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A 'Pancake Day' Conspiracy? Who Cares—Free Pancakes!

IHOP in Ellisville and at locations nationwide are giving away free pancake today, but a short stack of controversy just might be piling up in the process.

News outlets across the country recently were alerted of an upcoming special being offered by International House of Pancakes: Free pancakes at your Tuesday in honor of "National Pancake Day."

But wait, hold the syrup.

Like many Americans who was raised Catholic, I had a mother who lovingly filled her children's plates growing up with sweet, buttery pancakes every year on "Fat Tuesday," the day before Lent, which started last week. It's a tradition that reaches countless households, as MSNBC confirms. In fact, the practice is so common that other nations even dubbed that day as "Pancake Tuesday."

Slate.com apparently shares my serious concern:

This naturally raises the question of why an international house of pancakes would be so focused on a national pancake day. It turns out, however, that in the non-U.S. portions of the English-speaking world, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (i.e., last Tuesday) is known as Pancake Tuesday.

To add to the confusion, a search on Google for "National Pancake Day" reveals that Sept. 26, 2012, apparently, is in fact National Pancake Day. When Google's media helpdesk was emailed to see where they got that date, the company issued this statement in response:

"For certain searches where you’re looking for the date of a particular holiday or celebration, we present a quick answer at the top of the results page when the date is corroborated by many sources across the web."

Exactly what those sources were remains a mystery.

According to IHOP's website, the company is trying to use Tuesday to raise $2.7 million this year for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and other designated local charities by asking customers to leave donations in light of their special. Honorable as that may be, it still doesn't answer the question of why the company appears to have gone rogue with their breakfast declaration.

In addition to being unnecessarily confusing, the question raises a more important point: What should stop a company from declaring any particular day to be dedicated to their product? Would it be OK for Apple to declare July 4 as the United States' "National iPad Day," or for Ford Motor Company to designate a date on the calendar dedicated to the Taurus?

Regardless of the answers to the above, strange decisions aimed at pushing their products seem to be an IHOP tradition; I still find myself entranced by this bizarre commercial the company ran in 1969.

So what's your theory, Ballwin and Ellisville? Have businesses gone mad with commercial holidays? Is IHOP sedating its patrons with free starch and sugar in an effort to take over the world? Or do we even care, as free pancakes down the hatch are too tasty to be analyzed?

Tell us in the comments section below.

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