November 12, 2018

The Fool’s Gold Loaf: A true culinary curiosity

Elvis Presley, the king of rock 'n' roll, or more simply The King, really liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – but not just any PB&J. Legend purports that several of his favorite sandwiches used peanut butter as a main ingredient. One of these is known simply as The Elvis. It's a pan-fried sandwich with peanut butter, banana and bacon, according to Food & Wine.

But The Elvis pales in comparison to the other special sandwich in The King's life: the Fool's Gold Loaf. This more robust version of the standard PB&J may seem excessive, even for the most fanatical peanut butter lovers. And while online culinary students may or may not have a place for this culinary curiosity on their menu, this homage to excess is certain to pique your interest.  

Unpacking the Fool's Gold Loaf

The classic Fool's Gold Loaf was first served in the Colorado Mine Company restaurant in Denver. Elvis is believed to have tried the sandwich in 1976 after a guest at his Graceland home told him about it during a late-night gathering. Elvis was allegedly so intrigued that he departed for Denver that instant for a midnight snack. Apparently, the trip was worth it. Elvis liked the Fool's Gold Loaf so much that, on a separate occasion, he flew all the way to Denver to retrieve the sandwich in celebration of his daughter's birthday, according to the Denver Post.

So, what about this sandwich makes it appealing enough for the king of rock 'n' roll to fly a thousand miles for it on multiple occasions? If anything, it's the sheer quantity of rich, sweet and savory ingredients. The original Fool's Gold Loaf is made by slathering a pound of peanut butter, a pound of blueberry preserves and a pound of bacon on a one-pound sourdough loaf, according to an interview that Denver7 conducted with Nick Andurlakis, who was 16 when he first fixed the sandwich for Elvis. 

Considering the enormity and indisputable unhealthiness of this roughly four-pound sandwich, many restaurants today will serve a leaner variation of the Fool's Gold Loaf, according to Atlas Obscura. For the original, you'll have to make a pilgrimage to Denver, where Andurlakis continues to serve the sandwich at his Elvis-themed  eatery, Nick's Cafe.

Peanut butter can be substituted for Nutella and rich spreads.Peanut butter can be substituted for Nutella and rich spreads.

How to serve it to modern diners

There are several ways to adopt this classic for your own menu. One option is to serve the original, especially since it's generally difficult to find outside Denver. While using the original proportion of ingredients may seem excessive, most diners who indulge in the Fool's Gold Loaf share a single order around a table of family and friends rather than tackling a whole one alone. 

That said, a much more practical method is to downsize the original by hollowing out a smaller loaf. This will make it more manageable for one person to eat alone, and less of an undertaking for diners who want a taste but don't want to commit to four pounds of PB&J. Either way, the comfort-food factor of this sandwich combined with The King's unforgettable reverence for it will be sure to get patrons' attention.

Perhaps the best way to think of the Fool's Gold Loaf, though, is as a source of inspiration to create your own PB&J-inspired menu item. For instance, play with spicy and sweet flavor profiles in this bacon-jalapeno PB&J recipe from StyleBlueprint. Alternatively, ditch the sandwich scene altogether, and go with these PB&J muffins, courtesy of Erica's Sweet Tooth.

If you take only one thing away from the Fool's Gold Loaf, let it be this: PB&J has potential to be much more than a basic sandwich.