O'BRIEN: Don't fret if you missed National Junk Food Day - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

O'BRIEN: Don't fret if you missed National Junk Food Day

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We've all had times where we've tried to eat more healthfully. You'd grab a fiber bar instead of a Milky Way or reach for a Vitamin Water instead of a Mountain Dew. However, many of us opt for the unhealthful choice: Americans love their junk food.

According to a study released by the Pew Research Center earlier this year, 44 percent of Americans said they ate at a fast food restaurant at least once per week. There were 160,000 fast food restaurants in America. Those restaurants are serving 50 million Americans daily and brought in $110 billion in revenue during 2013.

If you missed it, Monday was the day to celebrate. It was National Junk Food Day, just like every July 21. Whether you knew it or not, there are celebrations on the calendar for all types of food. According to Wikipedia, there are 185 different food days during the year. During July, 43 different foods are feted. You may have missed National Sugar Cookie Day (July 9) and National Caviar Day (July 18), too. November, a month where we stuff ourselves with turkey and the fixings, is also heavy with food celebrations as it has 40 foods celebrated during the month.

But junk food is something that we can all get behind. Even those among us who live the healthy lifestyle love to indulge in a little junk on their cheat days. Here's a look at the junk food that keeps me going:

1. Reese's peanut butter cups. The best candy bar ever made. Statistics show the average American eats 25 pounds of candy per year. Twenty of mine are from these treats. Whoever decided to combine peanut butter and chocolate needs to be given some kind of reward. In past years, the peanut butter cup has shown its versatility by being included in ice cream and cookies. An honorable mention here should go to Reese's Pieces, which are just as delectable as their bigger cousin.

2. Mountain Dew. What I wouldn't give for a Mountain Dew right now. A few months back, I gave up soda/pop -- again -- to cut out the useless calories from my diet. Instead, I turned to drinking more water. Mountain Dew is the nectar of the soda-pop gods. My kids have been sucking down something called Mountain Dew Baja Blast lately. They say it's great. With Mountain Dew on the label, how can it be bad?

3. Corn dogs. County fair season is here. There is nothing better than shuffling through a dusty grandstand than by hauling a corn dog as long as your arm. There is nothing better than a fair corn dog. The ones they sell at the store try to duplicate the goodness of those at the fair, but it's really a losing battle.

4. Pepperoni pizza. Again, another gold star to the pizza maker who first thought of putting pepperonis on a pie. Not sure that it is even humanly possible to mess up a pepperoni pizza.

5. Root beer float. The ultimate combination of ice cream and soft drink. I lean toward A&W's root beer and French vanilla ice cream to make mine. Getting the right mix of root beer and ice cream without enough foam is the key to a successful float.

If you didn't get enough junk food on Monday, make up for it during National Vanilla Ice Cream Day (July 23), National Hot Fudge Sundae Day (July 25) or National Milk Chocolate Day. There's never a bad time to celebrate.

-- dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

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