IHOP has announced a new loyalty program and teamed up with a few famous faces to spread the news. Among them, actress and comedian Niecy Nash—whose decision to work with the 24-hour eatery specializing in breakfast food—was personal as both herself and her spouse enjoy the restaurant.
“They have an omelette. It’s so spicy. It’s got shredded beef and queso and jalapeno. Anything spicy, I’m there for it,” she told VIBE while shooting campaign footage for the partnership at the Beverly Hilton. “My better half [Jessica Betts] likes their spicy cheeseburger, with the serrano and jalapeno peppers. We are a spicy family, so we are always going to show up for the thing on the menu that’s the spiciest.”
With IHOP’s newly established International Bank of Pancakes, customers can enroll and earn PanCoins, a crypto pancake that lives on IHOP’s digital platforms. With PanCoins, omelette enthusiasts can receive free pancakes on their birthday, have access to other exclusive offers, and earn rewards that stack up.
Alongside Nash, Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, gymnast influencer and poet Katelyn Ohashi, and a roster of social media influencers and creators have been enlisted by the pancake perfectionists to spread the news by surprising and a few with PanCoins and donating up to $50,000 each to a charity of their choice.
“The lineup of talent we have assembled to introduce our loyalty program help guests earn PanCoins and create more moments of happiness is impressive. Within their individual circles of influence, they each bring a sense of belonging and togetherness, and when you come to IHOP, you come as you are,” expressed Kieran Donahue, Chief Marketing Officer, IHOP in a press release.
For Niecy, the adoration of the Spicy Poblano Omelette is only part of her appreciation of IHOP. Below, we discuss their loyalty program, family meals, her personal life, and more.
This interview had been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: What was it about this campaign that made you come on board?
Niecy Nash: One, I love to be a part of helping people and bringing joy to people. Coming out of the pandemic, people have gone through so many things, especially financial hardships, and to be able to purchase something and get something for what you’ve purchased, I feel like you win, you know what I mean? “I was going to buy this anyway, but now I’m adding to what I’m able to purchase.” I loved that idea.
Number two, who doesn’t love pancakes? And number three, my baby girl. IHOP is her favorite restaurant. She goes there all the time. She could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And so it just was a natural fit for me. I was like, “Yes, let’s put some smiles on some people’s faces, put some PanCoins in their virtual account, and let them go eat whatever they want, on us.” It’s a win-win.
Another theme of the campaign to me seems to be making happy memories through meals. Is that something that’s important to you or has it been a big part of your day-to-day?
You know what? Let me take you back a few ticks. I did a TV show, Celebrity Wife Swap. One of the things I got from the mother that I swapped with, an actress named Tina Yothers from Family Ties, was the idea of communing together over a meal. The way I used to do it was dinner was made, whatever time it was made. And it was on the stove, you eat when you want to, or don’t. You could take your plate in your room, take it outside in the back, I don’t care what you do. You can’t say I didn’t feed you. You know what I mean?
She introduced this idea to me, of the importance of breaking bread together, and I never forgot that as a takeaway. So, when we can all fellowship together, even if it’s just my better half and I, she’ll call me and say, “I am so hungry, but I’m going to wait for you.” So, we’ve baked that fellowship in. I love it, and when you can get pancakes at night, it’s even better. Breakfast at night? We love it!
The phrase “PanCoin,” I think that’s so cute. I think that’s hilarious. How do you feel about the PanCoin just as a theme?
Well, you know what? I like it. I think it’s catchy, I think it’s cute and redeemable for any kind of food. Not just a pancake, but for whatever you would like. A cheeseburger, they have excellent onion rings, it just depends on what you want. It’s like a loyalty program. Like “because you are loyal to us, let us give you back something in return.” So, I like it. I think it’s very catchy, too.
You mentioned Your better half… So y’all just had that ESSENCE cover. How was that experience for you from beginning to end? How did that cover come about?
We got a call to do the cover, but it was a short turnaround. It was like, maybe we had to do it in a week or something, or a couple of days. Whatever it was, I remember it being a very short amount of time. And I was like, “Okay, well, sure. Is there a storyboard?” And there were some images within the storyboard where the models were nude, and I was like, “Oh, that’s what y’all want us to do?” And my better half was like, “We doing this?” And I’m like, “I guess we are. Yeah, let’s get it.”
But we did not know the impact of the shoot. And at one point there was some conversation after we shot everything, about not using the photo on the cover. And then I asked for it back. I said, “If you’re not going to use it, give it back. Because the shot is gorgeous. And I don’t want it to just be somewhere in an archive somewhere.” And they changed course and decided to use the photo.
What I love about it is that to me, before you see the gender, you see the love. And that is powerful when you put it in the world. Because that’s the thing that we were really creating for. We’re actors. We’re producers. We’re content creators for a living. That is what we do. But our who is to love and be of service. So, when you see love, when you show love, when you promote love in any way, I feel like you’re adding to our purpose in the world.
Your work often crosses paths. Do you see yourself doing anything bigger as a joint project, like, “This is us. This is what we came up with together. Boom.”?
Well, it’s funny you should ask because we are marinating on what sort of a project we would want to do. And I have to tell you, we have been approached many times about doing a reality series about our life. I’m just not interested in that. I don’t like a follow-along per se. Because I don’t even know what you would come to my house and film. Because 24/7, we skinny-dipping and drinking expensive champagne. Is that a TV show? I think not. That’s not a TV show, guys. But there may be some other ways that we could find, and that’s what we are actively looking for now. Ways to not only join us as a couple but for our unique paths in entertainment to intersect.