By Brad Tuttle
July 13, 2015

There are many ways to take advantage of the restaurant giveaways that seem to constantly be popping up. The best and easiest is when customers can simply show up on the right day and ask for a free Slurpee or free donut or whatever.

The next level of freebie requires some kind of advance preparation on the behalf of the customer—signing up for a loyalty program, for instance, or printing out a coupon. Occasionally, the requirements to partake in the freebies can be quite specific and, well, bovine.

Such is the case with the annual Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A, being held on Tuesday, July 14, this year. On this day, anyone dressed like a cow from head to toe (or head to hoof) will be awarded a full free meal at participating Chick-fil-A restaurants. Dress partially like a cow—say, with a cow-print hat or even a T-shirt with cow spots scribbled with a marker—and you’ll get a free entrée.

In the past, Chick-fil-A offered a printable costume to help customers make their cow costumes at home just with paper and printer ink. Lately, Chick-fil-A is encouraging guests to first scour their homes and closets for all manner of cow-printed clothes and accessories, or to make one’s one outfit with paper, paint, and markers, or to hit the Internet for other ideas.

As for why people are being asked to dress like cows, and why and how Cow Appreciation Day was created, the history spans two decades and involves a “renegade cow” marketing campaign. Billboards, TV commercials, painted water towers and more have been used by cows to encourage people to “Eat Mor Chikin” at Chick-fil-A instead of wolfing down burger after burger at those other fast food joints.

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