So I have been seeing this particular iHop commercial lately:
Now, it seems like a pretty mundane commercial; iHop is showing how people who eat at their restaurant eat their pancakes and that’s supposed to be appealing. But if you look closely toward the beginning of the commercial, you see a guy that they call “The Big Dipper” dunking a dry pancake into a mug of coffee:
When I first saw this, I wondered aloud what kind of mental defect this gentleman has that would cause him to dunk a pancake in a cup of coffee. Not that I don’t like things dunked into my coffee, but dunking is reserved for stuff like cookies and donuts, not pancakes, which are meant to be smothered in some sort of syrup or compote, maybe with some butter, and eaten with a fork.
Then I watched the commercial again and I had a revelation. Everyone in the commercial was eating their pancakes in their own way and they seemed to all enjoy their meals. In fact, iHop was not only condoning this practice, it was encouraging it.
There was a time when pancakes were all eaten the way I like to eat them. People sat at tables in a diner–tables which were usually arranged in rows–and undertook a standardized procedure to have breakfast. But then came places like iHop, which set aside the industrial-model pancake eating in favor of customer-centered, differentiated eating. In fact, their very name suggests that they realize that pancake eating doesn’t just happen within the restaurant and that the pancake eating shouldn’t feel so contained and detached from the rest of the world–after all, it is the International House of Pancakes.
My guess is that someone at iHop took lessons from people like Steve Jobs, who didn’t feel that the traditional way of dealing with apples was right for him and dropped out of eating apples to reinvent the concept of apples. And The Big Dipper is taking ownership of his eating pancakes within an environment that does not enslave and abuse its eaters or steals their dreams of dunking pancakes in coffee, but instead lets them fly.
So fly, Big Dipper. FLY! You have me so INSPIRED!