IHOP, which recently changed its iconic name to IHOb, has revealed what the new consonant stands for: "burgers."
The name change accompanies a line of new burgers at the chain, which is known for breakfast dishes like rainbow sprinkle-filled "cupcake pancakes" and classic buttermilk pancakes. The chain is shifting its emphasis to seven new "steak burgers," which include a cowboy burger with onion rings and bacon and a "mega monster," which is IHOb's answer to McDonald's Big Mac.
Whether or not the IHOb name is only a short-term marketing gimmick, there's a monetary reason why the pancake chain is flipping over on its brand identity: Pancakes aren't selling like hotcakes. IHOP's same-restaurant sales -- or sales at locations open at least a year -- declined 1.9 percent in its most recent fiscal year.
"Everyone knows that IHOP makes world-famous pancakes, so we felt like the best way to convince them that we are as serious about our new line of Ultimate Steakburgers as we are about our pancakes was to change our name to IHOb," said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for IHOb restaurants, said in a statement.
IHOP seems to be hedging its bets by saying the IHOb name is "for the time being," suggesting the effort may be more of a marketing ploy rather than a true rebranding campaign.
Fans of the chain, known formally as Dine Equity and which also owns Applebee's, appear unimpressed with the new name. The company disclosed the new IHOb identity last week, although it didn't say what the "b" represented.
"@IHOb so are you still going to have pancakes and breakfast??? Or are you like a lunch place with just burgers? I'm so lost... #IHOP," one consumer wrote on social media.
Others called the name change "bizarre" and "a nightmare." Still, IHOb's bigger goal appears to have been achieved: To get consumers talking about the brand.
"This IHOP/IHOB thing is pretty brilliant... how many companies can get the entire internet talking about them based on a marketing campaign where they pretend to change their name? And how many people knew before today that they even served burgers?" wrote one Twitter user.
Wendy's Twitter account addresses the change to IHOb
The new name also earned a few burns from another restaurant chain. Wendy's, which is, said it wasn't too worried about the competition: "Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard."
It added, "Remember when you were like 7 and thought changing your name to Thunder BearSword would be super cool? Like that, but our cheeseburgers are still better."
Other fast-food chains also dished out some burns. Burger King jumped in on the mockery by changing its name on its Facebook and Twitter accounts to "Pancake King," along with a photo of flapjacks covered with maple syrup.
Waffle House told fans it had no plans to follow IHOb's lead.
"Even though we serve delicious burgers... we know our roots," Waffle House said on Twitter.