Leap Day, on Feb. 29, the only date on the calendar to come once every four years, has surprisingly few traditions behind it.
In parts of Europe, women are encouraged to propose to men on Leap Day. There are a few superstitions against marrying on Leap Day, or even during Leap Year, but that’s about it.
Restaurants are trying to change that by using the day as an opportunity to promote special menu prices or treats for people born on this most rare of dates.
Some restaurants are offering specially priced items related to the number 29, or 2/29, such as Atlanta-based Tropical Smoothie Café, which is offering its loyalty program members a Classic Smoothie for $2.29, instead of its regular price of around $4.49, at its 465 locations.
In 2012, The Greene Turtle offered 29-cent wings to its loyalty program members on Feb. 29, but this year it is expanding the offer to all of its customers. The wings are available Maryland-style — dry with an Old Bay rub — or in one of the Hanover, Md.-based chain’s 11 sauces at its 42 participating locations, excluding units at BWI Airport and the Verizon Center entertainment venue.
Additionally, people who post a picture of themselves and their wings on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TGTLeapDay will be entered for a chance to win prizes such as Greene Turtle branded T-shirts and hoodies, as well as gift cards.
Hungry Howie’s, a 549-unit pizza chain based in Madison Heights, Mich., is offering a large, one-topping pizza for 29 cents with the purchase of a large pizza with one or more toppings at its regular price. That offer is actually available for two days: Feb. 29 and March 1.
Tacos Tu Madre, a taqueria in Los Angeles slated to open its second restaurant this spring, is offering its Asada Tacos for 29 cents on Leap Day, no strings attached.
Other restaurants are offering free food to people born on Leap Day, such as 337-unit McAlister’s Deli, based in Atlanta, Ga., which is handing out free cookies to people born on Feb. 29, with valid photo identification.
Leap-year babies can also bring their IDs to one of the 278 Villa Italian Kitchen locations for a free slice of pizza. Villa is a subsidiary of Villa Restaurant Group, based in Morristown, N.J.
Orlando, Fla.-based Hard Rock Cafe is being a bit more magnanimous, offering a free entrée from its Leaplings Eat Free menu, which includes a burger, mac and cheese, a pulled pork sandwich and a chicken Caesar salad, among other choices, at participating restaurants among its 47 domestic locations.
“There are more than 200,000 leap day babies in the United States alone, and they only get to celebrate their ‘real birthday’ once every four years,” Hard Rock International senior director of marketing, Alex Merchan, said in a press release. “We want to reward those who have waited so patiently to celebrate with one of our fresh, quality meals — a delicious birthday present from Hard Rock Cafe!”
Correction: Feb. 24, 2016 An earlier version of this article misstated the headquarters of McAlister’s Deli, which is Atlanta.