DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s one of the sweetest days of the year!

Tuesday, March 7 is National Pancake Day and to celebrate, IHOP restaurants across metro Detroit are giving away FREE short stacks of buttermilk pancakes.

In return for the free pancakes, guests are encouraged to make a voluntary donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The goal is to raise $3.5 million.

To find a local IHOP restaurant or to donate online, click here. The National Pancake Day celebration runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with some locations extending the celebration until 10 p.m. Limit one short stack, three pancakes, per guest.

So, where did Pancake Day — much like Shrove Tuesday — get its origins? It’s a tradition that dates back several centuries to when the English prepared for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products.

IHOP restaurants expect to serve more than 5 million free pancakes on National Pancake Day this year – which when stacked, would be nearly 19 miles high.  Since the inception of National Pancake Day in 2006, IHOP has raised $24 million to support charities in the local communities in which they operate.

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