NEW YORK (CNN Money) – The mystery of IHOB has been revealed. IHOP said Monday that it’s temporarily changing its branding to IHOB with the B standing for burgers.
It’s only a marketing campaign. IHOP isn’t changing its name. But the chain of breakfast diners took social media by storm last week with the cryptic announcement that it was flipping the lowercase ‘p’ in its logo and making it a ‘b.’ IHOP of course stands for International House of Pancakes. But IHOP wants to be known as a place to get lunch and dinner as well, not just breakfast and brunch.
The company is adding several burgers to its menu — including a Big Brunch burger with bacon, a fried egg and browned potato on top.
“We are definitely going to be IHOP,” said Darren Rebelez, president of IHOP. “But we want to convey that we are taking our burgers as seriously as our pancakes.”
An IHOP in Hollywood got new IHOB signs, and some others might also get the treatment. The new IHOB Twitter account even retweeted photos and video of a construction crew putting up the new sign in Los Angeles. But, Rebelez assured, the vast majority of the nearly 1,800 other locations will still go by IHOP.
So, to use another B-word, will there be a backlash?
Some people correctly predicted that the B would stand for burgers, but many on social media guessed that the B would stand for breakfast or bacon. Others had more fun, speculating that the B stood for bitcoin or break dancing. Chiquita even got in on the act, saying that the B should stand for bananas.
Rebelez is not worried about people being disappointed. He said that some fans were upset about the idea of IHOP even considering tinkering with the name. But most fans figured that it was just a way to get people talking. It worked. “The vast majority of people were having fun with the name change and were trying to solve the riddle,” he said. “They had fun for a week trying to figure it out.”
America loves burgers, and IHOP wants to be a bigger player at lunch and dinner. When asked if IHOP was considering food-fusion menu items — remember Burger King’s Whopperito or Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries? — Rebelez joked that diners could order a side of flapjacks and make their own pancake burger.
Still, it’s worth wondering why IHOP is going through all this trouble. Why mess with a good thing?
IHOP owner Dine Brands is also the parent company of Applebee’s. Is Rebelez worried that he’s competing more directly with his corporate sibling? Not really, Rebelez said. IHOP will remain family-focused, while Applebee’s will still be a place to go with friends to get a beer and watch a game.
“They have a bar,” Rebelez said. “If you want a burger and beer, you are not going to come to IHOP.” In other words, the B in IHOB clearly doesn’t stand for booze.
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