I love IHOP.
Once christened the International House of Pancakes, a change of branding and marketing in the early part of this decade revitalized the struggling restaurant chain and brought with it one of the most surprising turnarounds the restaurant industry has ever seen.
Gone are the various flags etched into the partitions between booths, the stoic serif font of the logotype. Replaced with a more cozy and modern interior look and a bulbous sans-serfif font: IHOP. One could almost forget what it originally stood for, though I won't.
(Here's the clip that inspired this post. Warning: Satire)
The famous blue roof is an icon; a lighthouse to the road-weary traveller looking for a place to eat where there's a carpet, soft lighting and a predictable atmosphere.
And then there is Denny's. A rancid red-on-yellow sign points the way, almost as if to say, "Look. You're not going to do better." The food at Denny's is mediocre, there's no doubt of that. It's something intangible though, a feeling I get more than any objective "score". The food is simply substance, necessary to go on living (though not a particularly pleasant life for a few hours afterwards), whereas at IHOP, the food is a meal to be shared and experienced.
When we were in high school, the localest Denny's for a time hosted most of our little get-togethers, being one of the few 24-hour places around. Which gave rise to our own personal slogan of "You don't go to Denny's. You end up there."
And it's true. I've never left my house in an earnest attempt to find a Denny's and eat there. It's simply a product of elimination. What's open near where we are?
And trust me. NEVER order the Moons Over My-Hammy.