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Cinco de Mayo: 5 facts you should know (but probably don't)

Cinco de Mayo in the United States is widely known as a celebration of Mexican-American culture filled with margaritas, tacos and tons of fun.

>> Read more trending news

But before you prep for your upcoming fiesta or scramble to make some last-minute party plans, you may want to brush up on what the holiday is truly about.

Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about Cinco de Mayo:

May 5 is not Mexico’s independence day.

The date is still widely misunderstood as Mexico’s independence day, but Cinco de Mayo is actually a celebration of the surprising Mexican army’s victory over France at the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

According to History.com, the Mexicans were both vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied as they prepared for the French.

But in the end, nearly 500 French soldiers died and less than 100 Mexicans were killed. While the victory wasn’t a major win in the overall war (the French won the next year and occupied the region for five years), it represented “a great symbolic victory.”

>> How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

The battle stems from Mexico’s immense debt to France in the early 1860s, which led to Napoleon III’s decision to send troops to not only overtake Mexico City, but also to help form a Confederate-friendly country that would neighbor the South, according to Time.

Independence Day in Mexico, when it gained its independence from the Spanish colonial government in 1810, is commemorated on Sept. 16.

Cinco de Mayo isn’t all that popular in Mexico.

The holiday is primarily celebrated in Puebla, where the 1862 battle took place. There, locals gather for a big, colorful parade and reenact the war dressed as French and Mexican soldiers before breaking out in song and dance after the reenacted victory.

But for many Mexicans, it’s just another day.

How did the holiday get so popular in the U.S.?

The holiday’s popularity began as the unlikely Battle of Puebla Mexican victory reached California-based Latinos, many of whom were not only happy about Mexico’s victory, but had been rooting for Union forces in the Civil War at the same time, Time reported.

As California Latinos found out, they formed a network of patriotic organizations to raise money for the Mexican troops.

“They had to kind of make the case for fighting for freedom and democracy and they were able to link the struggle of Mexico to the struggle of the Civil War, so there were simultaneous fights for democracy,” Jose Alamillo, a California professor of Chicano studies, told Time.

Former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s enactment of the Good Neighbor Policy in 1933 is also considered part of the holiday’s popularization. 

But the party-filled Cinco de Mayo Americans celebrate today didn’t become popular until U.S. beer companies began targeting the Spanish-speaking population in the 1970s and 1980s, Alamillo said.

Today, Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. is primarily a celebration of Mexican-American culture.

How many Mexican-Americans are there in the U.S.?

According to the U.S. Census, the Hispanic population of the U.S. as of July 1, 2015 was 56.6 million — 17.6 percent of the country’s total population.

And of the Hispanic population in 2015, 63.4 percent were of Mexican origin.

Americans consume a crazy amount of avocados on Cinco de Mayo.

According to Forbes, Americans eat 81 million pounds of avocados on Cinco de Mayo. 

This is great news for Mexico’s economy, considering 82 percent of America’s avocados come from Mexico.

Last year, avocado prices were at an all-time high due to high demand and reduced harvests in other major avocado production markets.

In fact, the average price of an avocado in the U.S. had increased from 98 cents each in April 2016 to $1.26 in April 2017. In 2018, however, the average price of an avocado is approximately $1.03, according to Hass Avocado.

Cutting carbs? Noodles & Company unveils trendy new noodle replacement

The national restaurant chain Noodles & Company, which operates four restaurants across the region, announced today the nationwide launch of zucchini noodles that restaurant officials say will be spiral-cut daily at each location.

The lower-calorie and low-carb zucchini noodles — or “zoodles” — are making their debut in two dishes: the new Zucchini Romesco, and the existing menu item Thai Green Curry with Shrimp. And they can be substituted in any other dish for a 75-cent charge.

>> Read more trending news 

Zucchini Romesco is topped with roasted red pepper sauce made with almonds, sun-dried tomatoes and vegetables. The Zucchini Thai Green Curry with Shrimp pairs a sweet coconut green curry sauce with pineapple, broccoli, red onion, snap peas, lime, black sesame seeds and cilantro. 

In a release, Noodles & Company officials say the company is the first national fast-casual chain to offer zoodles nationwide.

"Expanding our noodle offerings from classic pastas like cavatappi, elbow and spaghetti to more adventurous noodles like udon, rice and ramen, zucchini is a natural step in providing our guests with more creative options,” Chas Hermann, chief brand officer at Noodles & Company, said in a release. “In addition to zucchini tasting delicious and being a great substitute in every dish we serve, zucchini noodles also meet many of today's dietary needs, such as low-carb and gluten-free."

Small zoodle bowls start at $5.75, with regular bowls starting at $7.25. To encourage guests to give zucchini noodles a try, the chain is offering a taste guarantee: Any guest who orders a bowl of zucchini noodles and doesn't feel the zoodle love can get a replacement traditional noodle dish at no additional cost, company officials said. 

Zoodles are available at all 476 Noodles restaurants nationwide. 

How to get free Chipotle on Teacher Appreciation Day

Chipotle will celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day on May 8 with a tasty deal: buy one, get one free burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos at participating stores.

According to the restaurant chain's website, educators can claim their freebie from 3 p.m. to close Tuesday, May 8, by presenting their faculty ID.

>> Read more trending news 

The promotion is limited to "one free entree item per customer," available "for in-restaurant orders only" and "not valid for online, mobile, fax or catering orders," the website says

To be on the safe side, contact your local Chipotle to make sure it is participating in the offer.

Read more here.

Lemon-glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts available for one week only

Krispy Kreme is offering its signature doughnuts with lemon glaze, but only for a week.

Participating shops of the doughnut chain are offering the flavor from April 23 to April 29. The glaze was one of four options customers could vote for. The others, Food and Wine reported, were caramel, maple and blueberry.

>> Read more trending news 

According to a news release, the #VoteForGlaze campaign pulled in nearly 2 million votes. Maple had 18 percent of the vote, while blueberry had 20 percent and caramel was second with had 26 percent.

Depending on the success of the limited run, Krispy Kreme could sell the lemon-glazed doughnuts seasonally, Food and Wine reported.

“Experimenting with the many flavor profiles lemon presents to create an all-new lemon glaze was a fun, but serious culinary challenge,” Jackie Woodward, Krispy Kreme’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “There has been so much anticipation and zest for the new Lemon Glaze Doughnut, we can’t wait to share the joy with our fans!”

Customers can find out if the Lemon Glaze Doughnut is available at a Krispy Kreme near them at KrispyKreme.com.

NC restaurant offering tarantula burger

This burger has legs -- eight of them, to be exact.

>> Read more trending news

A North Carolina restaurant, celebrating Exotic Meat Month, is serving a tarantula burger, WGHP reported.

Bull City Burger and Brewery runs the exotic meat promotion every April, noting on its website that “We never met a meat we wouldn’t eat!”

The burger costs $30 and includes a beef burger, gruyere cheese, an oven-roasted tarantula and spicy chili sauce, WGHP reported.

But to bite into this burger, customers must enter a raffle. Customers must sign up for the Tarantula Challenge in the restaurant, then monitor Facebook and the restaurant’s website to see if their ticket is chosen.

If the winning participant eats the entire burger, they will receive a free T-shirt, WGHP reported.

Heinz introduces Mayochup, mayonnaise-ketchup combo, so when will you be able to find it?

Checking calendar ... no it isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke. Heinz is actually introducing a mayonnaise and ketchup mix called Mayochup.

Fox News reports that Mayochup is also known as fry sauce, fancy sauce and a multitude of other names with sauce worked in.

>> Read more trending news 

But Heinz is mixing it’s two signature products Heinz Ketchup and Heinz Real Mayonnaise for the newest release.

The bad news is for those who want to try it, it is only available in the Arab Gulf states, Fox News reported. But hope is not lost. 

It will be launched in the U.S. if it gets 500,000 votes.

As of Thursday afternoon, 55 percent of the more than 461,000 votes are in favor of the new mashup with three days left to cast your lot.

Heinz Real Mayonnaise was recently released and is made with 100 percent cage-free eggs.

 

Wawa Day: Get free coffee on chain's 54th anniversary today

Want some free coffee? If you live near a Wawa convenience store, you can get a complimentary caffeine fix on "Wawa Day," a celebration of the chain's 54th anniversary.

>> RELATED STORY: Ben & Jerry's is giving away free ice cream Tuesday

According to a Wawa news release, customers can get "free cups of any-size coffee" Thursday at any of the company's 790-plus stores in Pennsylvania; Florida; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; and Virginia.

Wawa "expects to give away 2 million free cups" of java throughout the day, the company said.

>> Read more trending news 

The press release continued: "In April of 2014, Wawa celebrated its 50th anniversary in convenience retailing and marked the milestone with the first Wawa Day event and the launch of The Wawa Foundation, a 501c(3) non-profit organization founded to encompass most of Wawa's charitable giving. At its inception, Wawa and The Wawa Foundation set a goal to donate $50 million to causes supporting health, hunger and everyday heroes by 2018. During its 2018 Wawa Day celebration, Wawa and The Wawa Foundation are pleased to announce that they have met this goal as of early 2018, and over the past four years have donated $50 million to causes surrounding health, hunger and heroes throughout Wawa’s operating area."

Read more here.

Best Pizza in Every State: The winners are…

Everyone knows there’s amazing pizza to be found in every state, and several of your best spots claim to be “the best.”

But which places actually take the top spot?

The Daily Meal compiled a handy list that breaks down the best pizza in every state, as well as Washington D.C.

>> Read more trending news 

According to The Daily Meal

In Massachusetts, Area Four in Cambridge has been called the best in the state.

In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s Pizzeria Vetri is tops.

In Georgia, Duluth is the home of O4W, while Charlotte can boast North Carolina’s best, Pizzeria Omaggio.

For Florida, Delray Beach’s Scuola Vecchia Pizza has the best pizza for the Sunshine State.

Memphis’ own Hog & Hominy has the best pizza for Tennessee.

Empire Slice House in Oklahoma City is the best for Oklahoma.

No one can mess with Texas’ Home Slice Pizza in Austin.

Seattle is home to Washington’s best Serious Pie.

For Ohio, nothing can beat Crust in Cleveland.

New York is known for its pizza, but John’s of Bleecker Street is known as the best.

For the full list, click here.

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Ben & Jerry's is giving away free ice cream Tuesday

Get ready for another free guilty pleasure.

Ben & Jerry's scoop shops are scooping out their ice cream for free tomorrow all around the world. 

From noon until 8 p.m., the popular ice cream company's stores will give everyone who stops by a cone of your favorite flavor for free. 

>> Read more trending stories  

It's the company's way to say thanks for another year of success, according to Ben & Jerry's Facebook event.

Every year there are long lines, so the company has come up with 10 ways to pass the line time like talking to strangers and starting a sing-a-long.

Ben & Jerry's has been giving free cones away since 1979.

Dunkin’ Donuts hosting free 4-hour cold brew tasting event Friday

This is not about fake brews. In fact, it’s about new brews that are very real.

>> Read more trending news

Dunkin’ Donuts, as part of a special nationwide cold brew tasting event, is offering a complimentary sample Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time, the company said in a news release.

Patrons who stop by participating Dunkin’ Donuts franchises during that four-hour time frame can receive a complimentary 3.5-ounce sample while supplies last.

The cold brew is prepared with a special blend of coffee that is placed in cold water for 12 hours, the company said in its news release. The result is a “uniquely distinctive, inherently sweeter flavor,” Dunkin’ Donuts said.

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