IHOP ties into 'Wonka' movie with themed LTOs

The family-dining chain launches eight menu items Monday inspired by the film’s story—and they’re not all chocolate.
Wonka's Perfectly Purple Pancakes are layered with cheesecake mousse and drizzled with purple cream cheese icing. | Photos courtesy of IHOP.

IHOP is introducing eight LTOs inspired by “Wonka,” Warner Bros. Pictures’ holiday movie that hits theaters Dec. 15.

The Pasadena, Calif. chain has had success in the past with movie tie-ins, developing menu items in collaboration with "The Addams Family" and "Minions: The Rise of Gru." The beloved story of how Willy Wonka became a famous inventor, magician and chocolate maker is a natural tie-in for a family-dining restaurant, said Chef Arthur Carl II, IHOP’s VP of culinary. Surprisingly, the limited-time offers, which launch Monday, are not all about chocolate.

“Everyone’s head went to chocolate right away, but that’s too obvious. We went with savory ideas, too,” said Carl. “And the color purple plays a big role in the movie, so we tapped into that.”

There’s a lot of color in the menu, starting with Wonka’s Perfectly Purple Pancakes—a stack of purple buttermilk pancakes layered with cheesecake mousse and topped with purple cream cheese icing, whipped topping and gold glitter sugar. Along the same theme is a Daydream Berry Biscuit, split and filled with cheesecake mousse and crowned with a mixed berry topping, purple cream cheese icing and powdered sugar.


The Daydream Berry Biscuit has purple accents to reflect the signature color that runs through the movie. 

“When you partner with a movie studio, we can add fun colors to pancakes, waffles and biscuits, our core menu equity,” said Carl.

“Core and explore” is his R&D mantra. The biscuits, along with pancake tacos, are newer core items that “we elevate at different times of the year to remind people about,” he added. In this LTO collection, he reimagined the latter as Hoverchoc Pancake Tacos, which are composed of three silver dollar chocolate pancakes folded and filled with chocolate chips, cheesecake mousse, fresh sliced strawberries and chocolate drizzle.

Carl and his team also added some whimsy to the beverage lineup. Dreamy Lemonade is made with prickly pear, which is naturally purple in color, and is served with a cream cheese icing rainbow sprinkle rim and a cloud of cotton candy. “When you stir the cotton candy into the drink, it creates a bit of magic,” said Carl.

Scrumdiddlyumptious Strawberry Hot Chocolate embraces the chocolate theme; hot chocolate is flavored with strawberry syrup, then topped with whipped topping and a drizzle of chocolate sauce and gold glitter sugar.


Two themed "magical" beverages are Dreamy Lemonade and  Scrumdiddlyumptious Strawberry Hot Chocolate.

On the savory side is the overstuffed Fantastical Wonka Burger topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, four-cheese blend, avocado, bacon, fried hash browns, IHOP sauce and a ranch drizzle on a brioche bun.

During the promotion, which runs through Jan. 7, IHOP is inviting kids to eat free when dining in with an adult. LTOs geared to children under 12 include the Jr. Magical Breakfast Medley (two purple pancakes and one scrambled egg, bacon strip and sausage link) and Willy’s Jr. French Toast Dippers with chocolate dipping sauce and a side of fresh strawberries and bananas.

“The menu crosses all age groups and is both savory and sweet so it satisfies all cravings,” said Carl. “Through customer feedback we learned that our guests want quality and fresh ingredients along with a value piece. Plus, customization is important; 80% of guests customize.”

He explained that when IHOP contracts with a film studio for a menu partnership, tastings are held not only with the chain’s culinary and marketing teams, but with studio execs as well. “Everyone’s excited about the Wonka menu, and we’ll probably do more movie tie-ins in the future,” said Carl. “It works well for IHOP.”

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