I Will Invent A Conspiracy Theory

This week’s news that IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, is changing its name to IHOB, the International House of Burgers, has struck many people as a monumentally stupid piece of rebranding.

Other burger chains trolled IHOP on Twitter, and social media buzzed with everyone’s hot take on it all.

Well, here’s mine – I think they’re trying to pull a New Coke on us.

If you’re not familiar with the New Coke conspiracy theory (to which I am a believer), Coke wanted to save money back in the early 80s by switching from the rising costs of cane sugar to the cheaper price of corn syrup to use as the sweetener in coke.

But as all of us who prefer Mexican Coke know, Coke made with cane sugar tastes different – slightly less sweet, slightly less syrupy.

If they switch sweeteners on Coke and do nothing else, they’ll ALREADY have a “New” Coke out there they’ll have to defend… I’m sure taste tests responding to the success of the Pepsi Challenge ads of the day told them that people noticed the difference in their oh-so-special formula, one that supposedly NO ONE could ever copy… so if people could taste a difference, they’d be destroying their own brand.

Destroy your brand, or pay through the nose for sugar forever?

OR – a clever con job! Formulate a FAKE New Coke that tastes like flat Pepsi, take sugar-Coke off the market and ONLY sell the Fake New Coke for just a few months, until peoples’ palates forget and the shelves are clear of the old stock.

THEN when your Fake New Coke inevitably bombs, make a big deal of a supposed “apology,” bring back what you tell people is the Old Coke they remember with a load of hoopla – only this time with the corn syrup – and everyone will be GLAD to have their “old” Coke back, and that they beat a big corporation, and that the big corporation listened to them, and all the free publicity as sales go right back up and keep going….all the while people not realizing that the formula has been switched after all.


Look closely on the grassy knoll in the Zapruder film… you’ll see that Coke bottle.

Bill Cosby drugged us all into believing it, too!

Anyway, whether or not the New Coke Conspiracy Theory is true, it’s well known enough that I think IHOP is trying the same thing.

IHOPs main competition, Denny’s, has been kicking its ass for the past few years. Denny’s revenues and earnings are steadily rising at a decent clip, with a nice jump recently in the past quarter, up an impressive 25%. Their stock is up a whopping 50% in the past year – think about that, the value of that company has grown by one half – have they – in one year? – added 50% more restaurants out there?

Where the FUCK would they put them? On top of the Denny’s that are ALREADY there, at every god damn highway stop in existence?

Nope – it’s same store sales that are up. And NOT just at breakfast, but throughout the day.

IHOP’s company, Dine Equity, also owns Appleby’s. Their stock, revenues, and earnings have tanked in the past three years, off about 20-25% from their peak. And lately the stock has a head and shoulders chart pattern, which often bodes badly.

IHOPs weakness has ALWAYS been their non-breakfast menu. So how do you compete with Denny’s?

Rebrand yourself as the lunch/dinner place via the “burger” ruse, get a lot of publicity… and get people to defend your pancakes.

Look online at how many “Who makes better pancakes, IHOP or Denny’s?” crapola there is.

Get people to defend your pancakes. That’s what this is ALL about.

Got pancakes in your name? CHANGE IT.

Oh, but not too expensively – just FLIP A LETTER IN YOUR EXISTING SIGNS AND LOGOS.

Think how easy it’ll be to flip it back in several months if I’m right and it’s “Here’s your old Coke!” all over again, and they look for the breakfast and pancake biz to go up as more people jump on Team IHOP and off the Denny’s train.

I’m not emotional about this (despite my clear insanity, thanks), I really could give a shit. I usually look for mom & pop type diners to find really good pancakes. I miss one in Burbank called Barron’s that burned down many years ago and never reopened.

To be honest, I’m fine with breakfast in either IHOP or Denny’s although I must admit, I’d never think of IHOP for anything BUT breakfast, and that’s what I think they’re trying to change.

I just wanna see if I wind up being right about this.


To paraphrase Frank Gorshin as The Riddler: EVERY CYNICAL BONE IN MY BODY WILL CRY HUZZAH! HUZZAH!


<– Bonus points if you recognize this guy.


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