Odd News Show

Battered, Whipped, and Flattened: Inside the Violent World of Competitive Pancake Baking

Every year on International Pancake Day competitors race to set a new pancake-centric record. With simultaneous events occurring in Liberal, Kansas and Olney, England it’s truly an international pancake baking event.

By Jonas Polsky · February 14, 2024

Organizers carefully placing and measuring the world's longest continual line of pancakes KSCB/The Legend Kansas City Radio

There’s a red circle on the calendar. No matter where you are in the room, it feels like the circle is staring at you. Each time you look over it seems to have jumped forward a few days, quietly stalking you like a tiger. The hands on the clock silently sweep forward without pause, and before you know it, the red circle has arrived.

It’s International Pancake Day.

The next twenty-four-hours feel like being stuck inside a pressure cooker. It’s the day when pancake baking records are set, and the old records are shattered. A day when legends are toppled, and new legends rise. From highest pancake flip, to longest pancake line, everything’s up for grabs.

On International Pancake Day you have no allies, only enemies – because everyone’s looking for a shot at the title.

Your chest feels tight, it’s hard to breathe. Vision blurs, your head is swimming. Your nostrils are filled with the inescapable aroma of hot pancakes. Everywhere you look someone is wearing a white chef’s hat. You’ve entered the pancake arena, at an undisclosed location in the small town of Liberal, Kansas.

The actual location of the record attempts is being kept a closely-held secret to prevent pancake sabotage – or a crepe d’etat. Everyone in attendance is on edge, the fear radiating from them is palpable.

A stack of pancakes like the ones from the competition  MEREDITH FOOD STUDIOS

The previous pancake flip record of 31 feet 1 inches was set in 2020. If someone were to sprint in and tackle the pancake flipper during their attempt – the new record would be invalidated.

But the highest pancake flip is just a sideshow. The real prize on International Pancake Day is the longest continual line of pancakes. It’s the gold standard, and considered by many to be the Rolls Royce of competitive pancake challenges. The winners of the longest continual line of pancakes will be memorialized forever in the coveted Pancake Hall of Fame, so the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

The year was 2020, the setting; London, England.

Across a zigzagging slapdash of folding dinner tables laid the pride of the Royal Family. An uninterrupted line of pancakes stretching nearly as far as the eye can see, measured at an impressive 429.25 feet. It was the world’s LONGEST uninterrupted line of pancakes – up until that point.

We return to present day Kansas.

The auditorium is filled with an even longer line of folding tables. The seemingly-endless trail of 2,800 pancakes have been arranged to spell out one gigantic message: “75th INTERNATIONAL PANCAKE DAY.”

Up close and personal with the stars of the show  KSCB/The Legend Kansas City Radio

The total length of this enormous message, spelled out entirely with pancakes was 923.23 feet. The throng of attendees erupted at the news. America had bested England once again.

The uneaten pancakes would be transported to a local food bank. Which means that if each visitor were to eat a single pancake, it would account for 2,800 meals. If they each receive half of a pancake, that number DOUBLES.

As the crowds trickled out of the auditorium, and the last bits of confetti slowly drifted to the floor it felt like a new day in Liberal, Kansas. A towering colossus of pancake power had appeared in this tiny town, and the world had been put on notice. New pancake records had been set, but in the cutthroat world of competitive pancake baking, how long would they last?

The dust settles and you return to your normal life. Day in and day out, the same familiar routine. You forget about the pancakes, the measurements, the pressure. One morning a red circle appears on the calendar. 

International Pancake Day approaches.