Do you want pancakes with that?

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that names, those handy-dandy identifiers we hang on things, are an important part of our lives even though we don’t usually think about them much.

With a few exceptions, such as when it’s time to name a newly born baby, we just accept the names associated with people, processes, goods, and all kinds of everyday stuff. Sure is a lot easier identifying a guy as “Jeff ” rather than “that really tall, balding guy with a mustache” or a device as a “microwave” rather than a “whatchamacallit”.

Peoples’ names are truly important in our society in that they provide identification of individuals. Although such identifiers are usually helpful, in some cases they may cause confusion and concern. My name is a common one hereabouts and has resulted in my being mistaken for someone else with the same first and last name. These instances have usually involved my getting notices that my car is about to be repossessed unless I resume payment, or water service for my home is to be discontinued unless I pay past due bills.

Fortunately, I have resolved these by providing information showing I was not the person being sought — and additional identifiers to set me apart from others with the same name.

Businesses set great store in their names and those of their products and services. In fact, some have become so well known that they have what might be called a life of their own. The original “Kleenex” for example, was the name of a disposable paper tissue offered as an alternative to a handkerchief. Today, however, the term is applied to any of a number of disposable paper tissues produced and marketed by other companies. But they are still “Kleenex.”

In some parts of the world using a vacuum cleaner is referred to as “hoovering” as in, “I’ll be hoovering the carpets tomorrow.” You see, the Hoover vacuum cleaner company dominated the market for so long that using a vacuum cleaner took on an adaptation of the company name — regardless of the actual brand of vacuum cleaner used. Kinda like “Kleenex” huh?

In the business world, company names may or may not provide prospective customers with information about what the company does. For example, what do the names “Spectrum” or “Sprint” reveal about the companies?

On the other hand, names may be very important to a business, particularly when the name incorporates something about the product or services provided by the company. Anyone care to guess what “Pizza Hut,” “Burger King,” or “Kentucky Fried Chicken” offer to their customers?

OK, so what has jumped-started this interest in names? Well, according to news reports, IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, is changing its name — possibly as a marketing test. We first discovered IHOP many years ago when we took our youngsters there for its family friendly, reasonably priced service. And so when we found IHOP is contemplating a name change we were interested.

Yep, IHOP has become — now get this — “IHOb” with the new acronym created by “flipping” the “P” to become a “B.” Yep, the “International House of burgers” will be featuring “Ultimate Steakburgers made with Black Angus beef and served on brioche buns.” I haven’t seen anything about the prices, but this creation sure sounds like a pretty high-end hamburger — well above those of Mickey Dee, Burger King, or Wendy’s.

As part of the geriatric generation, I guess I kinda naturally dislike change, particularly when involving something I’ve known for a while. IHOP has been a reliable, comfortable eatery for decades — we particularly enjoyed finding one when we traveled because we knew exactly what to expect. Sure, the IHOP management offers assurance pancakes and waffles will continue to be served, but converting the venerable IHOP into a hamburger joint changes everything.

Well, our world does change and the folks who run IHOP have to make adjustments in the highly competitive arena of family dining. How this particular realignment of direction will play out will undoubtedly be determined by how well it is accepted by public response but one scenario keeps popping up in my mind.

It’s the situation where, once a customer has ordered one of those Ultimate Steakburgers, the server asks, “Do you want pancakes with that?” I can just see that happening.

At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at