Tacos. More on that next.
National Taco Day — October 4
Tacos are celebrated every week in some fashion at restaurants on Taco Tuesdays. However, there’s a National day of celebration honored at major taco outlets across the country. According to L.A. Taco, the holiday was originally created by Roberto L. Gomez, a former city council candidate in San Antonio, Texas.
Gomez created the National Taco Council, a way to remind politicians that Mexicans have voting power as well. For PR stunts, he’d send oversized tamales, tacos, enchiladas, and more to politicians as gifts. In 1974, Texas expanded the celebration to National Taco Month. The same day is inexplicably National Vodka Day. We’ll explain below.
National Vodka Day — October 4
Like most made-up holidays, this one was created for marketing purposes. Nir Knaan created the holiday, and it’s been celebrated since 2009. A corresponding event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been organized — it’s an annual toast celebrating the Russian liquor. You can find some vodka deals at certain restaurants.
Houlihan’s is doing a special: Its super spiked lemonade is a mere $5 during happy hour from 3-7pm. Sounds like a delicious drink made from Absolut Citron, Mandarin, and Vanilla vodkas. You know what’s a great hangover cure? Breakfast sandwiches! You can get some for free on this next, wonderful holiday.
World Egg Day — October 11
To observe the holiday of the wonderfully delicious protein-packed food, some breakfast providers are providing discounts! Bruegger’s Bagel is doing $2 off all of its breakfast sandwiches. If you can get a special coupon, White Castle will give you a free breakfast slider with purchase. Scroll down to read about the history of this holiday.
The International Egg Commission (IEC) formed in 1964 to give representation to egg farmers. It created World Egg Day at a 1996 conference in Vienna to raise awareness around the world about the yummy orb. Not a morning person? You’re probably a dessert person then… The ultimate day for you is next.
Dessert Day — October 14
You’ll definitely satisfy your sweet tooth on this terrific day of celebration. Many local restaurants will have their own special deals for desserts, so make sure you check out your local paper for more information. Of course, there’s a PR firm behind this made-up, obscure holiday — National Today.
National Today researches the internet for obscure holidays then sends press releases to journalists and bloggers who promote it. It’s totally money-driven, but at least we can score sweet deals. For example, ice cream sandwich makers CREAM will be doing $3 ice cream sandwiches. More sweetness is coming up with National Cookie Day. See more below.
National Cookie Day — December 4
Not to be confused with National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, which celebrates a particular kind of cookie. National Cookie Day was created by Matt Nader of Blue Chip Cookie Company in 1987. Possibly a PR stunt? Most likely. Besides the obvious money grabbing, you can stuff yourself with cookies which is awesome.
Cinnabon might have deals for this special day. In 2017, they did an offer with its Cookie BonBite product. With a purchase of a Cookie BonBite, you can get an 8-ounce bottle of Fairlife ultra-filtered milk. You can’t escape the deals on the last day of the year either! For more information on what you can get, see below.
New Year’s Eve — December 31
Some places will do free coffee for drivers on the road if they’re planning on driving late tonight. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can get a free large soft drink at participating Chick-fil-a restaurants. A soda has enough sugar and caffeine to keep you awake all night. To score this freebie, register on Chick-fil-a’s website for a calendar card.
The calendar card from Chick-fil-a also allows you to access exclusive offers all year long! This might be worth the investment if you can’t get enough chicken sandwiches. The next day, you can get a free slice of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory with a purchase of a $25 gift card. Nothing like a hearty meal to cure any hangovers!