Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Pancake passion?

Justin Bieber fans saw red when the teen phenom was snapped arm-in-arm with Selena Gomez in Philadelphia on Thursday -- following a one-on-one breakfast at an International House of Pancakes, where TMZ reports the duo were "cuddly" and holding hands inside.

But Gomez, 18, tells there was nothing romantic about their syrupy-sweet outing.

"It was pancakes! Oh my gosh!" Gomez told Us Friday at Z100's Jingle Ball in NYC. The Disney star said that Bieber, 16, is "one of my best friends...It was just pancakes!"

In a chat with MTV News, she added,"Who doesn't like pancakes? We were both performing in the same place so we went and had pancakes together. That's all it is. All innocent."

She explained how they got close in the first place: "I love Justin. When he first started to come over from Canada his manager contacted me and he just said that he would like to meet me and he was just such a good kid...I feel like a big sister now, 'cause I want to protect him."