ENJOY FREE EATS, ALL YEAR ROUND
Keep an eye out for National Pie Day specials in mid-January; in the past, Long John Silver's and Burger King have offered a free slice, and pie specialists Marie Callender's and the Village Inn have served up coupons for the day.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurants celebrate National Margarita Day in February with specials onmargaritas and related products.
IHOP restaurants traditionally go all out for National Pancake Day (March 5 in 2019), giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes in exchange for an optional donation to charity. Other pancake-serving chains have also been known to get in on the action.
Look for pretzel deals for all of National Soft Pretzel Month in April but especially for National Pretzel Day, which usually happens toward the end of April. Several chains typically celebrate; Snyder's of Hanover has done giveaways and Auntie Anne's pretzel shops have offered free-pretzel coupons and the chance to win free pretzels for a year.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
National Doughnut Day usually falls on the first Friday in June (this year it's June 7) or in early November, according to some calendars, but June is when Krispy Kreme typically gives away free doughnuts to customers, no purchase required, and Dunkin' Donuts often serves up a freebie for customers who buy a drink. Tim Hortons has gone the coupon route, offering a half-dozen for $3, while other times offering up freebies or other special offers like last year's promotion of 24k gold-dusted doughnut holes and free donuts for the year offered to the first customers at select locations.
LOBSTER AND SEAFOOD
National Hot Dog Month kicks off with a bang at the annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4, and National Hot Dog Day the third week of July (this year on July 17) has seen free or discounted hot dogs from 7-Eleven, Sonic, and QuikTrip.
July heat means there's no better time for National Ice Cream Month and a bunch of tag-along days, including National Ice Cream Day, on the third Sunday (July 21 this year). Baskin-Robbins, Graeter's, Cold Stone Creamery, Marble Slab Creamery, Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery, Burger King, McDonald's and more have all had deals for the month.
December 16 is National Cupcake Day, so celebrate at Sprinkles, Black Angus Steakhouse, and South Caroline's Cupcake DownSouth, which all offer free cupcakes when you sign up with their rewards programs. Cookie lovers can also get their fix this month as National Cookie Day is December 4 — not to be confused with May's chocolate chip cookie celebrations — and more than a few retailers are likely to be happy to hand out cookies to help you celebrate. Last year Mrs. Fields handed out free chocolate chip cookies to the first 400 customers at every store, Toll House Cafe offered a free full-size cookie to every visitor, and Insomnia Cafe offered a free cookie with purchase.