We get a lot of questions about why we use the name “Dancakes”, which is fair, only one of our chef’s jackets has the name “Dan” on it. What usually follows is an abbreviated answer about why we decided to keep the name.
Now, I’m more than happy to keep answering that question until the end of time, because that means I’m still working and people still want to hire us to make pancake art.
For those of you who like to read long winded, unabridged versions of our history however, this is for you.
Dancakes is called Dancakes, well, because of Dan. He and Hank founded the company shortly after appearing on the Today Show, and he was the only pancake artist. He was the guy making TV appearances, he was the hands drawing the pancakes in videos that would go viral, the guy making pancake faces at events, etc. He was the face of the company. It was his artistic endeavor, so it only made sense. And conveniently you could just change the “P” from pancakes to a “D” and all of sudden you had this really cool business name.
Over time Dancakes built up a level of notoriety and brand recognition that would get Dancakes hired simply by word of mouth. Which is not a trivial thing to accomplish.
Eventually the work-load that Dan was under was getting to be a bit ridiculous. Turning down work on a regular basis simply because they were already overbooked. It had gotten as big as it could with just one artist, and the pragmatic solution was to grow.
Enter Ben Daniel (that’s me), a friend of Dan and Hank, we met in the underground/indie music scene of St. Louis. I thought pancake art was really neat, and it was cool that I had an internet famous friend, but I had no intention of doing it myself. However, at a certain point that all changed, and now I’m nearly 4 years into an indescribably weird pancake art career. It’s a pretty wild story, but a long one, lucky for you it’s in another blog post, right here.
About a year into my tenure we came across another artist trying out pancake art, Dana Baldus. She saw some videos of our pancake art and decided to give it a shot herself, and after a few tries she made something she was happy with and posted it to her Instagram with #dancakes. It was just a fun thing she wanted to try out, she certainly didn’t have any expectation that anyone at Dancakes would see it or even care if they did.
To her surprise, we did see it, and we thought she had a lot of potential. So we contacted her and eventually offered her a job as a Dancakes Artist, which she, much to our delight, accepted.
A lot of things have changed within the company during that time. When Dana came on board Hank and Dan were still driving the ship, we were just along for the ride. But as time went on both of us started taking on more and more roles within the company, integrating more and more of our own ideas and collaborating on new ones. Naturally, over time, the dynamic within the company started to shift, it eventually became clear that it was no longer just Dan and Hank’s baby and it no longer made sense to keep the ownership structure as if it was.
Restructuring the ownership of the company was not something that Dana nor I presented, and this is an important point, this idea came purely from the minds of Dan and Hank. Which is a testament to their character, they both owned 50% of the company and could have easily kept it that way. They didn’t have to give up half of their share, they were under no obligation to do so, but out of their own sense of fairness they decided it was the right thing to do. I’m still blown away by this decision, and forever grateful.
So what exactly does this have to do with the name “Dancakes”? I’ll explain.
With this new ownership structure we’ve talked about a lot of things, one of those was changing the name. Did we still want to be called Dancakes when Dan was no longer the only artist/owner? Businesses change their names all the time, we would still keep our social media following(s) and over time the new name would become just as recognizable, if not more, than the original. We certainly wouldn’t be the first, nor the last to successfully pull it off.
In the end though we came to a fairly simple conclusion; We’re all Dan. Meaning, We are Ben Daniel, Dana Baldus and Daniel Drake. By some strange stroke of cosmic luck we all share the same 3 letters that are so important to our “brand”. It still works, it still makes sense, it’s a great name and a great story, so we decided to keep it.
So, when someone asks me at an event, “Are you Dan?” I always start my reply with…
“I’m one of them.”