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by Michael Sansolo

Though short on days, the month of February is long on opportunities to build promotions around food, but there might be a big one that gets vastly under celebrated.

No doubt, every food store in America celebrated and worked hard this past weekend thanks to the Super Bowl essentially becoming the biggest food holiday this side of Thanksgiving. And then we had Valentine’s Day, which offers up near endless opportunities to help people like me find flowers and (more than ever) meal solutions to whip up unexpectedly good fare for the day. (BTW - I failed!)

And the reality is that most supermarkets nail it when it comes to both days.

But ask yourself if you are maximizing February’s longest celebration, the annual commemoration of Black History Month. Now granted in today’s hyper-partisan and sensitive times this may seem like a path you don’t want to risk taking, but the opportunity is there to deservedly celebrate African-American culture and focus on food in a way that could delight any shopper.

You can easily start by watching a bit of mediocre fare on Netflix called “Somebody Feed Phil,” starring Phil Rosenthal, best known as the creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” a long-time television hit. Rosenthal’s assignment in this new show is to travel to cities around the world, sampling every day cuisine and, spoiler alert: he seems to like everything in a very non-critical way.

However, two episodes really struck me as it pertains to Black History Month. On Phil’s trips to both Chicago and New Orleans, he spends significant time in long-standing African-American neighborhoods, sampling local favorites and learning about the culture and history surrounding each dish. 

That serving of history and community connection comes across most strongly in New Orleans when he visits the Tremé, a neighborhood still on the rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Though his travels Phil meets locals trying to rebuild community spirit, with food at the center of his journey and their efforts.

The connection of food to history, culture and community seems like a recipe to build ever better promotions for events like Black History Month or even celebrations of different nations and peoples. It takes us beyond just putting up signs and displays and allows food to spur insight into the how and why some traditions came to pass.

It might be a way to connect on a much deeper level with your African-American customers, for example, during Black History Month, while exposing your Caucasian customers to interesting new recipes and meal ideas with a side of historical education.

Sure, it’s not as easy as putting chicken wings and beer on display for the Super Bowl or candy and Roses for Valentine’s Day, but it might go a long way to building superior community connections well beyond a single month.

Doing nothing it would seem (and forgive the paraphrase here) would be a missed opportunity and that’s a terrible thing to waste.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.