IHOP Traumatized the Internet With Its Mother’s Day Tweet of a Pancake-Filled Womb

An unnerving pivot from IHOP to IHOb to IHOB-GYN

IHOP's tweet wasn't quite the typical brand fare on Mother's Day. IHOP via Twitter
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Socially savvy brands can’t let any holiday go by without comment by way of content, and Mother’s Day is one that most understandably have a stake in. But what happens when the current era of “weird brand Twitter” crashes into a holiday as typically warm and fuzzy as Mother’s Day? Apparently you get a womb full of breakfast.

IHOP today tweeted a rather bizarre image of a towering pile of pancakes seemingly stacked inside a woman’s body and seen via ultrasound. Viewers instantly began expressing a mix of confusion and revulsion at just about every aspect of the image.

“If you have pancakes in your tum tum,” the tweet text says, “does that make you a pancake mum mum? Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the moms out there!”

The tweet raises so many questions. Just, so many. Each one more disturbing than the last. Is this implying a uterus and a stomach are the same thing? Are those pancakes currently exiting the body? But the only question that really matters is: Good god, why?

IHOP may have pulled off an impressive stunt with its supposed rebranding as IHOb, the International House of Burgers, but is the world ready for its attempt to be an IHOB-GYN? No. No, it is not.

While the tweet isn’t seriously offending all that many people, an ultrasound image is an emotional thing. It’s typically either a source of extreme joy or serious concern.

Some also noted that the image feels especially awkward to be posted amid a highly polarized national debate over state abortion bans:

IHOP certainly isn’t the first brand to attempt an ultrasound joke and find it met with a decidedly mixed reception.

Doritos found itself in a similar situation in 2016, when its “Ultrasound” Super Bowl spot left some viewers feeling the ad’s punchline was a bit too troubling to be played for laughs.

Adweek has reached out to IHOP for comment on the reactions to the Mother’s Day tweet, and we’ll update this article if we hear back.

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@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."