Around my house, there were some tense moments when the International House of Pancakes, IHOP to most of the planet, decided to change its name. This was where I learned, as a child, to love Pigs in a Blanket. Though I have never been a huge fan of breakfast food in general, this cartoonish fare was well suited for kid with a rather visceral imagination. When the announcement came down on Al Gore's Internet last week that there was to be a change in the way we would refer to the establishment that made it okay to sample a dozen different flavors of syrup on two pancakes, my wife and I began to conjecture. Her first guess was International House of Brunch.
I felt this was a savvy move, appealing to the millennials who enjoy their egg white omelettes and their skillet fried potatoes. I went with the much less inspired International House of Breakfast. This would be playing it safe, and would require little if any change in menu or branding. What I didn't say at the time was "International House of Bunnies."
Many years ago, on a Spring Break trip down to southern California, we stopped in San Luis Obispo for breakfast on Easter Sunday. It was a stroke of luck that we happened to spot the sign as we got of the exit: IHOP. What better place to land on Easter? My son was still young enough to believe that this was the sort of magic that happened on the day that a giant rabbit deposited colored eggs and chocolate treats in barely discrete hiding places.
As luck and time would have it, my son ended up attending college just up the street from that restaurant, and eventually got himself a job at the Best Buy across the parking lot from that IHOP. A year ago we all sat down and had breakfast together on Easter before he had to rush off to sell televisions. Some of the magic was gone, but it was a point of reference.
Now they've gone and changed the sign. And the focus. They have traded their pancakes for burgers. The International House of Pancakes has always served a wider menu, but their focus has shifted to the lunch crowd. I am sure it has to do with finding a way to drag more people in the doors rather than waiting for the breakfast crowd to hang around long enough to try page three and four of the laminated picture book from which orders can be made.
Trouble is, IHOB isn't fun. IHOP was fun. It could be conjugated: Ihop, wehop, theyhop, youhop. Just exactly how does one Hob? I wish them good luck, and I can imagine scenarios in which I find myself wandering in to sample their signature burger. Or maybe I'll see if they can't rustle me up just one more order of pigs in a blanket.