Sunday, July 08, 2007

I-No Longer-HOP

A former International House of Pancakes

The last half of the 20th Century was one where Americans began to travel by car more and more, as post-World War II prosperity and the resulting boom of babies saw families enjoying the sights across the United States. The Motor-Hotel or Motel became common; the Drive-In Theater allowed families to take the kids to the movies without ever leaving the car (as well as becoming the teen-aged "make out" venue of choice); and fast food in the form of drive-ins and drive throughs became popular. Other types of restaurants and shops also rode the automobile to roadside ubiquity. What boomer doesn't remember the ever-present Stuckey's by the side of the road, with its gift shop and restaurant; somewhat a forerunner of today's chains like Cracker Barrel. In the plains states, Nickerson Farms served a similar role.

One roadside restaurant franchise that has managed to survive to the present is IHOP, formerly the International House of Pancakes. From the time of its founding in 1958 to 1979, this restaurant chain was easily identifiable by its "A-frame" buildings. One thing I loved about them as a kid, but would absolutely sicken me today, was their chocolate chip pancakes covered in chocolate syrup. I am a chocolate lover, but that is just one big "YUCK" for me! In any case, IHOP has managed to stick around through morphing itself into a restaurant more like Denny's or Village Inn.

This venerable franchise holds a spot in recent American political rhetoric, thanks to Patrick Buchannan's joke at the 1992 GOP Convention, where he said that Bill Clinton's international policy experience "amounted to having once had breakfast at the International House of Pancakes".

While driving around the south Denver metro area, I came across this building that once housed an International House of Pancakes. I don't think it has been out of business for very long, since the letters IHOP can still be made out over the entrance where a sign once was mounted. It also has a DISH Network reflector antenna visible on the southwest corner of the building (seen in the photo above on the left). Apparently in its later days, this restaurant provided satellite television programming to its patrons.

With the real estate sign out front, I suspect this will soon be a used car sales office, or perhaps a taco joint in the near future. Still, there is something about this style of building that makes me think of chocolate chips and chocolate syrup!

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