Today was somewhat of a repeat. If you recall, we celebrated National Pancake Day back on September 26th. I made a Dutch Pancake in the oven which was visually impressive, but still not the same as a good old fashioned short stack of pancakes. January 28th was also National Blueberry Pancake Day and that was a day we celebrated with your regular pancakes, just with some nice ripe blueberries mixed in. Apparently pancakes require a lot of celebration, and I can’t argue with that. However the reason we were celebrating pancakes today finds the answer in a very mysterious place of international intrigue sometimes decorated with an A-frame roof. That answer was the IHOP, the International House of Pancakes.
In 2006, IHOP, arguably the most famous house of pancakes in the entire world, decided to celebrate their most popular menu item and at the same time, help benefit their many communities. That was a noble idea so they launched their National Pancake Day campaign which meant any customer could come in on Pancake Day and get a complimentary short stack of pancakes. In turn, all guest are asked to donate to their charity partners, which for this year was the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Shriners Hospitals for Children. Since they began in 2006, they have raised over $24 million for charities just by giving out free pancakes. Well done IHOP! Well done indeed. I still don’t know why they selected March 7th to celebrate (the day changes yearly, probably to ensure it falls on a Tuesday or slower day of the week). The other Pancake Day on September 26th began in 2005 having more to do with lumberjacks, so the IHOP pancake day probably took off while the September pancake day was still trying to find its footings. In terms of celebrating though, today’s Pancake Day was all about the IHOP, so I jumped in my car and went down the road to get a short stack.
I decided to go at around 3:30. This was a strategic move because I know that this time is historically a slow time in any restaurant and I wanted to avoid the crowds. I was flying solo, so I just wanted to get in and out. I’m sure they would have been busy for lunch – free food will do that – and I knew that after 4 pm, the early birds would be migrating in, so I figured I had the timing down. To my surprise, they were still busy. There was no wait or anything like that, but most of the tables were full and food was flying out the kitchen. The restaurant was fully staffed too, even at this odd time of day, so kudos to the manager for being prepared. The staff was no nonsense, obviously they had seen things, bad things, over the lunch rush. I sat down, ordered my beverage, and then the server told me about the deal. It was kind of a spiel that she had undoubtedly said a hundred times that day, but there was no attitude. She was still really pleasant. She was explaining some options for other offers, but she kind of knew that I was going to order pancakes. That’s why I was there. I did order a side of sausage too, just to bump up the bill a little. That must be a tough day to work. The table that sat next to me was three teenagers who all ordered water and free pancakes. That’s a rough day for someone working for tips. But again, the staff attitude throughout could not have been better. It was kind of impressive.
My pancakes came out pretty fast. The cooks must not even be paying attention to the orders coming in on a day like this. They probably just make sure their grill is filled with cooking pancakes at all times. It would be the only way to keep pace with the orders. The stack came with a beautiful little dollop of butter on top. You can’t deny that IHOP makes a great pancake. I drenched it with regular syrup, and was ready to partake.
A short stack is actually the perfect amount of pancakes. A bigger stack gets to be too much, so halfway into it you are running out of syrup and desire. A short stack is just right and IHOP gets it right every time, as you would hope they would. If you look at the menu, they are really trying hard to broaden their offerings. They were pushing a cheeseburger burrito in one of the tabletop table tents, which is a far cry from a pancake. But you also can’t beat their pancakes so it must be hard to get other meals to catch on. I have been to this IHOP one other time. It was a morning and my car was being serviced across the road. I waited at the IHOP hoping they would have wifi so I could do some work and have some breakfast. I recall the omelette was delicious although the wifi was sketchy. There is an IHOP in Portsmouth, NH too that Lola and I would sometimes go to when we were out on a mini movie marathon, so they do bring back some nice memories. I’m sure there are some dark IHOP memories too, maybe being there after the bars closed or waiting for hours in the lobby on a Sunday brunch, but I’m going to say most of my IHOP experiences have been ok. Today’s was no exception.
I wolfed this down (I eat fast when I am by myself – not intentionally, but it just happens that way). The server gave me the check and I was out the door. I was probably in and out within twenty minutes. I left a good tip because they deserve it. The servers didn’t sign up for free pancake day. As far as the charity part, the Kiwanis were supposed to be there collecting money, but I didn’t see anyone. I saw two teenagers approach a couple of tables about something which could have been the charity pitch, but no one talked to me. There was no one at the door or in the foyer collecting money either, so I just left. That seems to be a flaw in their plan. Maybe it was just hard for the Kiwanis to get a volunteer there at that time of day and I just slipped through the cracks. I felt kind of bad for not being part of the charitable end of this promotion so when I got home, I donated online to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Heading home at 4 pm, I was in a near breakfast coma state. Really, what is it about breakfast that makes you want to curl up in a ball and sleep the rest of the day away? When I got home, I took a spot on the couch and just moaned for about an hour. Not really, but I felt so full I knew I wouldn’t be having dinner that night. Luckily I had made some chicken on Monday that I could reheat for Lola, and when she was ready to eat, I actually made her a nice little dinner. I was still too full. When it got to be later in the night, around 8:30 pM, I finally started to feel a bit peckish, but I wasn’t ready for a big chicken dinner. No, I just needed a little some-some. That’s when I remembered that today celebrated another holiday: National Cereal Day.
These were my choices. Not the healthiest of choices but these are kind of our emergency supply of cereals. They are in our cupboard in case we wake up with a dire craving. Lola actually gets the cereal cravings. I’ve woken up on a few occasions to hear her munching away in the middle of the night. I like keeping a variety on hand too because why limit yourself to one flavor? These little prepackaged cups are ideal. You just pour the milk right in and you are good to go. They are now starting to come in more and more flavors. I know the old variety pack of little boxes of cereals supposedly offered the same variety and you could open the box a certain way so that you could eat the cereal from the tiny box. That never worked out smoothly however. This is a good innovation in the cereal world.
I went with the Raisin Bran Crunch. I felt like I would enjoy the crunch part of the cereal over the other varieties (and let’s be honest, a little bran in the diet never hurt anyone). I know I celebrated Raisin Bran before, but today’s celebration of Cereal Day also celebrated the element of choice in cereals. So many varieties, so many options. Celebrating cereal is about picking the one you want, and tonight I wanted Raisin Bran. That’s how it goes. It was the perfect ending to my day too. Nice cold milk, great crunch, plenty of plump raisins and the prefect portion. I even drank the milk at the end, not something I usually do with my cereal.
Today ended up being pretty heavy on the breakfast foods, which is never a complaint from me. In fact, if breakfast found its way into more of our meals, I’d be happier. Today I joined a nationwide celebration of the pancake hosted by a champion of pancake making. I took their offer of a free short stack and I put my pancake money towards helping a local hospital. That’s a pretty nice exchange, especially when I still get to fill my belly with fried cake drenched in syrup. I also got to go to our secret cereal supply and take my pick, kind of like it was my birthday and I could have whatever cereal I wanted. That was the perfect end to the day. Put that together and I really celebrated this day! So cheers to pancakes, to those who make pancakes, to those who sell pancakes and of course to cereal as well. You just made my day.
Next Up: National Peanut Cluster Day