Hire Pancakes for the Morning Drive

November 20, 2009 in Diabetes Management, Food Economics, Psychology of Food by Victor Bunderson

Market research uses focus groups in segmented sections of an audience to discover what people say they want and would buy.  What people say in these groups and what they actually do when confronted with the opportunity to purchase a product may be very different.  Another approach is to realize that stuff just happens to people in their lives, so they go out and “hire” some product to enable them do get a particular job done.

This concept was explained well in an important book that describes where health care could be going in this country.  It is called The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care authored by Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen, who in a series of writings has developed an influential theory of disruptive innovation.  In this book, he and his two co-authors develop a remarkable integrated approach to bringing down healthcare costs while improving the quality.  I will refer to this important work in future blogs, but for now we are indebted to these authors (and those they cite) to explain what it means to hire a pancake.

On pages 11-14, an interesting story is told of what was learned when investigators went to sites where a product was being “hired” and asked what job it was being hired to do.  The product was a milkshake.  The researcher found that single individuals purchased fully 40% of milkshakes from a sample of restaurants; they did not buy anything else, and they took the milkshake out to their car and drove away, consuming it while driving.

Learning this important information, the researcher went the next day to interview these people to find out what job they had hired the milkshake to do. What he learned was this:  These people had a long, boring ride to work.  One hand was occupied guiding the steering wheel, but the other hand had nothing to do.  They needed something to do with that hand, but were not yet hungry.  However, by 10:00, they knew they would be hungry. But they were dressed in their work clothes, and didn’t want a sticky mess on their hands nor spills on their clothes.  It took people about 20 minutes to suck the viscous milkshake up through the straw, and it was easy to avoid spills with only a straw.  It relieved the 10:00 hunger. It did the job well.

When asked what other products they had hired on other occasions to do the job, they mentioned bagels, but without cream cheese or jam these bagels were dry and tasteless.  With it they were dangerously sticky.  Other baked goods could crumble on the clean clothes, or could also produce sticky fingers and steering wheel.  Some commuters hired a banana, but it didn’t last long enough. Neither did doughnuts tide people over past the hunger attack about 10:00.  Some hired a candy bar, but the guilt was just too great to do it too often.  So the milkshake did the job better than these competitors.

Now the title of this post becomes clear. Dr. Grandma’s 100% whole wheat pancakes are ideal for a driving breakfast.  I had been using them for this purpose before reading this interesting account of hiring a milkshake.  A batch of Dr. Grandma’s pancakes for two of us produces 12-13 pancakes.  I consume 4 and DrG consumes 2.  That leaves about 6 to put in a zip-lock bag in the fridge, where it will last for a week (but never lasts that long). Sometimes we prepare more for the fridge, as they are still great to warm up for another breakfast, or for the driving job.

The job of combating morning hunger is extremely well satisfied by whole-wheat pancakes cooked with a little extra-virgin olive oil. They stick with you, not on you!  People used to eating refined flour pancakes tell us “I can’t eat as many of your pancakes”.  At first this is a lament, then they realize what a boon it is to weight management.  How great – to be filled up with fewer calories yet with far more healthful nutrients! So the hunger part of the morning drive job is well satisfied, and it competes well with a milkshake.  First, no time is spent driving to a store or fast-food place on the way to work.  You can put 3-4 pancakes in the ziplock bag into the microwave and press “22” for 22 seconds (which as Dr.G points out, is faster than “20”).  Then you have warm, firm but soft, non-crumbly pancakes to eat.  Take a napkin, because there is a tiny residue of oil on your fingers after holding the warm pancake while you drive and eat. Second, if you are managing diabetes and/or weight, or cardiovascular risks, that milk shake is a killer, loaded with calories, butterfat, and more salt than you get in French fries. Third, the food economics are MUCH worse for the milkshake  than the pancakes, which come in less per pancake than a biscuit of shredded wheat.

Usually in a hurry in the mornings, I had hired a couple of slices of white Great Harvest bread for the morning drive to the University for years.  It was not too satisfactory, especially if it had been in the fridge for a while and had gotten a bit dry.  It crumbles on your suit, so you don’t want any butter or jam on it.  After Doctor Grandma’s pancakes came into my life, they were quickly hired for the morning drive job. The pancakes have a natural sweetness due to the Delight all-natural sweetener, and I find them delightful indeed to eat, even without a topping.  I think you could quickly spread a bit of jam on one pancake and stick another one over it, making a nice and quick “panwich”.  Managing diabetes, as I must do now, I haven’t tried that one.  It increases the risk of a sticky accident anyway, which is an occupational hazard of this job if you get too risky with toppings.

Crack open the ziplock, push 22 seconds, grab a bottled drink, then walk to the car with your driving breakfast.

Want to try it?  Click Hire Pancakes for Morning Drive.

Best wishes for healthy and delicious eating,

Dr. Grandpa