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5 ways to celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

Rejoice, PB&J lovers: Now you have the perfect excuse to enjoy your favorite treat.

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.

Here are a few ways you can celebrate:

>> Read more trending news 

1. Make a PB&J. (Yes, this one is pretty obvious.) According to the New York Daily News, a 2016 survey by Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut Butter found that the average American will eat nearly 3,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during his or her lifetime. Read more here.

2. Try something a little more adventurous. Is the traditional PB&J not really your thing? If you’re feeling brave, check out this recipe for Spicy Peanut Butter & Jelly Ramen:

3. Eat like the “King.” According to Elaine Dundy's book "Elvis and Gladys," Elvis Presley would eat "sandwich after sandwich of his favorite – peanut butter, sliced bananas and crisp bacon." Get the book here. 

4. Bake a cake. HuffPost raves about the School-Lunch Cake from Caroline Wright’s “Cake Magic!” cookbook. Check out the recipe here.

5. Help us settle the great debate. Which style of peanut butter better – crunchy or creamy? "Women and children prefer creamy, while most men opt for chunky," the National Peanut Board says on its website. There's also a geographic divide: East Coast residents tend to like smooth peanut butter, while West Coasters like theirs crunchy, according to the site.

What do you think? Weigh in with our poll:

Buffalo Wild Wings’ customers top restaurant loyalty index

There are tons of casual dining restaurants to visit to enjoy a nice meal. From Applebee’s to Hooters, the possibilities are endless. But which one has the most loyal customers?

» RELATED: Arby's purchase of Buffalo Wild Wings part of shifting wing war

Foursquare, a location technology company, recently conducted a study to find out. For its first ever Casual Dining Restaurant Loyalty Index, researchers analyzed chains earning over $100 million in annual revenue according to Restaurant Business Online’s list of the top casual dining chains

They then used the patterns of Foursquare users, who had been active on the site for at least one year, to assess dining trends across four major categories. The sections were visit frequency; market penetration, the percentage of all CDR diners who visited the chain within a year; share of wallet, the percentage of the consumer’s total CDR visits that a particular chain captures within a year; and fanaticism threshold, the number of visits within a year required for a customer to be within the top 1 percent of customers. 

» RELATED: The best wings in Atlanta

After calculating the results, they found that Buffalo Wild Wings, which is owned by Atlanta-based finance company Roark Capital Group, came out on top. Analysts reported that its high penetration and share of wallet helped the eatery claim the No. 1 spot. 

“Fanaticism also increased year-over-year, due in part to a contingent of superfans most likely going wild for the chain’s Blazin’ Rewards loyalty program, which expanded in 2017 to serve all 1200+ locations,” the authors wrote.

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Denny’s, Applebee’s and IHOP all followed right behind Buffalo Wild Wings to round out the top five

The researchers also highlighted a specific trends. They noted that alcohol, particularly beer, drives loyalty. They also pointed out restaurants providing a variety of food options for patrons as a loyalty indicator. Lastly, they said restaurants that merged, such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby’s, “helped brands increase industry presence, capture new audiences, and drive overall share of wallet.”

Want to know how other places fared? Take a look at the full report here

Blue Bell reveals new ice cream flavor

Blue Bell’s newest limited edition flavor combines the best of several worlds into one, but the best news might be that you can order it and have it shipped anywhere in the U.S.

>> Read more trending news 

At first glance, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough might seem to be targeting the cookie dough ice cream fans, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that it’s the people who love peanut butter cookies and chocolate — aka people who also love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — who will be seeking out this flavor.

>> On Austin360.com: With no Blue Bell in sight, putting other ice creams to the test

The Brenham-based ice creamery often releases limited edition flavors, which sometimes sell out quickly. This flavor is available in 1/2 gallon and pint sizes, and it’s one of dozens of flavors you can order ($129 for four 1/2 gallons) to have shipped anywhere in the U.S. You can’t place the order online, but you can call 979-836-7977 to find out more.

>> On Austin360.com: How to make a blueberry muffin ice cream

Red Lobster serving lobster and Cheddar Bay waffles for limited time

Red Lobster is getting in on the brunch trend with it’s own spin on chicken and waffles.

The seafood restaurant chain, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, announced Monday that lobster and waffles are on its menu for a limited amount of time.

>> Read more trending news 

PopSugar reported that the sweet and savory dish contains fried lobster tail and can be drizzled with maple syrup.

Instead of the usual waffle batter, Red Lobster is making the batter from its famous cheddar bay biscuit mix, USA Today reported.

According to USA Today, the menu item, part of the chain’s Lobsterfest menu, has an average price of $19.99.

Other items that are part of Lobsterfest include lobster truffle mac and cheese and dueling lobster tails.

Grilling meat could raise your risk of high blood pressure, study says

Grill lovers beware. Before you fire up the grill, a new report says that barbecue may increase your risk of high blood pressure.

Researchers from the American Heart Association presented a report Wednesday that explored whether foods cooked at high temperatures affect blood pressure. 

To do so, they examined more than 100,000 people from various long-term health studies. Researchers gathered information about the individuals’ cooking methods and the development of high blood pressure among those who regularly ate beef, poultry or fish. 

>> Read more trending news 

After analyzing the results, researchers found that none of the participants had high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer at the start of the program. About 37,000 of them had developed high blood pressure during the followup 12 to 16 years later.

When the scientists took a closer look, they discovered that those who reported eating two servings of red meat, chicken or fish a week were at higher risk for hypertension. 

The risk was 17 percent higher for people who grilled, broiled or roasted beef, chicken or fish more than 15 times a month, compared to those who did it less than four times a month. 

Related: How barbershops can help trim high blood pressure in black men

Furthermore, the risk was 15 percent higher for those who liked their meats well-done as opposed to rarer. High blood pressure risk was also higher for those estimated to have consumed the highest levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines, a chemical found on meats that are charred or exposed to high temperatures.

“The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” Gang Liu said in a Wednesday news release

“Our findings suggest that it may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure if you don’t eat these foods cooked well done and avoid the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling/barbequing and broiling.”

Find out more about the report at the American Heart Association website.

Dairy Queen giving away free vanilla cone Tuesday to celebrate spring 

After a rough winter, it’s time to celebrate the first day of spring with a treat.

>> Read more trending news

Dairy Queen’s website said various locations will be giving away free small vanilla ice cream cones Tuesday. The promotion is limited to one cone per person and will be honored at all non-mall locations, company officials said.

A list of participating locations can be found on Dairy Queen’s website.

Sonic will have pickle slushes on the menu this summer

Sonic Drive-In is bringing pickle juice to customers in its signature slush form.

Food & Wine reported that the drive-in restaurant chain will have pickle juice slushes on its menu this summer.

>> Read more trending news 

“Quite simply, pickle juice is fun,” Scott Uehlein, Sonic's vice president of product innovation and development, told Today in a statement. “Nothing says summer like a Sonic slush.”

According to Food & Wine writers who were able to taste the drink at Sonic’s Oklahoma City headquarters, the bright green treat is sweet and tangy. 

A Sonic team member told the publication that the syrup that makes the pickle slush can be added to anything once it’s on the menu, but it will be up to each franchise to decide if there is a charge for that.

Pickle juice slushes will be available to order at Sonic restaurants in June.

Allergic reaction to granola bar kills 12-year-old girl, family says

A Georgia family is in mourning after an allergic reaction to peanuts led to the death of a 12-year-old girl.

>> Watch the news report here

Amanda Huynh had been hospitalized before for allergic reactions to peanuts, but it's still surreal for her brother that she's gone.

"She meant a lot, to me, and i feel like she means a lot to the community," said her brother, Dillon Huynh.

The honor roll student at Lee Middle School in Coweta County was on her way home Tuesday on a school bus when she took a bite of a granola bar.

It was a snack that her family says she had eaten before.

"She would always check everything and make sure it was right," Dillon said.

>> Read more trending news 

But she started to feel sick and school officials were able to call 911 for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

Her brother shared pictures from her hospital bed where doctors told the family even if she woke up she would have permanent brain damage.

Amanda died Thursday, and her family held her funeral on Sunday.

The principal at Lee Middle School sent a letter to parents about how grief counselors will be at the school in the coming days.

Amanda's brother said he hopes her story will educate others about food allergies.

"(I want people to) live with her in their hearts and really know how serious this is," he said.

>> See a GoFundMe page for the family here

Auntie Anne's giving out free pretzels today to celebrate 30th birthday

In the mood for a yummy snack? You’re in luck, because Auntie Anne’s is giving away free pretzels to commemorate its 30th birthday.

The company announced the news this week, revealing that the big giveaway will happen Saturday, March 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at participating locations.

Last month, the brand promised to hand out the baked treat for no charge if 1 million people RSVP’d online for its “birthday party.” Within just a few days, it reached its goal.

Now today, customers can munch on one original or cinnamon sugar pretzel during the allotted time. They can also follow and share the fun using the hashtag #HBDAuntieAnnes. 

McDonald’s puts Disney back into Happy Meals

Remember when you were a kid and you’d get the latest Disney movie memorabilia in your Happy Meal?

The memory will now be back for the latest generation of Disney fans. 

This week, McDonald’s and the Walt Disney Company announced that they’re partnering once again to bring the magic back to the Happy Meal.

>> Read more trending news 

The deal will put toys and promotions from Walt Disney animated and live action movies, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilms back in the meals, according to a McDonald’s press release.

>>McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is back with an app

It will start with “Incredibles 2” which will be released on June 15, and continue with “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2” which will hit theaters in November.

In 2006, Disney had started linking the brand and characters with “more nutritionally balanced foods” and meals that promoted fruits, vegetables and whole grains while at the same time limiting calories, saturated fats, sugar and sodium levels, according to McDonald’s company officials.

Recently, McDonald’s announced adjustments in its products and now meets the guidelines including removal of artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets and making sure it’s serving chicken not treated with antibiotics.

>>No more cheeseburgers? McDonald’s to change classic Happy Meals

By June, all Happy Meals offered on the menus will meet Disney’s nutritional guidelines, McDonald’s company officials said.

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