Free Food On My Birthday, Because I’m Worth It

IHOP Rooty Tooty Fresh Fruity Peach

IHOP’s peach slice-to-flapjack ratio is unfortunately 1:1.

As a child, I never celebrated my birthday – it was against my religion. Celebrating your birthday was considered bad form; giving yourself undeserved recognition for having survived another year on earth. How dare I bring attention to myself like that? Sure, lots of kids in my school went overboard, expecting special treatment and letting the whole thing go to their heads, but a cupcake every now and then would’ve been nice.

My parents (“Jehovah’s Witnesses”) were very strict about it, and this unconventional dismissal of every other kid’s favorite days included Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and Thanksgiving. My parents’ reasoning was that they don’t need a special day to show me love/buy me presents, but this was a little transparent. When you don’t have a “special day”, you generally have to “prove” that you are due for some pampering – when it really should just happen, like clockwork, on Christmas or your birthday (at minimum). In a way, this is a realistic frame of mind for a kid to have about what the future has in store. No one’s gonna automatically love you and appreciate you just because it’s a particular day. That’ll put some hair on your chest.

Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I were to suddenly protest and celebrate my birthday on the down-low? Would I have learned about cake sooner? I definitely would’ve understood the jokes that other kids were making about “birthday suits” (at the time, birthdays seemed so mysterious to me that birthday suits could’ve conceivably been anything).

That’s all in the past, though, and I’m making up for lost time by taking advantage of the most sacrilegious birthday deals I can find: Denny’s Grand Slam (or as my parents call it, “Satan’s Combo”) and IHOP’s Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity pancakes. Each one elevates customer appreciation to an art-form. Basically, free food with no strings attached – you’d just need to have been born at some point (and maybe prove it with government-issued identification). With a little intestinal fortitude, you could literally eat breakfast all day.

You don’t have to clog your arteries to enjoy your birthday freedom, though. Having a Starbucks gold card is the gift that keeps on giving – even when you’re not celebrating your birthday among the rest of us heathens. The current system is: pay for 30 purchases with your Starbucks gift card, then you’re promoted from “Green” to “Gold”. Once you’re Gold, you enjoy a free drink (or food) every 12 purchases/”Stars”, and… a free drink on your birthday. I’ve got this down to a science at this point: Using my gold card to pay for everything, and taking advantage of any bonus-star offers on the Starbucks app… I’m clearing a free drink every week! I’ve arrived!

Starbucks Gold Card Venti Drink

To truly enjoy your birthday, you’re gonna need three shots.

You can’t beat the “Pancake Revolution” promotion at IHOP. By simply signing up, you get free pancakes. Then, on your birthday, you get free pancakes (a Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity, or another dish of equal value). Plus, you get another free Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity (can you tell that I like saying “Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity?) on the anniversary of the date when you initially signed up for this amazing promotion. One of the greatest things about this deal is that you technically don’t have to use it on the actual birthday/anniversary date: IHOP will send you an email reminder that’s good for about 10 days.

Free Grand Slam #1 (shhh... don't tell anybody).

Free Grand Slam #1 (shhh… don’t tell anybody).

On the other hand, Denny’s perennial favorite “Birthday Slam” absolutely HAS to be consumed on your birthday. But, whereas IHOP is more flexible about using the reward, Denny offers more variety with an additional menu of sides with which to “slam it up”. For example, I added some awesome grits to my Grand Slam for $.99 (the grits arrived with a melting butter ball on top). The Birthday Slam originally comes with two eggs, two pancakes, two bacon strips, and two sausages, but you can customize your Grand Slam by mixing different items from the “Build Your Own Slam” menu.

Grand Slam Denny's

My second birthday Grand Slam, a homerun.

Here’s the part that Denny’s doesn’t really advertise: By visiting different Denny’s, you can pretty much eat a free Grand Slam multiple times throughout your birthday (as long as God doesn’t strike you down with lightning for your insolence). Multiple Grand Slams, “bases loaded, bottom of the ninth…”, and even though I half-expected the Denny’s hostess to cut my driver’s license in half and call the cops, I felt pretty good about my birthday this year. Amen.

Union Station Denny's

The kitchen had run out of food by the time I was finished.


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