Though we’re already in mid-January, I’d still like to take the opportunity to wish Happy New Year to all. I hope the holidays were joyful and restful, and that 2017 has gotten off to a great start.
The first part of the year is one of my favorite times. Despite cold, windy and messy weather (in Chicagoland, at least), January brings the optimism of a fun, eventful and productive 12 months.
Like many people, I set goals for what I’d like to do and achieve over the year. As always, maintaining a solid nutrition and exercise regimen is on the list, but I’m also trying to meditate and learn Portuguese through a smartphone app. Check back with me in October to see how it goes.
One of the other things I do is go through last year’s calendar to pull important dates, birthdays and anniversaries and get them on the new one. That way I don’t forget or miss them. This year, though, I decided to take a light-hearted approach to calendar planning. 
National Day Calendar, a Mandan, N.D.-based group, compiles the quirky and unusual national holidays honoring all kinds of causes, food and items. And they run the gamut. Wednesday, Jan. 11, for example, was National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day, National Milk Day and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, according to the group.
Being fairly new to the candy industry, I wanted to see which days brought opportunities to learn more about particular confections and ingredients. They’re also great for manufacturers and suppliers, since they provide simple ways to create buzz about products and brands, especially on social media.
Candy and confections are well represented on the National Day Calendar, I found. The first quarter is particularly celebratory, with 19 holidays.
January brings us Chocolate Covered Cherry Day (Jan. 3), English Toffee Day (Jan. 8) and Bittersweet Chocolate Day (Jan. 10). Thursday was National Marzipan Day, for those who couldn't get enough of the almond paste. Popcorn Day is Jan. 19, followed by Buttercrunch Day on Jan. 20.
With Valentine’s Day, February is already a good month for candy, but its remaining 27 days do not disappoint. Peppermint Patty Day falls on Feb. 11, and Cream-Filled Chocolates Day falls on Feb. 14. Gumdrop Day follows on the 15th, with Almond Day (Feb. 16), Chocolate Mint Day (Feb. 19) right behind.
March kicks off with Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (March 1), followed by Peanut Cluster day on March 8. The month also brings Chocolate Caramel Day (March 19), Chocolate Covered Raisin Day (March 24) and Nougat Day (March 26).
Others that are important to note include Caramel Day (April 15), Jelly Bean Day (April 22), Sour Candy Day (July 18), Lollipop Day (July 20), Nut Day (Oct. 22), Candy Day (Nov. 4).
While they don’t carry the weight of other candy-inclined holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas, these holidays provide diversion and a chance to stop, think and appreciate.
Those are things we could all use in the year ahead.