Denny’s holds a place of reverence in the collective consciousness of teens across North America. With most locations open 24 hours, the diner is the ideal place to congregate during the wee hours of the morning over flaccid pancakes and “Grand Slamwiches.”
But with unlimited hours comes the inevitable question: How long is too long to stay at Denny’s?
One intrepid high school student set out to discover the limit because, well, he could. Hayden Anderson entered an Edmonton Denny’s at 4 p.m. on Monday with one goal in mind: to see how long he could last without getting kicked out or passing out.
“I posted the question ‘How long could I stay in Denny’s’ to [Reddit], and everyone said, ‘As long as you want,’” Anderson told HuffPost Canada. “So I took that as a challenge.”
The 17-year-old, who described himself as a “lifelong Denny’s fan,” began documenting his journey on reddit, with regular updates on the food he was eating and the people he met.
“I’ve been sitting in the MacEwan Denny’s for five hours now. At this point I’m basically in it for the long haul,” Anderson wrote. “I have enough cash to order food every couple hours so I won’t get kicked out, so now I’m just curious if I can just chill here all night!”
The thread rocketed to the top of the Edmonton subreddit, with hundreds of supporters rallying behind Anderson’s quest for knowledge and glory.
“I just need you to know you’re my hero, and that Denny’s is just as beautiful as you are,” one user wrote.
Over the course of the stay, Anderson ate a day’s worth of meals. He started with a french toast slam, then some blueberry pancakes and capped it off by “daring” to get the meatloaf, which he said was a mistake.
Anderson was sure to tip the servers throughout the night.
“At first they were cool with me. Then around hour six to seven, they seemed confused. Then once I explained, they became super supportive and gave me all the coffee I needed,” he said.
Anderson isn’t the first to attempt a Denny’s all-nighter — though it’s unclear whether anyone has attempted a 17-hour slog. Many reddit users shared stories of late-night study sessions at the 24-hour diner.
“When I worked overnights and was in graduate school, I used to arrive at Denny’s around 10 p.m. and did school work until 7 or 8 a.m.,” one user wrote. “I would get an evening snack and a coke, many refills, and then breakfast. I always tipped a $20 before the main servers left for the day.”
Denny’s Canada did not respond to HuffPost Canada’s request for comment.
Try as he might, Anderson’s marathon is only the second-wildest thing to happen in an Alberta Denny’s. In 2015, musician Marilyn Manson was famously “sucker punched” at a Denny’s in Lethbridge. That same Denny’s played host to a patron’s viral stomach-churning racist rant in 2018.
WATCH: Woman gives profane rant at Lethbridge Denny’s. Story continues below.
Unfortunately, Anderson’s experiment was cut short by the constraints of academia. Around 8 a.m., after just over 16 hours in the Denny’s, he had to depart to make it to class.
What did he take away from this experience?
“I learned that the meatloaf is a no-go and how to use logarithms to solve exponential equations,” he said.
While we applaud his dedication to his studies, we can’t help but wonder what could’ve been. One day someone will cross the 24-hour barrier in a Denny’s and become a national hero.
Until then, we can only wait.