National Cuban Sandwich Day started as a reporter’s attempt at a hoax

National Cuban Sandwich Day, an annual Aug. 23 celebration of the popular food item, was started in 2016 by a Tampa Bay Times reporter who set out to conduct a “hoax” but ended up with a holiday.

Christopher Spata, a staff reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, said he became fascinated by food holidays in 2016 and set out to see if he could create one of his own and have it spread across the country.

“I had long had the vague notion that at some point I’d try my hand at creating one of these food holidays that you’ve no doubt seen jamming up your social media feeds, telling you it’s National Taco Day or National Hot Dog Day,” Spata wrote.

Spata said he chose the Cuban sandwich — a Tampa-native sandwich consisting of ham, roasted pork, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread — as the subject of his holiday, and Aug. 23 as the date. He said the date coincided with National Sponge Cake Day, which he considers to be a food of less importance.

Spata used an assumed name, S.G. Spata, and sent a fake press release to food writers and restaurants around the country. He also created a Facebook group promoting Aug. 23 as National Cuban Sandwich Day.

Spata said the holiday quickly spread across the Internet, and his editor told him he had to tell the truth about the day’s origins.

“I wrote back to every single person who responded with any interest in Cuban Sandwich Day. I told them my name, that I was a reporter, and explained how I’d invented the whole thing. I expected at least some of them to be angry,” he wrote. “None of them were.”

Restaurants and food writers decided to celebrate National Cuban Sandwich Day despite its origins as an intended “hoax,” and the holiday is still celebrated today.

Other holidays and observances for Aug. 23, 2022, include Buttered Corn Day, Hug Your Sweetheart Day, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade & its Abolition, Internaut Day, National Cheap Flight Day, National Ride the Wind Day, National Sponge Cake Day and Valentino Day.