The Free-Food Fiesta Rages on With Whataburger and IHOP

Gratis grub is gratis grub, no matter how revolting. The last week has seen food outlets embrace this mantra with abandon. Whataburger and IHOP won't be left out of the party.

Today is Whataburger's 60th anniversary. To celebrate it, the company is holding "Orange Night Out," for which Dallas-area, dine-in patrons will receive one free from 5-8 p.m. As the event's name suggests, customers must wear Whataburger's signature color, orange, never mind that wearing orange will get you a free knuckle sandwich in another part of the world. However, "only wearing an orange accessory (hat, scarf) does not qualify," says Whataburger's director of operations, Jeff Simpson.

IHOP has a more "beneficent" goal in mind. From 4-10 p.m., now until August 31, the greasy-spoon mega-chain is offering children under 12 years of age a free meal (with the purchase of an adult entree) in order to alleviate the costs of sundry scholastic items. "The busy back to school season plus the added financial burden of school supplies makes for a hectic time for many families," says senior marketing VP Carolyn O'Keefe. "With our August Kids Eat Free promotion, IHOP provides families the chance to relax, connect and keep the family-focused fun of summer alive during this busy time period."

Both companies are banking on the dependability their homogenized pabulum give consumers in an economically volatile period. And, frankly, who's thick enough to pass up free food?

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