Delta Chi brothers serve all-you-can-eat pancakes, cheaply

By Natalie Bigley

Every Thursday, some of the guys in Delta Chi fraternity sit down for dinner. However, it’s not the usual meal of meat and potatoes.

Instead, the guys enjoy breakfast in the evening, drowning themselves in an ocean of maple syrup and a bottomless stack of pancakes.

You don’t have to be greek to get a taste of Mrs. Butterworth on your plate at Delta Chi’s Unlimited Pancake Thursdays. The brothers invite everyone, and the all-you-can-eat pancakes cost $2. They also sell hot chocolate for 25 cents and two hashbrowns for a dollar.

Ben Minkoff, a senior in Delta Chi, said the pancake donation is a delicious investment.

“You can’t beat that price in today’s failing economy,” he said.

The endless pancake idea started about a year ago with a suggestion from Eddie Hujber, now a Pitt senior and member of Delta Chi. The idea came to him one day when he realized how cheap and easy it was to make pancakes. Combining those ideas with his love of cooking, he thought, would be the start of a new tradition, and so began unlimited pancake night.

An aroma of maple syrup lingers in the air at the Delta Chi house on pancake night. More than 40 showed up at last night’s event — brothers as well as sorority members and non-greeks, all craving a breakfast fix.

The house is animated with hungry people, but the action takes place in the kitchen. Ben is in charge of the griddles while Eddie, the Chef Boyardee of the Delta Chi house, mixes the batter and flips the pancakes. He estimated that the fraternity uses about a half gallon of syrup and five pounds of pancake mix every Thursday.

The guys toss the pancakes high into the air with precision. Senior Dan Thomas said that one night, Eddie tossed a pancake across the room, giving someone an opportunity to catch it with their plate.

Eddie has developed a technique for the perfect pancake.

“Much of it is a trade secret,” Eddie said. “We employ the double flip technique to cook each side twice to make sure it’s crispy on the outside but well done in the middle.”

Technique is important, but the brothers view making pancakes as an art. They cook standard circular pancakes, but Eddie said he and Ben have made giraffes, a snowman and Mickey Mouse in the past, among other creatures. Once, Ben used his creative genius to make a pancake in the shape of a hydrogen atom, complete with orbitals.

But if enjoying animal-shaped pancakes is not enough, there’s more. Pancake eaters are encouraged to BYOT — bring your own toppings. Ben said as long as it’s logistically possible, it can (and will) be put into a pancake. They’ve used M&M’s, fruit and candy bars. Chocolate chips can be added for free.

“Pancakes are more or less the greatest invention of God — God’s magnum opus,” Eddie said. “Every time you bite into pancakes, they remind you of mom’s pancakes.”

For one brother, this feeling hits very close to home. Pancake eating has become his forte and claim to fame.

Last February, junior Rob Hackett set a record of eating the most pancakes in one sitting. The 6-foot-2 pancake destroyer ate 20 whole pancakes and recently broke his own record by eating 22. Brother Matt Balsbaugh said someone tries to beat Rob’s record every few weeks, but they don’t even get close.

As a reward for his efforts, Rob received a small trophy of a bottle of maple syrup.

“The first time I set the record, I went upstairs and laid on my bed and thought I was going to die. I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” he said.

When it comes to pancake personal preference, each brother has his own way to eat them.

Dan, recently crowned Homecoming King, likes his pancakes with chocolate chips and soaked in syrup. He also must have ketchup on his hash browns.

“People are afraid of the ketchup and syrup mix, but it’s like a combination of sweet and salty,” Dan said. “I’ve always put weird things on my breakfast foods.”

Despite charging $2 per person, Eddie said the house makes money from the pancakes. It’s nice to make a profit, he said.

The profits originally went to buying more pancake supplies, but as more people come, the fraternity might start donating part of its profits to Delta Chi’s national philanthropy, The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

But for Ben, pancake night is less about the money and more about the actual pancake eating.

“Pancakes are a great way to have a good time, bring people together and spend a Thursday evening,” he said.

Although Market Central’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner rivaled Delta Chi’s pancake night yesterday, Eddie said he was happy with the turnout.

“Only a fully Thanksgiving feast can even have a chance of pulling people away from unlimited pancakes,” he said.