Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is there a doctor in the pancake house?

The International House of Pancakes, not known for epic storytelling in their advertising, has disgorged a shockingly complex :15 spot. It's a tale of suspense, disappointment, elation, sumptuous climax, and denouement with a surprising medical twist. Take a look:

Setting: A doctor's waiting room.

Well, I'm hungry. Big beige room, dull, forgettable corporate art on the walls, medical journals strewn about, graphic anatomy posters. Man, you know what sounds good right now? French toast and a side of hash browns.

Nurse: Desmond!

Desmond and People in Waiting Room: (hold up forks)

It's like Paula Deen guest-directed an episode of ER. Obviously, this scene is unspeakably stupid. But the strangest thing to me is, why does everyone get excited when the nurse calls out Desmond's name? They're all hoping the nurse confuses them with Desmond?

Nurse: - the doctor will see you now.

Ahh, okay. The pancake doctor. Making more sense now.

Announcer: It's Fruit Crepe Fever.

People suffering from fruit crepe fever have come to the IHOP Clinic to see the waffle doctor. That is the concept of this commercial. Read it one more time. That is the motherhumping concept of this commercial. Think of all the people who had to see this ad before it saw air time -- ad agency people, IHOP people, film production people, actors, actresses, Desmond, media buying people, lawyers, general pancake practitioners. No one, not even a quality control person, said "Wait a second, this commercial is like Luis Bunuel-absurd" or "This makes me embarrassed to be alive" or "People will sue IHOP when their eyes fall out after watching this."

NOTE: For purposes of this close-reading of IHOP's ad, I'm ignoring the mispronunciation of "crepe." CRAPE is, sadly, the accepted Americanized way to pronounce "crepe," as seen, for instance, in the GE Cafe Range "webisode," so I'm not going to bother harping on it.

Announcer: Sweet cream cheese, luscious fruit and delectable crepes

It bothers me when ads editorialize like this, especially food ads. Why can't you say "Cream cheese, fruit and golden crepes" or something less salesman-like? The audience can ascertain that the fruit is luscious and the crepes delectable from your presentation of them in the video. Just be sensible, and let your viewers think for themselves for a while...

Aw, fuck it --

"Jaw-droppingly delicious, extra-thick creamy cream cheese, tongue-strokingly flavorful, mouth-gushing, ambrosia-like fruit, all wrapped up in a bacchanalian, syrup-drunk, tooth-ramming crepe orgy."

Announcer: Served with all your favorites, only at IHOP. (Desmond's temperature is checked by the IHOP waitress/doctor and nurse.)

So this man's medical treatment by the aforementioned "doctor" is a pile of fruit and cream cheese crepes, a breakfast plate of hash browns, eggs, and three kinds of meat (bacon, ham and sausage), a pot of coffee, a jug of OJ, and a pitcher of water, presumably all to himself. Doesn't it go beyond just stupid to downright wrong to even suggest that a trip to IHOP might be medically beneficial? I probably don't need to convince you that that meal is a coronary, and that's a good thing -- because I have no nutritional info. For some reason, fast food companies are required to post things like fat, calories and the like for all of their products, but a company that claims it serves 700 million pancakes a year gets a free nutritional pass. Here I quote from

» Is nutritional information available?

IHOP offers a wide variety of food that should allow most people to choose a meal that suits their dietary needs. We do not maintain nutritional data on our food.

That is not right.

From what I can gather on other diet sites, one 2oz crepe, with no butter, syrup, sweet cream chesse or luscious fruit is 120 calories and 6 grams of fat. Now add in the other ingredients. Now multiply it by three. Now combine that with all the other food and drink they showed on Desmond's table. Now vomit.

There exist people out there in America who lack the resources to know how bad that meal is for them, because IHOP won't tell anyone. Because they do not maintain nutritional data on their food.

"Dear Acme Poison Co., is safety information available?"

"Acme Poison Co. offers a wide variety of poison that should allow most people to choose a poison that suits their safety needs. We do not maintain safety data on our poison."

Announcer: Come hungry, leave happy.

And remember, folks: a cream-filled pancake drenched-in-sugar a day keeps the doctor away!


Windier E. Megatons said...

It's always bothered me that casual dining establishments are not under more pressure to release nutritional information, especially when it is required on all grocery products and has been implemented at virtually every fast food chain (with the exception of notable holdout Quizno's), and especially given the size of the portions at most casual dining places. I realize there's probably a limit to how much pressure you can put on corporations, and certainly personal responsibility comes into it at some point, but if you're going to make McDonald's and Frito-Lay do it, why should IHOP and Denny's get a free pass?

Tyler said...

For a while, Panda Express was not all that forthcoming about nutritional info, but now they make it available.

If you have to hide it, it must not be good for you.

Andrew N.P. said...

Maybe it's just me, but if I walked into a room and everyone suddenly brandished forks at me, I'd at least flinch. I can only wonder how long it took that nurse to be come desensitized to the horrors of Fruit Crêpe Fever.

c12h22o11 said...