This week, I reached out for a new Big IHOP Pancake Burger from America’s largest breakfast bar, IHOP, with 1,500 restaurants dotting all 50 states, plus a bunch more around the world. Remember last year when IHOP, for TV commercial purposes only, changed its name to IHOB to remind customers that it flips burgers, too?
Well, it worked. Stupid is as stupid does. IHOP’s burger sales quadrupled during the inane promotion, and burger sales are still twice what they used to be.
Now, IHOP is doubling down on burgers with a new push, with three new burgers on its menu: the Big IHOP Pancake Burger, the Garlic Butter Burger, and Loaded Philly Cheesesteak Burger. The Pancake Burger is funniest, so here we go:
Here’s the Big IHOP Pancake Burger breakdown: one buttermilk pancake stuck between two premium steakburger patties, each topped with a slice of American cheese, 3 strips of hickory smoked bacon, and IHOP sauce on a toasted bun. Served with your choice of sides.
Because this is a new item, IHOP doesn’t list its nutritional numbers, but let's just add one pancake to IHOP’s good ol’ double meat Mega Burger, and we’ll be darn close. Total calories: 1,210. Fat grams: 86. Sodium: 2,560 mg. Carbs: 61 g. Dietary fiber: 4. Protein: 59 g. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $10.99, served with unlimited fries.
I’ve been going to IHOP my whole life, but until last year’s IHOB publicity stunt, never ordered a burger there. In the immortal words of military hero Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise,” IHOP’s burgers are pretty darn good. The patties are thick and grilled to order, so they’re served hot and greasy … just right. And the meat is USDA choice Black Angus Beef, so the quality is there.
The item stirring the most noise on IHOB Part II is clearly the Pancake Burger, probably because the mainstream press considers it breakthrough sandwich technology. Guess my fellow members of the Fourth Estate haven’t been through a McDonald’s drive-thru lately and noticed something called the McGriddle?
That’s a typical sausage and egg breakfast sandwich, except instead of an English McMuffin, the Arches use waffles as bread.
The trouble with IHOP’s Pancake Burger is, IHOP didn’t carry the McGriddle brainstorm all the way through. McGriddle’s waffles are infused with maple syrup flavoring. The pancake in the middle of an IHOP Pancake Burger is just a plain buttermilk pancake.
Sure, we all love IHOP’s iconic buttermilk flapjacks, but we smother those cakes with butter and syrup. A pancake by itself is like a French fry without salt and ketchup: dull and practically tasteless.
If IHOP had spiked the middle pancake with a shot of maple syrup, then it’d be onto something really different and worth shouting from the mountaintop. As of now, it just conjures up a Big Mac, with a useless extra slice of carbs separating the good stuff.
IHOP’s other two new entries, the Garlic Butter Burger, made with authentic Gilroy garlic butter, and the Loaded Philly Burger, are more interesting, more flavorful, and less expensive.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter.