Elvis Presley loved to eat, and his culinary cravings were just as extraordinary as his stage presence. Most of us know he liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches. However, he had plenty of other favorites, too. Much of the food Presley grew up eating was soul food, which his cooks at Graceland eventually made for him. Going from a childhood of lack to a lifestyle where he could have as much of whatever food he wanted any time he wanted it meant that he often overindulged to an astounding degree. Presley expected to be able to order food at home or away at any hour he had a craving. At Graceland, he often preferred having his food carried up to him in bed.
One of his cooks, Mary Jenkins Langston, said in "The Burger and the King" documentary that "the only thing in life he got any enjoyment out of was eating. He liked his food real rich." He was also a creature of habit and didn't like change in his food. So, he would order people to bring familiar foods to him or make familiar foods for him no matter if he was touring in Germany, at home, or in Vegas.
Unfortunately, his metabolism didn't keep up with his eating habits and Presley weighed around 350 pounds when he died. As we uncover a list of the food that rocked his world, we think you'll understand Presley's food obsession a little more.
Before we go any further with a list of what Elvis Presley loved to eat, you have to understand his deep affection for bacon. Bacon and bacon grease are essential seasonings in Southern cuisine. Having grown up in Tupelo, Mississippi, Southern food was a big part of his life, so it's no wonder that bacon was important to him. He liked it alone or added to nearly anything, and we don't blame him because it's extremely tasty. However, it did add lots of fat, calories, and cholesterol to his already-indulgent diet. He even supposedly created bacon-wrapped party meatballs to serve at Graceland parties.
After Presley's rise to fame and move to Graceland in Memphis, cooks made sure bacon was always in the fridge so they would never run out. Supposedly, the chef kept a stash of it cooked and ready for cooking and snacking, and Presley would eat a whole pound of it at a time. There's a rumor that Presley preferred his bacon burnt, but one of his Graceland cooks, Mary Jenkins Langston, told the South Bend Tribune, "It's not true ... He liked his bacon very crisp" (via The New York Times).
Grilled Peanut Butter And Banana Sandwiches
If you haven't heard of anything else Elvis Presley liked to eat, you've likely heard of his affection for grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. In Presley's eyes, this famed sandwich was gooey, sweet perfection. It took a while for his chef at Graceland to finally get it right. To meet with Presley's approval, it was necessary to start with toasted bread and use about five tablespoons of butter to grill each sandwich. So, you ended up with perfectly toasted bread that was infused and dripping with both peanut butter and butter.
Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen, author of "The I Love Elvis Cookbook" says, "Elvis loved bacon on just about everything, including his famous Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich" (via Salon). This makes sense since this sandwich was likely inspired by the fool's gold loaf, another sandwich he loved that featured peanut butter and bacon. You can even make the PB&B sandwich with bacon grease instead of butter.
If you're in Memphis, you can sit in Presley's favorite booth at the Arcade Restaurant (one of Presley's favorite Memphis spots) and order a peanut butter and banana sandwich similar to the one he loved. However, the sandwich has only been on the menu there since 2001. While Presley never actually ate a PB&B sandwich there, the restaurant sells 100 a week on a regular week and 300 a week during the annual Elvis Week in August.
Fool's Gold Loaf
One day, a friend told Elvis Presley about this outrageous sandwich he'd heard of at the Colorado Mine Co. in Denver, Colorado, called a fool's gold loaf. So, they hopped on a plane to give it a try. It was love at first bite. The official recipe starts with toasting a loaf of French white bread with two tablespoons of margarine slathered on the outside. Then, you hollow the loaf and stuff it with a whole jar of smooth peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and a pound of crispy bacon.
Presley enjoyed the sandwich so much that he once made a special flight to Denver in the middle of the night just to satisfy his craving. The restaurant delivered 22 of the gigantic sandwiches to his plane on the Denver runway, and then he immediately flew back to Graceland.
The Colorado Mine Company closed in 1982. However, four years later, one of the cooks who used to make the sandwich for Presley opened up Nick's Cafe in Golden, Colorado, and started serving the sandwich there. The sandwich at Nick's Cafe thankfully looked more like an ordinary sandwich than the behemoth loaf Presley originally ordered. Unfortunately, as of 2022, Nick's Cafe is permanently closed, too. So, there's no longer any place to get an authentic version of this sandwich as Presley would've liked it.
Elvis Presley was especially fond of breakfast food and always insisted on a king-sized breakfast with the simple components he grew up eating. So, there wasn't anything fancy like omelets on the menu. He also was fond of eating breakfast in bed. Who cares if you get crumbs and bacon grease in the sheets when you have someone to wash the sheets for you?
With his love for bacon, you can imagine that his breakfasts contained plenty. His cook Mary Jenkins Langston said, ''For breakfast, he'd have homemade biscuits fried in butter, sausage patties, four scrambled eggs, and sometimes fried bacon. I'd bring the tray up to his room, he'd say, 'This is good, Mary.' He'd have butter running down his arms" (via The New York Times). Some other breakfast foods he liked included fried potatoes, melon cubes, pancakes with applesauce and melted butter, and freshly baked rolls. He was even known to eat grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches for breakfast. He'd wash it all down with coffee.
Elvis Presley loved meatloaf so much that he once requested it daily for six months straight. (Some sources even say it was an eight-month meatloaf stint rather than six.) However long he was stuck on meatloaf, it's probably safe to say that it was one of his favorite foods. "The Presley Family Cookbook" (written by Elvis' father Vernon Presley and his long-time Graceland cook Nancy Rooks) contains the family's meatloaf recipe. The recipe calls for ground beef, bread cubes, wheat germ, minced garlic, celery, Vidalia onions, eggs, salt, and pepper. The bread cubes and wheat germ help keep the ground beef together in the loaf pan. Unlike traditional meatloaf recipes with ketchup on top, the Presley family meatloaf was topped with tomato juice that thickened during the cooking process. It was a clear favorite, and Rooks made this recipe for the King of Rock and Roll (and meatloaf) over and over.
Graceland has also offered a postcard with a different recipe for meatloaf that adds bell pepper, uses crackers instead of bread and wheat germ, and adds ketchup to the tomato sauce topping. So, it seems as if Graceland cooks made it two different ways.
Memphis has plenty of places to get great barbecue, and Elvis Presley had a few favorites. One served classic Memphis-style barbecue, while the other served a more unique style.
One barbecue place he liked to visit was Jim Neely's Interstate Bar-B-Que, where they serve various cuts of pork and chopped beef. The restaurant's chopped BBQ pork sandwich with coleslaw may have been The King's favorite item to order here.
Another favorite Memphis barbecue restaurant for Presley was Rendezvous Ribs, which used paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, mustard seeds, celery seeds, salt, and pepper on their meat, along with a special barbecue sauce. Their meat was also charcoal-grilled instead of wood-smoked. With no Las Vegas barbecue scratching his itch quite like these, Presley would sometimes have Rendezvous Ribs flown to him while performing there. Clearly, Presley hasn't been the only one craving these ribs from afar since the restaurant offers to overnight a two- to eight-slab box of ribs directly to anyone willing to pay the $119–359 price tag.
Another Memphis restaurant favorite for Elvis Presley was BBQ pizza. Specifically, Presley liked to visit Coletta's to get BBQ pizza. The Italian restaurant originally didn't have pizza on its menu. However, after military personnel who had tasted it overseas kept asking for it, the restaurant owner sent his son to Chicago to learn how to make it. When the restaurant added pizza in the early 1950s, it decided to do it with a Southern twist by adding Memphis-style barbecue. As far as the restaurant knows, nobody else was selling BBQ pizza at the time, so it seems that Coletta's invented this classic pizza.
Despite Coletta's having several types of pizza on the menu, the BBQ pizza that Presley loved so much remains one of the best sellers on the menu. Diners can still sit at Elvis' favorite table to eat it. It's topped with a hefty layer of pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
Elvis Presley could eat three BLTs and eight deluxe cheeseburgers as his main course and then follow them with three whole milkshakes for dessert. This was back in his 20s during his early days of stardom before he gained tons of weight from eating this way. Even when he was in the hospital and on a special diet, he'd expect his friends to sneak in a bag of hamburgers for him to eat.
When Presley lived in Tupelo, Mississippi, as a child, he would get cheeseburgers from Johnnie's Bar-B-Q Drive-In. His drink of choice there was RC Cola. The restaurant has a photo of Presley coming back to his hometown to eat there, and you can sit at the same booth and gaze up at the photo on the wall above it. However, you can't get an RC anymore since they only serve Pepsi products.
Presley liked to get cheeseburgers in Memphis at The Arcade or the Gridiron restaurants. At the Gridiron he'd order them with mustard, pickles, and onions. He'd get a side of fries and a milkshake. However, he also loved the tiny hamburgers at Krystal. He'd order so many Krystal hamburgers that everyone at Graceland would have to work to manage to eat them all. The Memphis area still has one of the highest concentrations of Krystal restaurants of anywhere in the U.S. Fittingly, one is even on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Elvis Presley's grandma, Minnie Mae Hood Presley, moved from Graceland to Germany while he was stationed there for military service. Supposedly, she lived in Germany to be with him so that she could cook for him. There, she was known for making for him her buttermilk biscuits. The family's biscuits were not your ordinary biscuits. While they contained buttermilk, self-rising flour, Crisco shortening, and baking soda like ordinary biscuits, they also relied on yeast and lots of sugar to give them their amazing flavor.
Biscuits aren't just for breakfast in the South. They can show up as the carb for any meal of the day. The Presley family recipe makes 24 biscuits and the dough stays good in the fridge for two weeks, so whoever was cooking for him could make a lot of dough up at once and use it until they ran out of it. Presley insisted on having his biscuits hot and completely dripping with butter. His cook tended to fry them in butter to get them to his specifications.
Even though Elvis Presley had enough money to eat anything he wanted, his taste buds were set on the types of food he grew up eating. Growing up in an area of Mississippi where soul food is a typical cuisine, Presley was fond of some items that may not sound familiar to those who didn't grow up with it. One soul food item that his cooks made for him was pig feet. Even pig ears and fatback meat made their way into his diet. Pig feet have a rich, ham-like flavor with lots of fat and cartilage.
As you can imagine, it's important to wash pig feet extremely well to ensure they're clean before beginning the cooking process. The way Presley's chef prepared them was to boil them for three hours over low heat. Boiling helps to loosen the meat from the bone. Common accompaniments to pig feet were greens and cornbread. The feet were part of a simple meal that you're unlikely to find at a restaurant, but Presley liked the familiar foods of his childhood even as he grew up.
After seeing all the fat-laden meats and fast food items Elvis Presley loved, you may have been wondering if he ever ate any vegetables. It wasn't uncommon in the area where he grew up to eat only vegetables from the garden when money was short and cupboards were low on ingredients. One such meal was simply a plate of greens and cornbread. Turnip greens and collard greens were part of his childhood diet and stayed on the menu when he moved to Graceland. Collard greens were another dish like meatloaf that he often requested daily from his cooks at Graceland.
Presley's cook would wash the greens to remove any debris and then put them in a pot to cook for at least an hour. It was common to add smoked hog jowl to the greens along with salt and pepper. Sugar helped cut the bitterness. If you're not familiar with hog jowl, it's a highly-marbled piece of meat that comes from a pig's cheek and is used like bacon. It helps add a smokey, meaty flavor to the greens while cooking.
Cornbread is just as important in the South as biscuits, and Elvis Presley loved it. It shows up at various meals but is an especially popular accompaniment to greens. Not every Southerner eats sweet cornbread, but Presley's favorite cornbread recipe is a sweet one. His cook, Mary Jenkins Langston, made one for him that she cooked on top of the stove in a hot skillet until it turned golden brown and perfect. It contained not just cornmeal but also flour, baking powder, oil, eggs, buttermilk, and sugar.
Presley didn't just use cornbread to sop the liquidy potlikker from his greens. He had a habit of filling a bowl with cold buttermilk and breaking up pieces of warm cornbread into it, creating a sort of tangy cereal. Then, he'd fish out the pieces of buttermilk-soaked cornbread with a spoon. Presley didn't come up with this buttermilk and cornbread flavor combination on his own, though, as it's popular as a snacky treat or even a meal in some areas of the South.
Sauerkraut was among the foods that Elvis Presley enjoyed and it was on the shelves at all times at Graceland. The combination of sauerkraut and hotdogs (with mustard) was one of his staple lunchtime meals.
While Presley was in the military in Germany, he never ate outside his house or the military mess hall. Sauerkraut and weiners were in the rotation of lunch meals he asked his grandma to cook for him while he lived there. As a creature of habit, he even asked for it when he was in the hospital toward the end of his life. Despite orders from the doctor to eat a special diet, his cook snuck some hotdogs and sauerkraut up to his room disguised as a bag of clothes to satisfy his craving. Sauerkraut also shows up alongside pork chops in "The Elvis Presley Cookbook," which the authors filled with recipes he ate and ones he served to his Graceland guests.
While sauerkraut is not a standard component of Southern cuisine, it was available in Mississippi where he grew up. His father descended from a line of Germans who migrated to the U.S. in the early 1700s. So, sauerkraut is possibly a German food item that had stayed in the family over time.
Beyond eating bananas in outrageous sandwiches, Elvis Presley enjoyed bananas in banana pudding. But, he wasn't necessarily sharing the banana puddings he ate, instead tending to sit down and eat a whole bowl big enough to feed a crowd. He also passed his love of banana puddings down to his daughter Lisa Presley.
The family's recipe for banana pudding starts with vanilla pudding made from egg yolks, sugar, milk, cornstarch, salt, vanilla, and cream of tartar. It requires layers of vanilla wafers and sliced bananas topped with the pudding and a layer of meringue that gets browned in the oven.
Another banana pudding Presley enjoyed was the banana pudding of personal nurse and friend Marian Cocke. He once asked her to make her meringue-topped banana pudding for him for breakfast. Once it had cooled and she delivered it to him, he ate the entire bowl by himself, true to form.
Read the original article on Mashed.