Miss America flips flapjacks for charity

Miss America got behind the griddle on Monday to kick off an International House of Pancakes campaign to give away 5 million buttermilk flapjacks.

In exchange, officials at the Glendale-based chain hope full-bellied diners will leave donations for the Children’s Miracle Network, which supports Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and other medical centers across the nation.

Teresa Scanlan, the first-ever Miss America from Nebraska, tied a red IHOP apron over her blue dress Monday at the company’s test kitchen on Brand Boulevard to mark the start of the campaign. She told kitchen director Anne Albertine what she understood about making a good pancake: Use cold water in the batter, don’t mix too much, and cook the pancakes at 350 degrees for about two-and-a-half minutes a side.

Asked Albertine, “When do you flip them?”

“When they stop bubbling and have a dull surface,” Scanlan answered.

“You’re hired,” Albertine responded.

IHOP spokeswoman Jennifer Pendergrass said the chain gave away 4 million pancakes and raised more than $2.1 million for charity last year. This year, she said, the goal is $2.3 million.

Local IHOP restaurants have been gearing up for the campaign for weeks.

“It is a crazy day,” said Scott Brogden, who helps manage seven IHOP restaurants, including the one at 605 N. Glendale Ave. “It starts at 7 a.m. and goes until 10 p.m. We have a waiting line pretty much the entire 15 hours.”

To meet the demand, Brogden said he orders “tons and tons of buttermilk, probably what we normally use in two weeks.”

Donations at the Glendale restaurant should outpace last year’s $1,800, he said, adding that customers have been more generous in buying “miracle balloons” in the weeks before the event.

Store managers recently hosted a family whose child is a patient at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, underscoring the reason for the effort, he said.

“You can’t help but be moved,” Brogden said.

According to IHOP lore, National Pancake Day traces its roots to old Shrove Tuesday traditions in England, when people used up dairy products in meals to be consumed before fasting for Lent. This is the sixth year the company has hosted the fundraiser.

Scanlan is scheduled to be at the IHOP on Sunset today. The native of Gering, Neb., population 8,000, said she realized she and her six siblings were not doing her mom any favors when they helped her make pancakes at home.

The best pancake batter is a little lumpy, but the Scanlan kids stirred it until it was smooth.

“We just loved stirring,” she said, “so we kept stirring,”

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