I think we're in some sort of agreement here. As I touched on my original comment, depending on the severity of the crunch, I will ask for (yes I was in middle management, blech) and offer days off. I agree that a lunch, no matter how nice it is, is no replacement for a 3 month death march. What you're latching onto are what I use for minor, not more than a few days things.
Though its usually a nightmare for me to work this out with HR, days off to me can mean actual vacation time which to me, is more precious than cash. It can also mean time doing cool stuff, or as the late Steven Covey would put it, time to spend "sharpening the axe" like making a presentation on the latest version of FizzBangWow product/language/framework, trips to conferences. I've even had devs prefer to work on clearing out technical debt. That's craft.