National Pancake Day

I’m bad at groceries. I don’t keep an updated list, and often forget the list when I go shopping. One thing that seems to elude me is pancakes. I continually forget to put pancake batter on the shopping list. Not that it would do much good. I’d probably forget the list anyway.

So when I saw someone mention National Pancake Day on Twitter over the weekend, I planned for it. The restaurant chain IHOP promotes this as a charitable event, with funds raised today going to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals charity. IHOP provides a free short stack1 of pancakes, and then asks for a donation when paying the bill.

I showed my face to crowded pancake house around nine this morning with my mother in tow. Along with the usual snowbird2 breakfast rush was quite a few families that came in for the promotion. The restaurant planned for a large breakfast rush. We were seated after just a short wait. After asking about coffee, our waiter came back with coffees, the insulated pot, a tray of creamer, and waters.

This was convenient, and sped up the usual way of ordering where they ask if any flavored creamers are wanted and don’t bring water unless it’s a specific request.3 Even the hostess who led us to the table asked “Do you need a menu, or just getting pancakes?” I opted with a side of ham to go with the pancakes, and they were promptly delivered.

The normal IHOP pancakes are about 8” in diameter. I don’t usually eat all of one if it’s on the side of a normal breakfast. Today’s short stack was a little smaller (6”) but having three of them plus ham was more than enough. The maple syrup was on the side in a small portion cup. I ask about this, and the waitress who delivered the plates said they planned for the pancake rush. Apparently there were about 300 filled portion cups being kept warm in the kitchen!

Shrove Tuesday

Once home, I had a curious. Was there something else to this promotion besides IHOP’s fundraising? What prompted them to choose March 3rd as the day?

A quick check of Wikipedia found that Shrove Tuesday is pancake-related holiday. It’s otherwise known as Fat Tuesday or the feast before Ash Wednesday. Which was two weeks ago.

As a moveable feast based on Easter, Shrove Tuesdays can happen on any Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th. My best guess is that March 3rd was chosen because it’s the last possible Tuesday in that timeframe. With a fixed date it can be standardized on corporate calendars and yearly plans made around it.

In the classic American commercial fashion, National Pancake Day now has no relation Shrove Tuesday. It just free pancakes. And I’m ok with that.

  1. This would be three pancakes.
  2. The best part about the snowbird Wikipedia pages is the reference to “seasonal human migration.”
  3. A consequence of living in a perpetual drought.