Join us on Facebook!
Join us in our 24 Hour Chatroom!
Check out TheOneRing.net on Twitter!
Join us on Instagram

Latest Tweets

  1. TheOneRing.net
    TheOneRing.net: Security cam footage proves that Gandalf is officially a disturber of the peace! #Happy4thofJuly https://t.co/xf2UgGtJOc

  2. TheOneRing.net
    TheOneRing.net: JRR Tolkien is like “I know a place” and it’s the same corner of the same pub every time https://t.co/hBaXoR81m2

  3. TheOneRing.net
    TheOneRing.net: You could have chosen a different screenshot in a story about COVID https://t.co/OoSrtdXunl

News Alerts

Get emailed with every new post!

Denny’s, Middle-earth’s Diner – ‘Hoom, don’t be hasty….’

October 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm by greendragon  - 

As we revealed yesterday, the diner chain Denny’s has secured a big Hobbit tie-in and is releasing a new, Hobbit menu plus collectible trading cards on November 6th.  Staffer greendragon had the pleasure of visiting Denny’s HQ to find out what this is all about, and she was surprised by what she discovered.  Here’s what she had to say:

OK, full disclosure here folks.  I have never been to a Denny’s.  I didn’t know what their food is like but I had my assumptions – fast food, all frozen, pre-cooked, processed rubbish, I thought…  And then I heard they were going to have a Hobbit movie tie-in campaign.  Hooommm.  Sounds like orc mischief to me; slap a few gimmicky names on a few already-designed dishes and make a fast buck.  Right?  Turns out, I was wrong; read on to find out what I discovered yesterday….

Denny’s are so proud of their new campaign that they took the bold step of inviting TheOneRing.net, along with other internet writers and bloggers – geeks and foodies! – to their headquarters to learn all about their plans for bringing Middle-earth into their restaurants.  That’s seven independent writers, many of whom may have arrived with the same doubts I had, all unleashed on the internet to say what they like about Denny’s!  As John Dillon, their Vice President of Marketing, remarked to me, ‘We knew it could backfire. But we felt so confident in what we’ve created, we invited you in….’

Truth is, I was surprised and impressed by what we learned, and by the ‘unexpected journey’ Denny’s themselves have undertaken.  First of all, a little perspective on this campaign:  these promotions are not quickly nor lightly decided.  Warner Bros. are very picky about who gets tie-ins to their movies; and for The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson himself looks at proposals for partners.  On Denny’s side, this is not the first time they have had a movie tie-in – just last holiday season, they had an Arthur Christmas promotion, and past partnerships include Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar.  They also turn down MANY invitations to work with movies.  When Warner Bros. approached them about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, however, they were excited.  As Sharon Lykins, Senior Director of Product Development, told us, ‘We saw it as a natural fit.  We thought about that scene [at Amon Sul] where they cook sausages in a skillet – it’s perfect for Denny’s!’

Warner Bros. had their own reasons for being interested in Denny’s.  The movie studio wanted somewhere which provided a ‘sit down atmosphere, an immersed experience’; a quick ‘in and out’ fast food venue was not what they were looking for.  With two geeks in their test kitchen – both Lykins and Senior Manager, Corporate Chef Scott Richard are fans, and Richard remarked that creating a Hobbit menu was ‘a dream come true’ – Denny’s accepted the challenge and set about convincing WB that they should indeed be the chain chosen for this promotion.

The test kitchen went to work, pondering, creating, and dismissing many ideas! ‘We had a genuine excitement and interest in this!  We wanted to build products that reflected hobbits … to be true to the ‘rustic’ feel of the Shire,’ said Lykins.  ‘All at Denny’s felt very strongly that this HAS to be authentic.  We wanted true fans to feel we had put some thought into it.’  (VP Dillon told me, ‘We knew if we only half did this, we’d screw it up – we had to go all out.’)  So naturally, they used mushrooms and ‘po-tay-toes’ in dishes; but they took it further than that.   For example, they considered Lembas bread French toast – but decided that true Lembas bread would be too hard.  Going back to the book, however, they noticed that Tolkien describes ‘two beautiful round seed-cakes’ in Bilbo’s pantry – so ‘Seed Cake French Toast’ made it onto the menu.  Those contents of Bilbo’s pantry, listed by the Professor, were the source of many ideas; they were also inspired by the scene with trolls William, Bert and Tom, and created a milk shake with s’mores cookie pieces as the ‘Lone-Lands Campfire Cookie Milk Shake’.

Many ideas were tried and dismissed – only the winning products, which would appeal both to Hobbit fans and to other diners in their restaurants, made the final list.  Eventually, having convinced WB that their campaign had thought and attention to detail behind it, and was ‘not just something on a cup,’ Denny’s won the rights to the tie-in campaign.

Denny’s knew, of course, that the promotion couldn’t only be about food; many fans are also collectors, and an exclusive collectible is part of any good movie tie-in.  For The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Denny’s have created twelve trading cards – and interestingly, so far these are the ONLY trading cards of any kind which will be released for the first Hobbit movie!  There are ten regular cards and two hard-to-find, exclusive cards.  Anyone purchasing an entrée from the Hobbit menu receives a packet containing two cards and a coupon for future use at Denny’s.  The cards are very nicely designed  – produced by Denny’s themselves, but of course carefully checked and approved by WB – and will satisfy those hoarding instincts amongst eager fans.

Next Denny’s needed an advertising campaign – and their PR folks have done a stellar job! For the first time in their history, Denny’s went with a ‘teaser campaign’ – and had a dwarvish expert from the movies write the runes for those billboards in Los Angeles!  Other fun images include Thror’s map wrapping silverware, and whipped cream on a smoothie, shaped like Gandalf’s hat!  The Hobbit menus are also a thing of beauty – wonderful pictures of Middle-earth, starting with Bag End, going up through rolling fields, to waterfalls, soaring eagles and way up on a snowy mountainside… a little Denny’s, precariously perched!  As well as these lovely menus, outlets will be decorated with signs and posters; servers will have buttons with the Hobbit acorn; and placemats will include four QR codes which can be scanned for exclusive content!

There is more to tell – and in a further post, I’ll share some ‘spoilers’ about the exclusive content and some other little secrets which we gleaned throughout the day.  Meanwhile, I can’t finish this post without saying a word or two about THE FOOD!  We were lucky enough to get a taste of all the new Hobbit menu items, and I was stunned by how good it all was.  (I was also impressed by the kitchen and pantry – full of actual FOOD, not chemicals!  Denny’s burger, for example, contains nothing but meat and a little salt; they’re always made fresh, so no need for preservatives.)

Believe me, I’m picky about my food, and if the trading cards were exciting but the food terrible, I’d write that here.  I have no vested interest in Denny’s; but the truth is, it was all delicious.  The ‘Hobbit Hole’ cheddar bun contained a fried egg in the middle, and the yolk was still runny and perfect for dipping the round ‘door’ of my hobbit hole!  The ‘Shire Sausage’ is a chunky, peppery, pork sausage – Denny’s were looking for an English style sausage, and as a Brit who bemoans the lack of English sausages in the US, I can testify that they’ve come pretty close.  The ‘Lone-lands Campfire Cookie Milk Shake’, which I mentioned above, was addictively delightful, and I’m still dreaming of the sinfully good ‘Radagast’s Red Velvet Pancake Puppies’ – hushpuppies of red velvet cake with white chocolate chips, accompanied by cream cheese icing for dipping!

It being holiday season, the menu wouldn’t be complete without turkey, and as well as a ‘Dwarves’ Turkey and Dressing Dinner’, there is ‘Gandalf’s Gobble Melt’ – a grilled turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry honey mustard sauce, with a side of gravy.

OK, this isn’t health food.  Sugary, cheesy, meaty and filling, it wouldn’t be great for you to eat it every day – but then, I wouldn’t eat my mother’s fabulous roast dinners and steamed puddings every day, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious!  For comfort food or for an indulgent treat, Denny’s menu is right on the money.

So – America’s diner becomes Middle-earth’s diner;  and in spite of my misgivings, it turns out to be a great idea.  Creative, fun food, carefully planned in reference to the film AND to Tolkien’s books; wonderful graphics and collectible cards; and all coming from a place of enthusiasm and passion on the part of Denny’s themselves.  Let me tell ya, if you want to feast like a hobbit, get down to your local Denny’s from November 6th.  Fans will love it; children will be excited; and Denny’s regulars will enjoy some new treats.  I know I’ll be back for more of those red velvet ‘puppies’….

 

 

 

 

Posted in Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, The Hobbit on October 24, 2012 by

41 responses to “Denny’s, Middle-earth’s Diner – ‘Hoom, don’t be hasty….’”

  1. David Marcenaro DeBernardis says:

    Denny’s is just as bad as you imagine, and these Hobbit dishes will be no different

  2. David Marcenaro DeBernardis says:

    Denny’s is just as bad as you imagine, and these Hobbit dishes will be no different

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Do you know if this Hobbit theme will tie into Canadian Dennys?

  4. I’ll have a pint of bitter, please?

  5. David – I believe its pretty clear by Greendragon’s post that she had the same reservations and was ultimately swayed. We are not receiving money or perks from Denny’s – so her opinion is truly unbiased. I (Calisuri) will be at least giving it a shot based on this information

  6. David – I believe its pretty clear by Greendragon’s post that she had the same reservations and was ultimately swayed. We are not receiving money or perks from Denny’s – so her opinion is truly unbiased. I (Calisuri) will be at least giving it a shot based on this information

  7. mildred snitzer says:

    dennys makes me think of fat white trash on rascals. glad to see they are milking every penny out of this

  8. TheFrosty says:

    Okay I’m in.

  9. TheFrosty says:

    Okay I’m in.

  10. TheFrosty says:

    Okay I’m in.

  11. John Blake says:

    The Denny’s located at Flying J truck stops are awesome (maybe to keep patrons on truckin’in). The food at these places are comparable to Chilis. Appleby’s maybe even better. I have eaten at regular Denny’s before and the truck stop ones are definitely better.

  12. John Blake says:

    The Denny’s located at Flying J truck stops are awesome (maybe to keep patrons on truckin’in). The food at these places are comparable to Chilis. Appleby’s maybe even better. I have eaten at regular Denny’s before and the truck stop ones are definitely better.

  13. Debbie says:

    I have not eaten in a Dennys for at least a couple of decades due to the way some of the ones in the South treated African American customers in the past. Locally, we have had the police called a few times to one of the two in our city. I wish they had not been awarded the tie-in, but I will not patronize them just to get Hobbit stuff.

  14. Debbie says:

    I have not eaten in a Dennys for at least a couple of decades due to the way some of the ones in the South treated African American customers in the past. Locally, we have had the police called a few times to one of the two in our city. I wish they had not been awarded the tie-in, but I will not patronize them just to get Hobbit stuff.

  15. Debbie says:

    I have not eaten in a Dennys for at least a couple of decades due to the way some of the ones in the South treated African American customers in the past. Locally, we have had the police called a few times to one of the two in our city. I wish they had not been awarded the tie-in, but I will not patronize them just to get Hobbit stuff.

  16. Debbie says:

    I have not eaten in a Dennys for at least a couple of decades due to the way some of the ones in the South treated African American customers in the past. Locally, we have had the police called a few times to one of the two in our city. I wish they had not been awarded the tie-in, but I will not patronize them just to get Hobbit stuff.

  17. JOSHUA says:

    Ooohhh… food direct from Middle- Earth! Brilliant 😀 Hope they had this back home.

  18. JOSHUA says:

    Ooohhh… food direct from Middle- Earth! Brilliant 😀 Hope they had this back home.

  19. JOSHUA says:

    Ooohhh… food direct from Middle- Earth! Brilliant 😀 Hope they had this back home.

  20. I eat very healthy, but I’m willing to cheat with foods once in a blue-moon. However, if they don’t have vegetarian/vegan items on the menu, no way I’m patronizing them.

  21. I eat very healthy, but I’m willing to cheat with foods once in a blue-moon. However, if they don’t have vegetarian/vegan items on the menu, no way I’m patronizing them.

  22. Cami says:

    How awesome! I’m definitely going to have to see if I can find a Denny’s in the area to try out that menu… Sadly, I don’t think we actually have one in town.

  23. Cami says:

    How awesome! I’m definitely going to have to see if I can find a Denny’s in the area to try out that menu… Sadly, I don’t think we actually have one in town.

  24. Joel Bion says:

    I happen to BE IN a Dennys as I read this, and their food is exactly what you expect – it is diner food. That’s not misleading, as they advertise themselves as “America’s Diner.” It’s not “America’s ProBiotic Salad Bar” or “Amercia’s Overpriced Slow-Service French Restaurant Laden with Heavy Sauces” Those who are complaining about Dennys in this thread are entitled to their opinion, but I am happy to say that as far as I am concerned, they are consistent, decent diner food.

  25. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  26. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  27. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  28. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  29. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  30. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  31. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  32. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  33. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  34. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  35. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  36. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  37. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  38. Felice says:

    Do Denny’s plan to offer the Hobbit-themed meals just while the first movie is released, or will this continue until the final movie release ? I hope to travel to the USA again for Christmas 2013 and would love to try some of the menus then if possible.

  39. Leah says:

    “for The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson himself looks at proposals for partners”
    I really had to comment on this one. I don’t know how much PJ hangs out in the States, but if he talked to the people I hang out with, maybe he wouldn’t have picked Denny’s. Most of my friends would probably say it’s a place to go when there’s nothing much around. I don’t think it’s the kind of place that would be a favorite with Tolkien fans, either; I feel like they tend to be more nerdy (read: local/organic-loving) and less likely to frequent a chain like Denny’s. Even if the food is good, I’m not a fan of this idea. Sorry to side with the negative Nellies here but that’s my true opinion!

  40. Sleepy Maggie says:

    I like Denny’s well enough – all the ones I’ve been in have been clean and quiet (because they have carpeted floors) and the service was good. So was the food (I do NOT believe that sweetened bread products, even if they have a little bran thrown in to hide the fact that they’re cake, constitute breakfast, let alone “healthy food.” It isn’t breakfast unless there’s some protein in it!) IMHO the coffee was wretched, but I’m very picky about my coffee 🙂

    I was boycotting Denny’s for a few years because of their past policy of treating minority customers like rabid dogs, but that was decades ago and they have changed management since then and are no longer like that. Proof of this is that there are now fewer than a dozen Denny’s left in North Carolina, where many of the franchise owners resented being forced to go along with the new “treat minority customers like human beings” policy and closed up shop in protest.

    Unfortunately, I live in NC, and the closest Denny’s to me is three hours away in Virginia 🙁 But you know – if I leave right after Breakfast, I can probably get there in time for Second Breakfast!

  41. Sleepy Maggie says:

    Ah, yes, that is the sad part: you can’t get a pint of bitter with any Denny’s meal. *sigh*

Leave a Reply