Food

Don’t Buy Into The Food Industry’s Ridiculous ‘Holiday’ Scams

by Maxwell Williams

March 23, 2017

Did you know that, in 1925, the Mayo Brothers recommended something called the “18-Day Reducing Diet” to Ethel Barrymore? Or that the “18-Day Reducing Diet” included melba toast, which basically kick-started an early food trend?

We didn’t either.

But like any good media organization, we like to keep abreast of “Days.” Like last week, on March 14, it was National Pi Day, which could also be known as “National Food Media Makes A Pi/Pie Pun And Turns It Into A Slice Of Content Day.”

Media loves these kinds of stories. It’s easy content—what better reason to publish a story about "weird" bean facts than National Bean Day (January 6) or an article detailing the history of nachos (and where to get them on the cheap) than National Nachos Day (November 6)?

It’s an old editors trick to dial up one of those national day calendars, and fire off a story about whatever that particular day is. Maybe readers are actually more willing to read stories about rotisserie chicken on National Rotisserie Chicken Day. But its more likely they’re just hate-clicking, while grumbling, “Why? Why is there a National Rotisserie Chicken Day?”

Sometimes there’s more than one food celebrated on a single day. Take August 8: National Frozen Custard Day and National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (I swear to god). Which is more important? Is it eating frozen custard, which is an obviously less ridiculous activity, and one which I’m more likely to do? Am I supposed to eat frozen custard while sneaking zucchini onto my neighbor’s porch? What if my neighbor doesn’t have a porch? What if I have two neighbors with porches? What if my neighbors are on their respective porches? How sneaky do I have to get? Can I just hand them each a goddamn zucchini?

Sometimes there’s two or more days for one food. National Pancake Day is March 7. September 26 is also supposedly National Pancake Day. January 28 is National Blueberry Pancake Day. Then there’s Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, during which people apparently gorge themselves on pancakes, and so it’s also called Pancake Day. Get it together, Keepers of the Days.

I’m sick to my stomach about the fact that I just had to think about this.

Most of these “Days” are of unknown origin (though you can apparently thank Pennsylvanian Tom Roy for that zucchini-themed one). There are usually no records of why they became Days. They’re not officially recognized by any government, nor are there any known proclamations as to their “Day-ness.”

National Melba Toast Day is the last straw though.

I refuse to write about the origins of melba toast. I hardly even know what it is. My best guess is that melba toast is a crouton in the shape of bread. I refuse to fully fact-check the Ethel Barrymore lore, though a cursory search shows its presence on several of these national day calendars, and not really anywhere else. It’s possibly a self-perpetuating myth, existing only in some weird universe of national day calendars, kept in the National Day Calendar Vault (NDCV) and guarded by the Secret National Day Calendar Police Department (SNDCPD).

(Note: These national day calendars are pretty much shams. You can submit a national day, and some unknown entity decides whether or not it gets on the website. It’s kind of like a who’s who for Days. But I digress parenthetically.)

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t say, “Happy National Melba Toast Day” to my girlfriend, nor did I present her with a wrapped box of melba toast, a pretty, toast-colored bow tied around it. I didn’t get National Melba Toast Day off. The mail came today. The government continued to suck. I didn’t even eat a single piece of melba toast in honor of this sad, pathetic excuse for a holiday.

I’m not going to die on this hill. If you want to celebrate National Melba Toast, by all means, get to it. Just don’t stick a candle on a piece of melba toast and expect me to blow it out.

Wake me when it’s National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day. Dammit, that’s tomorrow. Fine, wake me when it’s National Lobster Newburg Day. Just don’t wake me on National Melba Toast Day. I won’t do it. You can’t make me write about National Melba Toast Day.

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