As my legion of faithful readers knows, I am very concerned about what America is doing to poor, innocent pancakes.
Until recently, it had not occurred to me that the largest threat in the Pancake Axis of Evil would be The International House of Pancakes (a.k.a iHOP, as if we wouldn't see through their disguise.) My naivete was due, in part, to the fact that I don't ever eat there. Why would I go to a crowded, plastic-coated, weirdly-shaped place with embarrassing dish names when I can get my pancake needs satisfied here? Or here? Or, dare I say it, at home?
It sort of surprised me a couple of weeks ago when my son woke up on a Saturday and informed us that we would be going to iHOP for breakfast. I didn't even know it was on his radar, since we never go there. My mom and dad thought it would be harmless enough -- perhaps even a nice change from the usual, high-quality restaurants we frequent, so we got ourselves in the car and drove to the nearest fake Swiss chateau, or whatever it's supposed to look like.
Inside, I got my first inkling of the horror that was to come. First of all, at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday, there was no wait. Every other breakfast place in San Diego always has a line out the door at that time on a weekend.
When I got into the tiny lobby, my son pointed to a poster bearing images of characters from Horton Hears a Who around this startling item:
"Oh my God, what is that?" I exclaimed. "It's what I want for breakfast," my son explained.
Indeed, iHOP has invented Who-cakes in a cross-marketing campaign for the recent movie version of Horton Hears a Who. What they are is a stack of about six pancakes covered in not-found-in-nature pink and blue sauce with candy sprinkled all over and a lollipop stuck in the center. For children. For breakfast.
Now, I'm not super vigilant about my son's diet. I try to make sure he has a fairly good balance of veggies and pasta and proteins and such, but I let him have cookies and candy, and I indulge him with milkshakes and pie for dessert, probably more often than I should. But this particular monstrosity really tested my limits. In the end, I let him order the Who-cakes.
My son ate approximately one bite of one of the less-sauce-covered cakes, and declared himself finished and asked for some of my veggie omelet. I asked how he liked the Who-cakes, and he declared them "kinda maybe yucky." Unfortunately, so was the omelet, though it wasn't as much of an assault on the eyes.
So, sense prevails, even in six-year-olds. They may be taken in by advertising, but they will figure it out when something is just not good.
Finally, in another terrible strike against pancakes, our waiter revealed that the iHOP does not stock real maple syrup. What the hell?