- IHOP’s All You Can Eat pancake deal is back and continuing until mid-February.
- This year, the promotion costs $3.99.
- While nonstop pancakes may sound like a dream come true, it ended up being our sugary nightmare.
We at Business Insider love a good bargain — especially when it comes to food.
So when we heard about IHOP’s All You Can Eat pancake promotion, we immediately began dreaming of syrupy stacks.
Little did we know, our flapjack fantasy would fall into pancake perdition.
Here’s what it’s like to spend five hours in a Manhattan IHOP — and why this delicious deal may not be as sweet as it seems.
We arrived at 10 a.m., ready to pile on the pancakes.
This 14th Street location is open 24 hours, which means that you could roll in at 3 a.m. and tackle the All You Can Eat challenge. The deal runs for the entire month of January, continuing into mid-February.
After our triumphant Shrimpsgiving at Red Lobster, we were feeling confident about this day. How could a day full of pancakes possibly go wrong?
We settle in and prepare to order.
While you can order just pancakes, the promotion offers five different combo plates to start. Kate decides on the egg combo, which comes with two eggs of your choice and a side of hash browns … plus infinite pancakes. Hollis chooses the sausage and egg combo, consisting of four sausage links, two eggs, and hash browns — and of course, pancakes galore.
Interestingly enough, ordering simply pancakes would cost $9.99, the same price as Hollis’ sausage combo, and a dollar more than Kate’s egg combo.
While perhaps this should have raised suspicions, we brushed it off and concocted a brash motto for the day: you stack ’em up, we knock ’em down.
While waiting for our order, we took in the scenery.
Above us was a rather eerie and foreboding image of a child dwarfed by an absurd totem of pancakes. It was interesting to say the least.
The soundtrack pumped us up with countless ’80s power ballads and anthems, and we felt like we could take on the world — or at least 10 pancakes.
Our friendly and attentive waitress told us that the most impressive All You Can Eat showcase she had personally witnessed was 10 flapjacks. However, the man who completed this astonishing feat “looked bad” by the end.
“What do you mean?” Kate asked with a hint of anxiety.
Still, as our first round of pancakes arrived, we were feeling as golden as a perfectly cooked buttermilk hotcake.
The first bite only buttressed our sunny optimism. The pancakes were fluffy but not overly dense or heavy. They come two at a time, with a hearty pad of butter crowning the stack.
As tempting as the combo items appeared, our strategy was to hold off for now and save room for the good stuff: pancakes. Nonetheless, Hollis struggled to control himself, involuntarily taking a few bites of sausage — which were, to be fair, delicious.
Kate had a game plan of her own to optimize pancake consumption.
She abstained from any syrup for the first four pancakes, relying solely on butter to accompany the carbo-bomb.
It seemed to pay off, and even sans syrup, the pancakes were delightful in their simplicity.
Combined pancake count: 4
We adroitly finished our first round and rapidly moved on to the second stack.
Our confidence levels were through the roof, and we even allowed ourselves a small nibble of hash browns to fight back any signs of flavor fatigue.
Toto’s “Africa” piped in, and we found ourselves singing along to this melodic classic and miming the drums. Spirits were high, but the pancakes were stacked higher.
But one concern appeared on the horizon: jaw exhaustion. The thick pancakes were beginning to wear at Hollis’ jaw muscles, slowing him down considerably. Could this be our Achilles heel? We pressed on, determined to persevere.
Pancake count: 8
Finally, on pancake five, Kate caved.
The syrup’s sticky siren song proved too much for her — and combined with a unusually thick pancake stack, trouble was brewing.
“Hotel California” brought an ominous warning to our ears: you can ask for the check, but you can never leave.
At this time, we note that eating is no longer fun.
Pancake count: 12
Knowing that variety is the spice of life, we decided to sample the array of syrups at our disposal.
In addition to the traditional syrup, IHOP also has blueberry, strawberry, and butter pecan flavors.
While they may appeal to children, the flavors are all aggressively sweet and rather unsettling to the more discerning palate.
Both fruit varieties taste like candy — sickly sweet and unabashedly artificial. The butter pecan just tastes like straight sugar.
Adding more syrups into the mix proved to be a wantonly destructive decision.
Our fourth round of pancakes was starting to knock us down. They were monstrously thick and dense, leading Hollis to lament, “We’re in the thick of it now.”
Simply bringing another forkful of pancake to our mouths became a nauseating, Sisyphean task.
Kate felt as though she had swallowed a pillow, and it showed on her face. Our deputy editor arrived and immediately feared for Kate’s health, telling her to feel free to tap out — as long as she made it to 10.
The soundtrack quickly mirrored our increasingly lethargic and desperate state of mind.
We greeted darkness as one would an old friend as “The Sound of Silence” played. The Beatles’ “Let It Be” spoke words of wisdom, daring us to surrender and leave this foolhardy challenge behind us. And “Eleanor Rigby” brought us to tears in the lonely and empty back of the IHOP, our half-eaten flapjacks growing cold on their syrup-soaked plates.
All the lonely pancakes, where do they all come from? Presumably, the kitchen via our lovely waitress, whom we had to ask for some time for reflection between this and the next round.
Pancake count: 14
“Pancake Madness” began to settle in with a vengeance, leading Kate to a rather unorthodox bout of creativity.
Using her hash browns as salty, savory levees, she created reservoirs of each syrup flavoring in an effort to dip her pancakes, hopefully avoiding the syrup-logged disaster plaguing Hollis’ plate.
However, dipping only furthered our hypothesis that syrup was a Faustian bargain. While strawberry has a certain je ne sais quoi, we recommend sticking to the original, if any at all.
At this point, something caught Kate’s attention.
“Did you hear that?” she asked. “I think my pancake just vibrated.”
Hollis had not heard.
He was too occupied with a more pressing concern.
Hollis had hit a wall. He had developed a thousand-pancake stare as his eighth pancake taunted him with a syrupy smirk.
Suddenly, after pancake seven, Kate experienced an unnatural second wind as “I Will Survive” blasted over the speakers. Between huge gulps of water, she demolished the eight pancake with a fervor that could only be described as unearthly.
Just what was in that seventh pancake that set off such a rebirth of appetite and will? Hollis was too stuffed to investigate further as he loosened his belt a few notches in order to bring some welcome relief.
Pancake count: 15
Water had become Hollis’ only lifeline in an increasingly dense and doughy trial of will.
Our waitress had warned us of drinking too much water, as it would fill our stomachs — but it was far too late now. Hollis had downed at least six glasses by then, using it to wash down stubborn bites.
Yet his will was not broken, despite his stomach being full. After a rather impressive Mel-Gibson-as-William-Wallace impression, he stabbed the pancake and brought it to his mouth, one slow, methodical bite at a time.
Almost four and a half hours after walking through the door of that fateful IHOP, Hollis finished his eighth — and final — flapjack.
Hollis’ battle was at an end.
Pancake count: 16
And yet the pancakes continued.
Kate was coming down from her unsettling pancake high. Our waitress brought us both a fifth round, but Kate was now alone in this breakfast blitzkrieg.
She managed to down one pancake sans syrup, and with only the slightest hint of butter. Out of sheer desperation, she began flattening each bite, in an attempt to “get rid of some air”. The fluffiness of the flapjacks had gone from a blessing to a curse.
We took a few minutes to taunt the GoPro camera, as we felt it was mocking our struggle through its cold and unblinking lens. The GoPro looked on, unmoved.
Pancake count: 17
Our journey came to an end; the sausages, eggs, and hash ultimately untouched.
Had we decided to partake in the combo items at the beginning, we may never have even reached eight between us. So if you’re in it for the glory, set the sausage aside.
We may have won the battle, but the pancakes won the war.
Kate managed to finish nine whole pancakes, while Hollis limped behind with eight. Yet it felt as though we had chugged a vat full of Bisquick. The pancakes sat heavy in our stomachs, weighing us down and affecting our gait as we stumbled groaning out of the IHOP and into the midday sun.
There was no sense of satisfaction at the end, compared to our triumphant conclusion of Shrimpsgiving. It was a Pyrrhic victory.
We knew the pancakes had won, and at what cost?
$18.98, before tax and tip.
This price tag illuminates perhaps the biggest problem with IHOP’s All You Can Eat pancakes: you could get as many pancakes as you could possibly want to eat for less money off the regular menu. For under $6, you can get a stack of five pancakes and an egg. No human needs to eat, or would enjoy eating, more than five pancakes.
IHOP has created a fairly enjoyable breakfast experience for patrons any time of the day or night. Their All You Can Eat promotion subverts this experience, taking the relaxed sense of joy and placing it in a pancake purgatory.
Everyone at IHOP was kind and supportive to us — we have only ourselves to blame. We flew too close to the hot griddle, as Icarus once did, and our fall was spectacular. We beg of you: learn from our mistakes, and enjoy your pancakes in a relaxed and non-competitive environment.
Such is the arrogance of man.
Final pancake count: 17