After a week of suspense, IHOP — now temporarily known as IHOb — bid farewell to its 60-year-old pancake legacy when it finally revealed the word behind its mystery consonant switch on Monday. While some trending guesses included bacon, breakfast and even bankruptcy, the restaurant chain announced it was now the International House of Burgers. Despite the flapjack furor on Twitter, most New Yorkers were at most underwhelmed or moderately amused with the new branding.
Many customers at the IHOb on East 14th Street, like 30-year-old Nick Flatto, were simply unaware of the name change. “I didn’t even notice until I looked at the poster outside,” the native New Yorker said. “I think pancakes might be a dying trend, which is why IHOP is trying to take the burger route instead. But to me, it’ll always be the International House of Pancakes. I don’t think they can compete with places like Burger King. It’s a gimmick that’s not going to last.”
Burger chains like Burger King shot back at the pancake purveyor, changing its logo and name on Twitter to Pancake King. Wendy’s tweeted “Remember when you were like 7 and thought changing your name to Thunder BearSword would be super cool? Like that, but our cheeseburgers are still better.”
For diners who pursued the pancake trail on Twitter, most found no choice but to satisfy their sheer curiosity and succumb to IHOb’s witty marketing. Shirley Wu, 21, who said she only ventures out to the pancake house twice a year, came to lunch to try the Jalapeño Kick Burger — a steakburger stuffed with sautéed jalapeños, hickory-smoked bacon and other tangy toppings.
“I walked in not going to get a burger, but I felt like I had to at least give it a try,” Wu said, “I came here for the sole reason of their marketing scheme. They got me!” When asked if she would choose burgers or pancakes next time, Wu replied, “omelets.”
While those who had given the pancake-turned-burger chain a chance were amused by the novelty, most said they would not order it again.
“When I found out that I could order my bacon cheeseburger with pancakes on the side, I knew I had to get it,” Michael Webb, 21, said. “It was interesting, but I’m going back to my usual stuffed French toast next time.”
Webb added that while the burger itself wasn’t exquisite, the marketing idea was commendable.
“It’s stupid, but that’s why it totally works, and someone deserves to get paid for the idea.”