I Went to IHOP and Tried the New IHOb Burgers (It Was a Shocking Experience)
You think there was fanfare? Think again.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It was the excitement that drove me there.
Once IHOP had declared that it was changing its name to IHOb, I was mesmerized by the daring and ready to be dazzled.
I should start with a confession. I've never been to an IHOP. Ever.
This, then, would be taking several steps into an unknown, one the whole world was discussing even more than the meeting of two bolshy burghers in Singapore.
First, The Shock. Or, Rather, The First Shock.
IHOP really isn't changing its name to IHOb.
This Bay Area IHOP was steadfastly an IHOP.
Change its logo? This place hadn't changed anything for what looked like 15 years.
It was a dowdy building with darkened windows, the sort of building that private detectives walk into and are never seen emerging from.
There was nothing in or on those windows that mentioned the new burgers.
Still, I tiptoed inside, wondering what I would find.
The inside was even darker and dingier than the outside.
There was just one server and one cook. Neither seemed pleased to see me.
I wondered which one had the machine gun.
I was led over to a booth. Well, there were only four people in there and they were all seated together.
None of them ordered the burger. Was the IHOb marketing campaign a disaster? Or was 7 p.m. simply the wrong time to visit an IHOP?
I sat down, looked to my left and found the first mention of IHOb. It was on a little ad, perched on the table.
IHOb, it said, meant burgers, burgers, burgers. The Ultimate Steakburgers, burgers, burgers to be precise.
The server handed me the menu. It was newly printed and newly laminated. What would this thing look like in a few weeks' time? Like the rest of the restaurant, I imagine.
I looked down the list of seven burgers.
They all seemed to hover around the 800 calories mark. Add fries to that and you're in danger of IHObbling.
Helpfully, there was a little bubble next to the burger section on the menu.
It read: Yum! Pancakes now available as a side.
It might as well have read: Yum! Who needs euthanasia when you've got pancakes with your burger and fries?!
There was only one thing I could order: The Classic Burger.
It's like going to an Italian restaurant. If they can't cook basic spaghetti, you should never go there again.
So I ordered my Classic and fries and asked for a beer.
This was a patently silly thing to do, as IHOP doesn't serve alcohol. Neither, sadly, does IHOb.
I settled for lemonade and waited.
It took a good 15 minutes for my burger to arrive, which at least suggested it wasn't some old slab of meat being reheated.
When it arrived, it had a surprisingly modest mien. It sat there on the plate with the fries and seemed a touch shy.
I picked it up and examined it. Tomato, lettuce, a pickle, some onion and a peculiar orange sauce. Well, most burger sauces have a strange color, don't they?
The Second Shock.
The burger wasn't awful. Truly. It was perfectly tasty and, astoundingly, not especially greasy.
The patty at least resembled meat. The trimmings didn't reek of especial staleness.
The brioche bun was something of a surprise. It enjoyed a pleasing crispness and complemented the rest very well.
But then there were the fries.
Now they really did slither into my mouth and suggest that they'd been heated in some old fat.
The first element of the taste experience was paper, the remainder a very distant cousin of the potato. Or of the frog.
Minced frog, perhaps.
These fries were like a drunken inebriated uncle lying on the dance floor at a wedding, as the happy couple above him enjoy their first waltz.
The Final Shock.
I hadn't stopped to think how much an IHOP burger would cost.
My Classic was $6.99. However, some of the other versions demand a lot more of your salary.
The Mega Monster, for example, is $11.49. It seemingly differs from the Classic only in that it has two patties.
Will anyone really pay $12 for an IHOP burger?
Then again, had anyone even heard of IHOP burgers before the IHOb nonsense began?
I walked out of this IHOP and the sun was still, like IHOP itself, holding on.
I still wasn't sure whether I'd been welcome there.
As I turned on the ignition, the reason why suddenly struck me.
The server hadn't offered me dessert. Or even a pancake. He'd swiftly brought the check.
I tipped him, of course.