I have a conundrum. IHOP, also known as the International House Of Pancakes, seems to enjoy pitting my sense of value against my well being.
I’m not sure how other IHOP restaurants operate, but the branch in West Babylon in New York has offered a unique deal for some time. Buy any drink, sodas tend to run $2 with unlimited refills and iced coffees are about $2.50 with unlimited refills, and they’ll give you unlimited pancakes for another $4.99 on Wednesdays. Granted there is no protein, fruit, vegetable or other healthy substance in either offering, but you’re probably not looking for health food at IHOP. That and the fact that $7(plus another $2+ for tax and tip) for unlimited soda and pancakes… just in case you’re not from Long Island, that’s cheap around here.
My twin brother and I are only a few years removed from college and obviously not wealthy quite yet. We accidentally discovered this deal a few years back, and made semi-regular trips most Wednesday nights to get our fill. Our attendance has been less regular in recent months, but now tend to include two of my college-aged cousins.
It did not take years, however, for me to learn a dark, terrible secret about this special – something in IHOP’s food disagrees mightily with my digestive system. Normally able to stomach large amounts of terrible quality food or ghost chili-laced food without a second thought, it’s not uncommon for strong gas pains to force me awake before dawn on those Thursday mornings. Sometimes one trip to the bathroom gets the job done, other times I’m back and forth while the sun slowly rises.
My meal choices have varied slightly, but always include the staples of pancakes and soda. Sometimes that includes salads and other times eggs. At first I just attributed my gastrointestinal dilemmas to salad, because lettuce is roughage and obviously forces changes in the human digestive tract. But that was ruled out when the pain returned without eating lettuce. I thought it may have been the eggs, but I was also able to rule that out too.
It comes down to one of the two base items, and I’m moderately confident it’s not the soda. So what is it about IHOP’s pancakes that causes gastrointestinal distress? According to copycat recipes on the Internet, it’s buttermilk, flour, eggs, sugar and other normal ingredients. What about the syrup? The nutritional details seem to suggest it’s nearly all sugar, and it runs like every other cheap maple syrup. According to the Mayo Clinic, artificial sweeteners can cause gas pains and diarrhea, but I don’t like diet drinks and foods.
So I’m at a loss. What should I do? I love a deal and greatly value every dollar, but my health and well being is worth a great deal to me. For now I’ve cut back extensively on our IHOP trips, but with the regular calls as work wraps on Wednesday afternoon, I’m not sure how effective that will be.