On Monday, IHOP (formerly known as The International House of Pancakes) unveiled, writes Adweek, “a new logo for the emoticon era.” The only significant change in its updated design was the addition of a mouth under the “op.” That newly created smiley face—according to Kirk Thompson, IHOP’s VP of Marketing—represents how much their “world famous pancakes [make guests] smile.” But could they not tell that the new face is smiling through its tears?
In the logo’s newest iteration, the p’s descender clearly represents a teardrop.* But is it possible that the face depicted by the o, p, and curved red line isn’t actually new? Has the IHOP face been here for years? Let’s take a look at the pancake house’s previous logo.
*One could argue that the descender is a nose, but its direct connection to the o/eye—not to mention its blue color—screams teardrop. To me, at least.
Hmmm. Nothing weird here. It’s just a normal faceless branding mark, right? Wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is a face. That is a crying face with a frowning mouth, and we missed it. We all missed it for decades. It’s kind of like discovering the arrow in the middle of the FedEx logo, only instead of a cute hidden mark that’s conceptually relevant to the brand, it’s a shellshocked cartoon face that is perpetually overwhelmed by some kind of pancake-related nightmare happening in the international house of horrors it calls home.
Knowing what we now know about Op (I named him Op), the new logo becomes all the more disturbing. Op’s smile suggests that he has been at least partly rehabilitated after witnessing The Unspeakable Things (20 years of therapy and Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity® breakfasts must have helped), but now he’s stuck, dead-eyed, with a smile on his face. And the crying hasn’t stopped.
What is IHOP really trying to suggest with their new logo? Do their pancakes make us smile because they’re so delicious, or because everything else is so horrible? Is this logo IHOP’s subversive way of commenting on the fact that we use the delicious combination of hot carbs and maple syrup to blind us from all the problems of the world?
Regardless of the reason for Op’s infinite sadness, I’m hungry.
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Images via IHOP