Today’s Completely Logical Partnership: NFL-IHOP

Do you want to put up with such sugary garbage that your teeth will fall out? We’d guess the answer’s no, but hey, some people have suicidal teeth. You never know. Anyway, you’ve got two options on that front. The first is to eat at IHOP.

Stuffed Football IHOP
(This is so necessary right now.)

The other option, which is closely related, is to read the press release that IHOP and the NFL just released to announce their partnership. It’s awful. It’s stupid. This is not a drill, Ironic Detachment Team; this is the real thing, and you’re going to have roll your eyes harder than you’ve ever rolled them before.


As football fans get ready for the upcoming season, IHOP, one of America’s favorite restaurants, has teamed up with the National Football League (NFL) to offer the ultimate fan fuel for football enthusiasts. The new “IHOP’s Gone Totally NFL” promotion introduces an all-pro lineup of NFL-themed menu items that tackle the taste buds with explosive flavor.

Yes. “Tackle the taste buds with explosive flavor.” If you’re not burying your head in your hands, dear reader, we don’t want to know you. Let’s plug on.

“The power of the NFL combined with IHOP’s great food and service provides for a winning combination,” said Carolyn O’Keefe, IHOP’s senior vice president, marketing. “We are thrilled to extend the excitement of the NFL to our guests with unique products that bring football and food together in a whole new way.”

“We are pleased to kick off the NFL season with this exciting promotion,” said Mark Waller, NFL senior vice president for sales and marketing. “IHOP offers a unique sponsorship opportunity with its one-of-a-kind menu items that provide our fans a taste of the game like never before.”

And right there, in that last sentence, lies a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the NFL’s rationale behind this decision. On one hand, it is an entertainment corporation, one that in conjunction with its franchises runs an annual budget of several billions of dollars. Its need for aggressive self-promotion is undeniable.

But at the same time, its draw and value is in extreme physical fitness. It’s entertainment by exercise. And here they are marketing through one of the single worst corporations when it comes to - well, malnutrition isn’t the right word, but let’s go ahead and make up misnutrition, because 95% of the food they end up serving is grossly overpacked with the stuff heart attacks are made of.

After all, look at the picture above, taken right from the press release. That’s not “a taste of the game,” as Waller claims. That’s stuffed french toast with a cream center on top of fruit in heavy syrup. That has nothing to do with football except for the fact that it’s cooked to look like a football. That’s all.

How does the NFL plan to reconcile this with their mission to help promote childhood fitness? Like, “go ahead and run for 60 minutes… then gorge yourself on this dish made of cake frosting and candied bacon fat! We named it after a football term so you’ll like it more.”

Here, read the football-themed menu, a testament to overindulgence and adult-onset diabetes. Try to imagine a single worse restaurant chain for an athletic organization to partner itself with.

Oh, and here’s one of the commercials. Larry Fitzgerald, for this alone, we’re totally dropping you to the 2nd round - late second round, pal! - in our fantasy rankings for this:

It’s just too bad that the NFL is so sponsor-hungry that they would know better than accept this deal from IHOHFCS.