50 restaurants that offer free food on your birthday
The first coupon ever in circulation was produced by Coca-Cola in 1887, offering a free sample of the 1-year-old company's new soft drink. The marketing scheme worked: By 1895 the beverage had arrived in every U.S. territory; and in the early 1900s coupons were perfasive across consumer products. That's because when something is free or discounted, its perceived value tends to increase—as does the perceived generosity of the company. But there's another secret behind free and discounted marketing: It makes customers spend a lot more.
This psychology works to the advantage of restaurants across the country. Many companies offer customers a free entree, drink, or dessert on the house to celebrate a birthday, for example, which inevitably leads to the purchase of drinks and more food—and which can pull customers into establishments not normally frequented. To find out where all the free birthday treats are, Stacker scoured the websites of a variety of restaurants to find 50 that will gift patrons free goodies on their big day. To make the cut, these restaurants had to be chains with locations in numerous states around the country. But let it be known: Free is rarely actually free (except at Cracker Barrel and Denny’s). At almost every establishment in this gallery, you must sign up for a restaurant’s email newsletter or free rewards program in order to qualify for the complimentary birthday meal or snack. Do the work at least a week before your birthday; subscribe, wait, and enjoy the birthday loot.
Here are 50 restaurants where getting older means getting fuller for free.
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At the Cheesecake Factory, famously loved by NBA stars, birthdays are a big deal. If you alert your waiter beforehand, they’ll bring you a complimentary sundae with candle and even write "Happy Birthday" on your plate with a caramel or chocolate sauce.
Cracker Barrel is a one-of-a-kind chain with kitsch-heavy throwback decorum. If you happen to be at the country store restaurant, just tell your server it’s your birthday, and they’ll bring a free dessert and sing you into your new year.
Unlike other restaurants that make you sign up for a rewards program for your birthday freebie, Denny’s offers something free to every birthday patron. Go into Denny’s on your birthday, show your ID, and get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam: two pancakes, bacon, sausage, and two eggs any style.
If you join the membership club at Jimmy Buffet’s chain restaurant, you’ll get a free appetizer for signing up and a free scoop of ice cream on your birthday.
Hooters offers a free appetizer just for signing up for its HootClub. If you’re a member and go to Hooters to celebrate your big day, you’ll get 10 wings for free.
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Most famous for its Bloomin' Onion, an onion opened like a flower and then deep-fried, the Australian-themed steakhouse chain offers a free kids-size vanilla sundae to rewards members on their big day.
Sprinkles, the cupcake shop with locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Washington D.C., has a pretty amazing membership club. If you sign up for Sprinkles Perks, you enter a tiered membership program that includes free cupcakes every other Tuesday, a free item with every 15 purchases, and a free cupcake on your birthday.
If you sign up for DD Perks, you’ll get a free drink on your birthday. The Massachusetts-born international chain (now simply called Dunkin') is strongly linked to Boston, a town that calls it Dunks.
The ice cream giant has a Baskin-Robbins Birthday Club that offers its members—and their family and friends—perks on their birthday. On club members‘ birthdays, they receive a free 2.5-ounce scoop and $3 off a Baskin-Robbins birthday cake.
IHOP made international news and went viral when it temporarily changed its name to IHOb in June of 2018 ('b" for burgers) to promote a new line of patties. If you join the e-club, you’ll get a free stack of pancakes on your birthday, plus every anniversary of your signing up.
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