IHOP's Tricky New Way to Get You to Order More Pancakes

A design overhaul at this breakfast-food chain has led to an increase in orders.

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere.


People are eating more at the International House of Pancakes. Not because of any sensational new special or deep-discount deal. No, the increase is thanks to a new menu, according to a recent spot on Bloomberg TV.

“Are you ready for a Jedi mind trick that involves pancakes?” Vanessa Wong asks, opening the story. Really, it’s more a trick of graphic design and some old-fashioned consumer manipulation that makes the pancake restaurant's new menu newsworthy. By rejiggering the way information is organized and displayed, the chain is getting diners to order more food.

How does it work? More pictures, less text, boxes (lots of boxes), color coding—basically, the menu functions less like a list of dishes than like a flashy print campaign advertising every single thing you can eat at IHOP.

If that sounds overwhelming, then you must not be a regular at the International House of Pancakes. Because as Bloomberg reports, sales are up 3.6 percent since the menu debuted.

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