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Seeing as May 13 is International Hummus Day we have no choice but to celebrate the intoxicatingly delicious concoction of garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic – otherwise known as hummus. From whipping up a batch of your own custom-flavored red pepper hummus to spreading some store-bought dessert hummus on a cookie, there are endless ways to celebrate. We hear that there’s even some magical thing called a hummus festival – we’re not missing that! Hummus has been around for centuries and remains one of the most versatile and healthy staples in many diets. Today, we celebrate hummus for all that provides our diet and culture, as well as how we can all agree – it’s nature’s perfect food.
History of International Hummus Day
The origin of hummus is cloudy and hotly contested. Though we know it originated in the Middle East, many regions around the Eastern crescent of the Mediterranean claim to be the one true originator of the delectable spread. The first real mention of hummus in a cookbook was found in 13th century Cairo, where it appears as merely a cold chickpea puree, and notably lacks lemon juice and garlic – including instead pickled lemons with oil, herbs, and spices. It still sounds pretty good to us.
Hummus remained a huge staple in the diet of many living in the Middle East, where chickpeas flourish. In fact, the word “hummus” is rooted in the Arabic word for “chickpea”! Though there is some debate over whether or not the Greeks also invented hummus, most believe that it spread between Greek and Middle Eastern traders, along with popular delicacies like baklava and stuffed grape leaves. It’s known for this reason as one of the greatest crossover foods.
It’s also the national dish for many countries in the Middle East. It’s a cultural phenomenon as much as a culinary one, and nations stick up for their claim to hummus. For example, in 2008 Lebanon tried to sue Israel for “stealing” hummus! After that, the two strove to set the record for the largest plate of hummus. For all its long-lasting popularity in the Middle East and Southern Europe, it may surprise you to learn that the first British grocery store to stock hummus only did so in 1980. Unsurprisingly, however, it quickly became a great hit in the UK, largely for its health benefits.
Hummus definitely had a fashionably late arrival to the U.S. While 20 years ago, most Americans probably couldn’t even pronounce the name of the dish, and annual sales barely topped $5 million, today it is found in most grocery stores and considered a staple in many American households. While in the Middle East, hummus is increasingly considered a somewhat routine and middle-class meal, Americans are falling for the brownish spread – hard. It’s estimated that more than a quarter of U.S. households have hummus in the fridge right this second.
The first International Hummus Day was in 2012 and our taste buds have been celebrating ever since.
International Hummus Day timeline
According to the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council (we didn’t know this existed, either), the hummus industry brought in $725 million in 2016 - and that number is expected to increase.
International Hummus Day begins with entrepreneur Ben Lang’s goal to unite the world, and particularly the Middle East, through beloved food.
Hummus broke world records in 2010 when a single dish of hummus weighed in at 23,000 pounds!
Lebanon and Israel begin to battle for the recognition of being hummus’ country of origin.
In 13th century Cairo, the earliest known hummus-like dish was recorded in cookbooks. It was a cold puree of chickpeas but didn’t include any lemon or garlic yet.
International Hummus Day FAQs
When is International Hummus Day celebrated?
Are there any deals for International Hummus Day?
Absolutely! In addition to deals from restaurants like Naf Naf Grill and Cava, there are hummus events and celebrations, including Hummus Week in Washington, DC.
Where is International Hummus Day observed?
Are there any other National holidays on the same day as International Hummus Day?
Yes! May 13th is also National Apple Pie Day, National Fruit Cocktail Day, and National Receptionists Day.
International Hummus Day Activities
Make your own hummus!
The key to being a forever favorite seems to be simplicity - hummus is based on just chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. There are many fabulous hummus recipes online, but as long as you have a food processor and the key four ingredients, you’ll be successful in making the staple! Once you’ve got that down, try adding some flavors for your own custom hummus.
Try out a new hummus flavor
What do roasted red peppers, jalapeno, avocado, black olives, and chocolate have in common? They’re all fantastic hummus flavors! If your store doesn’t carry the flavor that you’re craving, pick up some plain hummus anyway and spice it up to your heart’s desire - the possibilities are endless!
Attend a hummus festival
You heard us right - hummus festivals are real! Check out the hashtag #hummusday or the account @hummusday on Instagram to see what events are happening near you. You can also find Hummus Day on Facebook or check out the various events on their website. Spoiler - they’re in every continent, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something you can attend!
Surprising Facts About Hummus
Happy Heart, Healthy Heart
Hummus, which contains Omega-3 fatty acids, is known to maintain both heart health and a good mood!
The Same in Every Country
Though the spread has gone global and the recipe has been tweaked slightly, the four key ingredients always persist: chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon juice, and garlic.
It’s an Aphrodisiac
Made from protein- and vitamin-rich chickpeas (the “Queen of Aphrodisiacs,” as they are sometimes called), hummus has been known to aid in sexual functions and boost physical energy.
One Lean Cuppa
In just one cup of chickpeas, the basic ingredient of hummus, there are 200 calories and only one gram of fat.
The First Food
In some folklore, hummus is touted as one of the oldest-ever prepared foods.
Why We Love International Hummus Day
Hummus unites people
Though many different regions around the world lay claim to the development of hummus, at least we can all agree that this versatile and healthy spread is nature’s perfect food. It’s been adopted across the globe with shockingly minimal changes to either the recipe or the name - we clearly all love it for exactly what it is.
It’s chock-full of vitamins
Hummus is basically… a multivitamin. It’s bursting with fiber, protein, potassium, B6, folate, and Vitamin C. Not to mention, it can lower your cholesterol, nip hunger and excess snacking in the bud, and potentially even contribute to lower risk of some cancers!
The possibilities are endless
What doesn’t hummus go on? Besides being a great chip and vegetable dip alternative to fattier dips like ranch, hummus can be used on sandwiches, salads, and so much more. These days, it can be endlessly favored as well, from spicy to savory to even dessert. The jury is out on that one for us but at least it’s healthier than ice cream.
International Hummus Day dates