National Margarita Day — one of the many made up food holidays that gets peddled by marketers and restaurants alike — is celebrated once a year, every Feb. 22.
The timing of the annual festivity feels a little off, no? Margaritas are best enjoyed under a hot sun, bared toes writing script in sand, a toxic-but-still-comforting taste of Coppertone.
There's a reason beach bars serve up the pre-made frozen slush from a machine on an eternal circuit and that the drink's rim is lined with salt to imitate the taste of the ocean.
So why is National Margarita Day celebrated in February?
The answer: for no real reason in particular.
Todd McCalla invented National Margarita Day "eight or nine years ago" (his estimation) on a whim. "I really like margaritas and kind of got frustrated with all the low quality mixes with high fructose corn syrup," he said over the phone. And so, he created NationalMargaritaDay.com and set Feb. 22 as the date of the party.
The inventor of National Margarita Day
If you're generally cynical about national food holidays, which are seemingly extensions of Hallmark-y days intended to get consumers to spend, you might find relief in the fact that National Margarita Day was created by some pleasant guy from Ohio who just really likes margaritas — no further agenda.
McCalla is a 39-year-old founder and partner of a commercial real estate firm based in Nashville. While that's his full-time gig, in the weeks leading up to his holiday, he works on hyping up the big day and "engaging with the community." He says the actual holiday is more fun than his birthday, even though he usually doesn't have the time to indulge in a margarita himself on Feb. 22, because he's so busy talking to those participating. If that wasn't selfless enough, McCalla is also the inventor of National Drink Wine Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 18 annually.
Over the years, McCalla has developed a more polished explanation as to why he made the margarita's holiday in February. He said the month is just a "sad, gray time of year for people and it'd be worth brightening it up with a margarita."
His website has also evolved, now functioning as a service, or a "semi-formal list of best places to find a margarita in the area," McCalla said. He even contracted a professional puppeteer — and wrote him a script — to serve as an educational video on the holiday's landing page.
Restaurants and bars will see a spike in margarita sales on the holiday, whether they're prepared or not, McCalla said, though more and more establishments "becoming observant" and using the opportunity to offer promotions. Amen.
McCall said while he's proud of his margarita work, because he's a quieter person, he plays his cards closer to his chest. Not everyone in his life knows about his part-time profession as tequila hero, but he said when they do find out, they rarely believe him at first.
Despite his virtual anonymity, the holiday has gained a massive following. The acclaim has reached such great heights, in fact, that in one recent year, when Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of the Today Show swapped their typical goblets of wine for margaritas to talk about the celebration, McCall's web server "completely melted" and required an entire overhaul.
Something fascinating: Despite organizations as respected as the Associated Press reporting on the holiday, McCalla said he never officially registered National Margarita Day anywhere.
There's no one right way to create a national food holiday. You could submit a pitch to National Day Calendar, which will send out a press release and send you an "official" certificate if your pitch is accepted. You could also reach out to your state government, chamber of commerce, etc. to "officially" commemorate the day.
But, as McCalla has so effortlessly proven, to successfully create a national food holiday, all you really have to do is make a website for a food or drink that people like and watch it soar. "It's just kind of grown organically," McCalla said of National Margarita Day. "It's kind of taken a life of it's own." Now if that's not inspiring...
To enjoy a margarita on this day as McCalla would if he had the time, keep it simple. "I abhor high fructose corn syrup and all the garbage chemicals that go into 90% of the commercial mixes sold," he said. His idea of the perfect margarita consists of tequila, agave nectar, some cointreau and lime, served on the rocks with a lightly salted rim.