The U.S. State That's Genuinely Flatter Than IHOP Pancakes

When was the last time you enjoyed a tall, buttery pile of pancakes? Be honest — only 7% of Americans say that they don't enjoy these discs of deliciousness, so you've almost certainly started your day with a syrupy stack at some point in recent memory (via National Today).

If you've just realized that it's been too long since you've enjoyed a pancake, you might consider making your way to the capital of fried breakfast batter, The International House of Pancakes, or IHOP. Despite glibly reinventing itself as the burger joint IHOb a few years back, IHOP is undoubtedly founded on flapjacks, and their menu features delicious pancake flavors like Mexican tres leches, lemon ricotta mixed berry, New York cheesecake, and at one point, even Oreo pancakes.

Though pancakes are often enjoyed piled atop one another in a tower of fried, fluffy deliciousness that scrapes the sky, each individual flapjack seems, at first glance, to be rather flat. However, a scientific study reveals that pancakes, when examined up close, are actually more reminiscent of a rugged mountain than a rolling plain.

Is Kansas flatter than an IHOP pancake?

According to a study published in the Annals of Improbable Research that was carried out by scientists at both Southwest Texas State University and Arizona State University, Kansas is indeed flatter than a fritter, as your grandma might say. For the study, researchers purchased a pancake from a local IHOP, removed a two-inch section from the flapjack, and tested its topography. They discovered that if Kansas were shrunk down to a millimeter scale, the IHOP pancake would undeniably be less smooth than Kansas. On a scale the scientists created where 1.0 represented exact flatness, Kansas scored a near-perfect 0.9997, while the pancake section measured a relatively lumpy 0.957.

However, if Kansas is smoother than a pancake, then many other states are also flapjack-flat. The Lawrence Journal-World, when discussing the aforementioned study, explains that under certain parameters, Kansas is actually middle-of-the-road in terms of flatness. When you look at the difference in altitude between the highest and lowest elevations in a particular state, Florida is the flattest, while Kansas ranks 22nd. If you divide each state into 1-kilometer sections and average out the flatness, Delaware leads the pack, and Kansas tails all the way behind at 32nd. As such, an IHOP pancake is actually more topographically diverse than a large chunk of the country.

Why are pancakes so bumpy?

Discover Magazine lets us in on another flat fact. Apparently, if you compressed the Earth so that it was the size of a pool ball, the planet would actually be smoother than a pool ball, which is manufactured to be as perfectly round as possible. With that knowledge in mind, it's no wonder why many states are flatter than an IHOP pancake, a fried food with plenty of opportunity to develop inconsistencies.

To ensure the perfect fry, IHOP employees perform a rigorous process when making their pancakes. In a 2015 interview with Delish, IHOP's culinary innovation vice president explains that the pancake batter is perfectly worked, chilled, and fried with minimal fat on a scorching flat top. Nevertheless, even the elegantly prepared IHOP pancake can't avoid the inevitable irregularities inherent to the griddling process. According to the Australian Academy of Science, when you're frying up your pancake, bubbles of CO₂ gas develop in the batter, which will inevitably result in a fluffy flapjack that is more mountainous than Kansas.