Deborah Cassell
Executive Editor


In case you missed it, yesterday was National Rocky Road Day. Your day planner might have omitted this particular celebration, its pages being committed to mainstream holidays such as Father’s Day, the Fourth of July and, yes, Flag Day (Betsy Ross would be so proud). However, my calendar has been marked for months in anticipation of this date!

Just kidding. National Rocky Road Day actually was made known to me by a press release from www.chocolate.com (“Fine Chocolates For Fine Occasions”), which explained how “Rocky Road was conceived during the Great Depression, when William Dreyer cut up walnuts and marshmallows with his wife’s sewing scissors and added them to a bowl of chocolate ice cream. The name Rocky Road was coined to give folks a lift during those hard economic times.”

Hmmm … hard economic times … Most Americans could probably use a dose of Rocky Road right about now. Good thing Dreyer’s is one of many ice cream brands to sell the variety.

Rocky Road has become a flavor that goes beyond mere ice cream, as well. Confections combining nuts (usually almonds, as Chocolate.com notes, adding that “in Australia they add jam, and in the United Kingdom they add cherries and raisins”), marshmallows and chocolate are classic offerings. For example, as the release points out, there’s Rocky Road Fudge from BODEGA Chocolates (http://www.chocolate.com/products/rrocky-road-fudge-6oz/), Sterling Confections’ Rocky Road Truffle Bar (http://www.chocolate.com/products/rocky-road/) and Expressway Aka Rocky Road, a chocolate bark by Chokola’j (http://www.chocolate.com/products/expressway-aka-rocky-road/).

But Rocky Road is just one confection worth honoring over the course of the next few weeks, as June is National Candy Month (so was January, but who’s counting?). This is not to be confused with National Candy Day (November 4), of course.

I’m not sure who comes up with this stuff. Perhaps it is the masterminds behind Sweetest Day (the third Saturday in October). According to Wikipedia, Sweetest Day has been called “a ‘concocted promotion’ created by the candy industry solely to increase sales of candy.” (The same accusations have been made against Hallmark by Valentine’s Day deviants.)

That said, Retail Confectioners International (www.retailconfectioners.org) reports that this once regional holiday (celebrated primarily in Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo, New York), “is gaining in popularity every year throughout the country. Some RCI members even report that Sweetest Day sales exceed Mothers Day!”

Furthermore, RCI recommends that retailers actively promote the holiday in their stores: “Sweetest Day will bring substantial business increases to your business if you do your share in reminding your customers of the approaching holiday and suggesting that they participate in the celebration.”

Retailers might consider taking the same cues RCI offers for Sweetest Day and applying them to other candy- and snack-themed holidays. For example, RCI suggests displaying Sweetest Day posters in advance of the date and “conspicuously, where there is heavy store traffic,” as well as informing local newspapers about Sweetest Day “and what preparations your business had made to help customers celebrate it,” and explaining Sweetest Day to shoppers, even making “suggestions regarding appropriate gifts, keeping in mind that the possibilities are limitless.” And don’t forget to make sure that “merchandise advertised for Sweetest Day is prominently displayed.”

Some other food-based holidays for possible promotion in stores …

In June: National Peanut Butter Cookie Day (June 12), National Fudge Day (June 16), National Pecan Sandy Day (June 23), National Pralines Day (June 24) and National Almond Butter Crunch Day (June 29).

In July: National Gingersnap Day (July 1), National Chocolate Wafer Day (July 3), National Chocolate with Almonds Day (July 8), National Sugar Cookie Day (July 9), National Lollipop Day (July 20), National Junk Food Day (July 21), National Milk Chocolate Day (July 28), National Cotton Candy Day (July 31) and National Jump for Jelly Beans Day (July 31).

Jump for Jelly Beans? National Rocky Road Day is beginning to sound more mainstream. And it now being summer, who couldn’t go for a scoop or two? As “My Girl” Vada Sultenfuss put it in her “Ode to Ice Cream”: “I like ice cream a whole lot. It tastes good when days are hot. On a cone, or in a dish. This would be my only wish. Vanilla, chocolate, or Rocky Road, Even with pie a la mode. … That's all I got so far.”

Me, too, Vada. Me, too.