What happens when you give a 12-year-old perfectionist a messy stack of pancakes?
When said adolescent is Lake Highlands neighbor Justin Yarbrough, you get Pancake Perfection, an invention that cuts pancakes into perfect squares and slathers them with syrup at the same time — no batteries needed.
Today Yarbrough is a junior at Lake Highlands High School, and he just received a patent for Pancake Perfection, which wowed judges back in 2009 during the Richardson ISD Invention Convention.
Yarbrough was a sixth-grader at White Rock Elementary when he entered Pancake Perfection in the convention, which has been held in Richardson for 30 years and is open to all RISD students from kindergarten through 12th-grade.
He built a prototype out of a pizza cutter with a syrup bottle stuck to the handle. Then he set up a booth, where he demonstrated his device over and over again for the judges and other students. Children and adults alike loved the device (and the pancakes) and Yarbrough won Best in Show, Best Invention Related to Storage and Organization, and the Rube Goldberg award. Best of all, he won the Most Patentable Award from the worldwide law firm Baker Botts LLP, which has been the driver behind the five-year journey to patent Yarbrough’s creation, although there’s never been a guarantee.
“They didn’t know it could be patented for sure,” Yarbrough says. “The attorneys are trying to see which [version] has the most potential, because if they get to a certain stage and it doesn’t work out, that’s a lot of money wasted.”
But the journey recently came to a close when Yarbrough received an official patent from the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Interesting side note: Yarbrough isn’t the only one in his family with a patent. His great uncle invented a no-sag gate in the ’50s, and his dad invented cardboard furniture for college students.
As for what’s next for Yarbrough, it’s hard to say. But regardless, his friends already are eager to share in his success.
“They’re like, ‘Can we star in your infomercial?’ ” he says with a laugh.