Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pancake Fuck Night: An IHOP Story

All you can eat pancakes for six measly bucks: IHOP had seduced us without even trying. When my friends Dunner, Matt and I learned of this yearly promotion (mid-January to mid-February), there was no pause at all to think of what was to come next.

Very soon, it would be pancake o’clock.

One thing didn’t sit right with us, though, because three dudes sitting at an IHOP for two hours binging on mid-grade pancakes was actually rather pathetic-looking. So, we took our favorite train of thought one-way express to crazyville, where only one conclusion came out to greet us. Three people might be pathetic, but thirty people is a party, don’t matter how you slice it. Within a minute of this promotion’s discovery, all you can eat was turned into all who could eat, and Pancake Fuck Night was born.

Now as we all know, IHOP is no place special. Most of the time I find myself there, it’s not because the restaurant fits just perfectly into my ideal night out. We were out to change that this time and with a group of twenty-eight people we made the half-mile march from my home - a noisy gaggle of sophomoric laughter which fell upon the IHOP with unrestrained enthusiasm, as we jokingly said that we planned to keep eating until the restaurant ran out of pancake mix, and we could demand a refund and coupons due to lack of service. Before long, three hours had passed, several hundred pancakes eaten, and everybody said their goodbyes and dispersed into the night. Dunner and Matt and I, the administrative element, was pleased with how the night had gone down. But we were playing the long game, and had already begun our discussion for the next year’s feast.

The year passed all too quickly, but we had the advantage of several months’ planning time, organization for Pancake Fuck Night II beginning three months in advance. To our surprise, the second night was twice the party of the first one in literally every way: Our attendance doubled to sixty-two people. Over the course of four hours, we racked up a bill of almost five hundred dollars, ate four hundred and fifty pancakes, weaponized over a thousand packets of salt and pepper, and generally raised all kinds of hell. Thankfully though, we were in possession of a coupon for 20% off the entire bill, saving us over fifty dollars in what was agreed by all in attendance as a marvelous dick move against the restaurant.

In the aftermath, I began to wonder if there was any way to top our second year’s event. There are only so many people we all knew to invite, and 2009 had scraped the bottom of the barrel for attendees. But unbeknownst to us a very powerful ally was coming to life behind the scenes as our tremendous group broke off and went back home. The power of local legend.

Two months ago, I made the announcement for Pancake Fuck Night III, with the modest goal in mind of increasing attendance by half: ninety people or bust I said. What I wasn’t aware of was that two years of raiding IHOP gets people talking. In the months since, our simple gatherings had become the sort of thing one could make his friends feel like a fool for missing. “You’re doing another pancake night?!” a friend wrote to me right after my announcement was sent across the width and breadth of the Facebook, “I’m SO in! No way I’ll miss this!” she finished.

It wasn’t long before people began inviting their friends, and their friends’ friends, and the original goal of ninety people that I thought to be lofty was met and trumped in a mere three days. I should have thought something was up right then, but it never occurred to me how quickly something can snowball.

So now, some sixty days after planning began, the Pancake Fuck Night III Facebook event has four hundred and fifty confirmed guests, with another four hundred righty-nine maybes. We’re scratching at a thousand people now, almost five times the legal number of people that IHOP can hold. I’m shocked and amazed, absolutely taken aback by the scope of the beast that my two friends and I unknowingly begot only three years ago. This will undoubtedly be the most titanic event any of us have ever organized, and the planning will be a frustrating, long process. But if we can pull this off, if we can get a thousand people into that restaurant over the course of a day, we might actually accomplish our jackass objective from the first year’s night, and run that IHOP’s pancake vault straight into the ground.

For anyone and everyone interested in attending Pancake Fuck Night III, please see the information for the event here, at the Pancake Fuck Night III Facebook page

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