The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is making headlines again — and not for another name-change stunt. This time, the pancake empire is under siege for sharing an image of a sonogram in honor of Mother's Day with a stack of pancakes inside the uterus instead of a baby.
"If you have pancakes in your tum tum, does that make you a pancake mum mum? Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the moms out there!" the famous restaurant chain tweeted Sunday.
Even though the IHOP tweet was obviously meant as a joke, some people were not laughing, with many users accusing the chain of being stupid at best or pernicious at worst. As noted by Fox News, the tweet sparked a massive firestorm on social media, earning "more than 1,000 retweets, 5,000 likes and nearly 3,000 replies."
"I feel comfortable enough in my medical training thus far to confirm that the uterus is NOT in fact connected to the GI tract," tweeted one user.
"IHOP really thinks people are just sliding whole stacks of pancakes down their throat and into their uterus," tweeted another.
"And @IHOP weighs into the most controversial space in American politics in the last 50 years," said Molly Jong-Fast.
IHOP has not issued any statement of apology or explanation for the tweet.
While indeed a silly (borderline sophomoric) joke, exactly why the tweet sparked such controversy has not yet been fully explained. At this point, the most consistent critique is the tweet's ignorance of human anatomy, of which it seemed rather self-aware. Here was Jezebel's take-down of it:
The tweet could be viewed as a public health alert for those of us who have been enjoying pancakes unprotected for years, often after unlimited mimosa binges, without realizing the risk of unplanned pregnancy. However, the biology of pancake impregnation is still a bit mysterious. While my abstinence-only sex education was imperfect, I do seem to remember learning the oral stuff was generally a way to avoid this situation, yet IHOP seems to be suggesting that pancake copulation follows different rules and thus might require different protection. Is it just the raw batter we need to look out for or do we need put condoms on our short stacks? What’s the gestation period? How does the pat of butter get in there?
Great job IHOP. Can’t wait for the Father’s Day follow-up tweet featuring syrup jizz.
The International House of Pancakes has not been able to catch a break on social media lately, something its top competitor (Denny's) can't be too upset about. Last year, the pancake chain sparked mockery when it announced that it would be changing its name to International House of Burgers, thus creating the acronym IHOB. After enough backlash on social media, the restaurant chain reversed course.
The move was largely seen as a marketing stunt to bolster the brand. As reported by USA Today at the time, the rebranding effort helped very little.
"Data from polling firm YouGov shows the rebranding effort has not created a significant increase in IHOP’s purchase consideration, which measures the likelihood of consumers eating at a particular restaurant chain," reported the outlet. "YouGov, which tracks the perception of more than 1,500 brands daily through its BrandIndex, found that IHOP's purchase consideration score has remained consistent throughout the first half of 2018, ‘swinging mostly between 20% and 30%.’"