When I was a kid everyone gave me career advice. Dad said, ‘Paul, you’ve got to study computers. Computers are selling like hotcakes.’ My brother said, ‘You’ve got to study programming. Dotcoms are selling like hotcakes.’ My brother-in-law told me, ‘Study real estate. You gotta flip properties. They’re selling like hotcakes.’ I gave it some thought and my first day of college I sat down across from my academic adviser and told her, ‘I want to study hotcakes.’ Hotcakes seemed to be the one consistently hot industry.
But would you believe there isn’t a single hotcakes degree offered at a US university. If hotcakes truly sell like hotcakes, why isn’t there a single hotcake company on the Fortune 500? Nobody ever whispers, ‘You see that girl in the fancy dress? She comes from hotcake money.’ I’ve never once met anyone in the hotcake industry. Nobody has ever handed me a business card that read ‘Paul Johnson Regional VP: Hotcakes Division’.
I figure ‘hotcakes’ became our benchmark for hot-selling products simply by virtue of being a product which began with the word ‘hot’. If this is true I assume we could just as easily have used any product name that started with ‘hot’.
‘Adele’s new single is selling like hot dogs!’
‘My hotcakes are selling like Hot Pockets!’
‘Adele’s new single Hot Pockets is selling like hot dogs! Let’s celebrate with hotcakes!’
There aren’t any hot dog billionaires or bachelors of hot dogs, but the brand Hot Pockets is owned by Nestle, a billion-dollar company, so maybe we’re getting hotter. Perhaps we shouldn’t insist on ‘hot’ as a prerequisite. Maybe there are no consistent hot-selling products and we should create a new idiom based on situational hot-selling products.
They’re selling like gym memberships in January.
They’re selling like barf bags at the Tilt-O-Whirl.
They’re selling like dandruff shampoo outside a Comic-Con convention.
They’re selling like homemade, organic, fair practice, non-GMO deodorant outside a yoga studio.
They’re selling like cheeseburgers in the alley behind a vegan restaurant.
They’re selling like earplugs at a children’s violin recital.
We probably also need a stock idiomatic expression for when a product is selling terribly, and it should probably begin with ‘cold’ like ‘cold cuts’ or ‘cold sore medication’. Just once I’d like to meet someone working in the hotcake industry so I can ask how his hotcakes are selling. He’d have to answer, ‘Actually, my hotcakes are selling like hotcakes.’ Or he’d have to say, ‘My hotcakes are not selling like hotcakes. My hotcakes are selling like Coldplay tickets.’