America's five best food holidays -- and three we need to start

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America is awesome.

Not because of all the freedom. Not because we were the country that invented the atom bomb, democracy, Pong, lasers and the Colt revolver. Not even because we rule the world when it comes to the depth and weirdness of our 4 a.m. children's television programming (yeah, suck it, Japan).

America is awesome because we have taken every single day on the calendar and given it over to the worship and greater glory of one highly specific food product. And when I say "every single day," I really mean every single day.

Sure, everyone knows about Shrove Tuesday (National Pancake Day), National Snack Food Month (February) and Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day (April 12 -- what, you don't celebrate?). But did you also know that there's a National Seafood Bisque Day? Well, there is. It's October 19. There's also a National Sardines Day (November 24), a Fettucine Alfredo Day (February 7) and a National Meat Week (which just happens to be the fourth week in January and is celebrated with gusto 'round the Sheehan compound).

I recently pawed my way through all the food-related holidays (more than 400 of them in this country, with some days hosting multiple holidays -- like March 25, which is both National Pecan Day and National Waffle Day but is not, oddly, National Pecan Waffle Day) and picked my five favorites. While you'd think that 400-some holidays ought to be enough for anyone, really, for a guy like me, too much is never quite enough. And so I've also created three additional food holidays that should be made official immediately -- by Presidential decree or however these things are worked out in the corridors of power.

So here we go. The five greatest food holidays on the calendar, in order:

1. Potato Lovers Month (February)

Hey, wait a minute ... I love potatoes. I love potatoes more than just about any other food on the planet. And conveniently enough, during National Potato Lover's Month, all self-professed potato lovers get Ferraris, cash prizes and kisses from pretty girls.

Oh, and potatoes, of course. Lots and lots of potatoes.

2. Something on a Stick Day (March 28) You know what I passed up in March in order to anoint Something on a Stick Day as one of the five best food holidays? I gave up Maple Syrup Saturday (third Saturday in March), Corned Beef and Cabbage Day (March 17, natch), Caffeine Awareness Month, National Ravioli Day (March 20), National Potato Chip Day (March 14) and Turkey Neck Soup Day (March 30).

I chose Something on a Stick Day because, let's face it, everything is better when it's on a stick. Corned beef and cabbage on a stick? Awesome. Ravioli on a stick? Delicious. And even though potato chips on a stick probably wouldn't work too well, I would totally eat maple syrup off a stick if, for some reason, there were no pancakes readily available.

3. Barbecue Month (May), National Barbecue Day (Memorial Day)Which is quite convenient, considering my birthday is May 30, usually part of Memorial Day weekend. Therefore, every year, the entire nation celebrates my birthday by eating racks of ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. I mean, they're celebrating Memorial Day, too. But in my mind, it's all about me.

Well, me and barbecue.

4. Grab Some Nuts Day (August 3)

I don't think I need to say another word here. 5. The entire month of October

October is Pork Month. It is also Vegetarian Awareness Month, which is awesome. October has Chili Week (the first week of the month) and National Taco Day (October 4) and Potato Day (October 27) which, near as I can tell, is just one of about twenty Potato Days, Weeks and Months scattered throughout the calendar -- as is only appropriate for such an excellent tuber.

As with all other months, every single day of October is a day for something. It just seems that October's days are better than most. There's Beer Week and Dessert Day, the official start to Pudding Season and World Egg Day. Plus, October immediately precedes November, which (at least as far as food holidays goes) is pretty sucky -- having to its credit only Donut Appreciation Day on November 5.

Okay, those are the five best existing food holidays. Now for the three that should exist but don't. And, of course, if you have suggestions for additional days (or any sort of information as to how one might create an official holiday for, say, corned beef hash or freaky Japanese candies), please feel free to post it below.

1. Corned Beef Hash DayWhy? Because corned beef hash is the second-greatest breakfast food of all time (behind pancakes) and, when done well (which means with fresh corned beef, a buffalo chopper and perfect brunoise potatoes), is a true work of art. So why doesn't it have a day of its own? 2. Streetcorner Hot Dog Cart Appreciation WeekBiker Jim Pittenger of Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs will be our official Wiener King to celebrate when this day becomes official. 3. International Chef's Day All kitchen crews, all dishwashers, all busboys and grillardins and poissonardes and line dogs and grillmen and station chefs and everyone else attached to the back of the house gets the day off. All bartenders, cocktail waitresses, strippers, drug dealers and associated tradespeople must still report to work. For obvious reasons, of course.

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