The Untold Truth Of Denny's Original Grand Slam

American diner chain Denny's is known for its surprisingly low prices and for serving breakfast all day. In a press release put out by the company in 2010, the CEO and President of Denny's, Nelson Marchioli, stated that they wanted to offer an alternative to fast food for economically conscious consumers and prove that it is possible to provide a sit-down dining experience without sacrificing savings or quality. Among the deals listed on the Denny's menu are several signature plates, or "Slams" that combine multiple breakfast foods to create one large meal. On the Denny's website, the Original Grand Slam is listed as consisting of two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two bacon strips, and two sausage links. Fast Food Menu Prices lists the cost of the Denny's Original Grand Slam as $7.99, but the price may vary from location to location, and depending on promotions.

Introduced in 1977, the Original Grand Slam first appeared on the menu at a Denny's location in Atlanta, Georgia to honor legendary baseball player and local hero Hank Aaron (via The New York Times). While playing for the Atlanta Braves three years earlier, Aaron broke baseball superstar Babe Ruth's record of 714 career home runs.

How does Denny's Original Grand Slam stack up to alternative versions?

The Original Grand Slam may have been inspired by Hank Aaron's baseball achievement, but it also seems to touch every base when it comes to breakfast cravings by combining pancakes, eggs, and breakfast meats. The basic Grand Slam scores some points on the nutrition scoreboard, too, with 900 calories and 2,240 mg of sodium (via Denny's menu). Calorie needs vary by age, gender, and lifestyle, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, but for a moderately active, young adult male the Original Grand Slam provides right around one-third of the needed energy. Adults across the board should get no more than 2,300 mg of sodium, per the FDA's sodium recommendation, and the Grand Slam will get them just about all the way there in one meal.

Denny's offers variations on the Grand Slam. The Fit Slam barely resembles the Original, with its egg-white scramble with spinach and tomatoes, English muffin, turkey bacon, and fruit. Less mouth-watering, maybe, but some diners might be enticed by the lower calorie (590) and sodium (1,060 mg) counts. Other Slam alternatives include the French Toast Slam, which substitutes French toast for pancakes; the All-American, which gives you scrambled eggs with cheddar, and the pancakes are replaced with hash browns and toast; and the Lumberjack, which is the Original plus ham, hash browns, and toast. The calorie king among these is the Lumberjack, weighing in somewhere around 1,300 calories.

Denny's likes to give away the Original Grand Slam

Want to score an Original Grand Slam for free? Spoon University says Denny's will give you one of the popular breakfast platters free of charge on your birthday. All you have to do is show an ID with your birth date listed on it — no need to sign up for any loyalty programs or download an app.

But if you really wanted to see people enjoying a free Grand Slam, you should have hit any Denny's location on the Tuesday after the 2009 Super Bowl. Denny's used the big game to advertise free Grand Slams for anyone who walked in the door that day, between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. (via CNN). The chain figured it might have given away more than 2 million of the breakfasts in a promotion that had people asking, "What's the catch?" No catch — but breakfast food costs are so low, Denny's may have broken even with all the orange juice and coffee it sold alongside those Slams. The chain was also trying to buy repeat business.

Denny's also has been known to give away Grand Slams on Veteran's Day to people who have served in the military (via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Denny's turned the Grand Slam into an animated series

The Original Grand Slam is so popular, Denny's produced an animated web series titled "The Grand Slams," featuring anthropomorphized breakfast foods named Egg, Bacon, Sausage, and Pancake getting into all sorts of hijinks. You can watch the entire series on Denny's YouTube Channel, where there are currently more than 30 episodes.

A quick review of the series suggests Denny's target audience was not the part of the customer base that takes advantage of the senior discount. A minor police officer character named Bold Coffee catches pancake snorting powdered sugar in one episode. In an episode called "Hittin' the Syrup," the characters overindulge in the sticky, sweet stuff and wind up at a bacon strip club. (Get it?)

As you get to know the main characters, you realize Sausage has an inferiority complex owing to Bacon's immense popularity. (In 2011 and again in 2013, as Foodbeast reported, Denny's devoted a whole side menu to bacon.) Pancake isn't very smart, and Hashbrown is a side character who wears overalls and a literal tinfoil hat while promoting conspiracy theories. "The Grand Slams" animated series ended its run in 2017, shortly after QAnon arrived on the scene (via BBC). Maybe the Hashbrown character just wasn't funny anymore.

The Denny's Grand Slam has inspired some quirky pop-culture moments

A breakfast as iconic and enduring as Denny's Original Grand Slam was bound to make an impact on popular culture. One of the most famous Denny's Grand Slams on social media isn't even food-related. It's a four-minute video of the Houston punk-metal band Live Without screaming and headbanging its way through a late-night performance in a Denny's dining room. "What the f***'s up, Denny's?" the singer yells into the mic at one point — a moment that helped the video go viral on Twitter in 2018. The band has less than 10,000 YouTube subscribers, but its video has been viewed more than 2.2 million times since it was posted, in 2013. The band shared a grimy Denny's floor with four other groups, and they dubbed the hastily organized show "The Grand Slam," according to Vice. The band explained in its video description that the Denny's location was closing permanently, and the restaurant's owners were cool with the bands putting on a show there.

The Denny's Grand Slam had another YouTube moment in June 2020, when Ordinary Sausage, a channel with more than 600,000 subscribers, applied its gimmick — making sausage out of just about anything — to an Original Grand Slam (with hash browns). The Ordinary Sausage guy ground and encased the breakfast into four individual links. What you might call the ultimate breakfast sausage tasted like a breakfast burrito and attracted nearly half a million YouTube views.

Denny's once had a $300 Grand Slam on the menu

You may be thinking the Denny's Original Grand Slam is so basic you can't even make good sausage out of it, but a location in Manhattan once gave the classic breakfast a luxury makeover. When Denny's announced it was coming to the Financial District, unhappy neighbors pictured criminals and rowdy teens patronizing the diner at all hours (via Eater New York). So the owner made some concessions, according to a separate Eater New York article. The Denny's closed between midnight and 5 a.m., and it gave the locals something they wanted: a fancy bar featuring, among other things, prosecco on tap.

During a community meeting, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the owners of the new Manhattan Denny's came in with a sample menu that included a joke item: a $300 Grand Slam. The crowd embraced the idea, and the joke became a reality: the Grand Cru Slam. Undoubtedly the world's fanciest Denny's Grand Slam, the Grand Cru was two Original Grand Slam breakfasts served with a bottle of Dom Perignon Premier Cru champagne and a high five from the bartender. (No birthday freebies, we're guessing.) The bar went through a case of Dom Perignon during its first week of business, in 2014. Later, it sold about one Grand Cru Slam a week, to tourists who had heard about it on David Letterman's show.

Sadly, the Grand Cru Slam is no more. A Denny's apparently wasn't a good fit for New York's Financial District, and the location had closed by early 2018.