When it comes to breakfast food in America, there’s a veritable Mount Rushmore of chains to pick from: McDonald’s. Waffle House. Dunkin’ Donuts. But it’s perhaps the fourth and final breakfast luminary, IHOP, that has etched what it means to dine out in the morning into our collective psyches. The chain, which was born in Southern California in the 1950s, has embedded its iconic blue-hued roofs from coast to coast and, more recently, across the globe, feeding its customers everything from French toast to burgers.
Of course, its prized item -- the one that sent its restaurants cascading around the globe, the one included in its freakin’ name -- is its pancakes. The mighty flapjack existed way before IHOP came along, but the chain helped spread the gospel. While its legendarily plain buttermilk pancakes might be the first item that comes to mind when someone mentions the chain, IHOP serves 12 other varieties of hotcakes on the regular, ranging from its classic Strawberry'N Cream to more gonzo offerings like cupcake and English sticky toffee. All of IHOP’s pancakes serve a purpose, but some are more universally accessible than others. So, we ranked all 13 IHOP pancakes, based on the following criteria:
- Flavor: We judged each pancake variation based off how well each of the assembled elements on a particular stack taste once they hit your tongue.
- Ingredient interplay: This takes the analysis of flavor one step further by considering how well each element included within or on the stack plays off one another. Is there too much going on? Is there not enough going on?
- Syrup-icity: This criterion measures how well a particular stack performs without the help of syrup. Some special stacks have built-in syrup-like elements that allow you to eschew the condiment; others need some type of syrup to prevent cottonmouth.