Elvis Presley’s Weekly Food Bill in the 1970s Was More Than Double The Amount Most Americans Paid For Their Monthly Mortgages
Elvis Presley was one of the biggest stars of his generation. He enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle and had access to the finest things money could buy. However, Elvis most enjoyed being at his Tennessee home, where his favorite creature comforts were always available. These comforts included his favorite foods, but that came at a cost. In the 1970s, Elvis’ weekly grocery bill was more than double that of most monthly mortgages.
The weekly food bill at Graceland was around $500 a week in the 1970s
Per a story published by the Los Angeles Times in 1993, Elvis Presley’s food bill at Graceland in the 1970s was around $500 a week. This was more than most monthly mortgages in the United States, estimated at around $126 in 1970, per The New York Times.
The newspaper reported on details made available in David Adler’s book, The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley. It stated, “Purchases often were made at the local Piggly Wiggly. The four major Elvis food groups were meat, vegetables, tobacco, and over-the-counter medication. The cost: about $500 a week.”
From 1970 through 1977, Graceland cooks Mary Langston Jenkins and Nancy Rooks prepared three meals daily for Elvis, his father Vernon, the Memphis Mafia, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Linda Thompson, and Ginger Alden. Therefore, there were many people to cook for, but at $500 a week, Elvis’ grocery bill was at the high end of normal, even for a large group.
Elvis Presley’s cooks knew his favorite way to eat food was to ‘make it burnt’
The King of Rock and Roll had one request of his cooks when preparing meat and his favorite bacon. It had to be well done. Per the Chicago Tribune, a form of high praise was “That’s burnt, man.” Whether he was talking about a steak or a song, something “burnt” was good.
His favorite seasoning was salt. A favorite pizza topping from Coletta’s Italian Restaurant in Memphis was untraditional—barbecued pork with barbecue sauce instead of tomato sauce.
Elvis enjoyed a Del Monte fruit cocktail with coconut flakes, raisins, and mini marshmallows, washed down with a bottle of Pepsi Cola. He favored Brownies, Girl Scout cookies, Eskimo Pies, and Nutty Buddies for dessert. He also loved Krispy Kreme jelly doughnuts by the box.
To clean up the meal, Elvis’s stepbrother, Billy Stanley, revealed the king didn’t use napkins. “He used towels,” Stanley said. “He’d say, ‘Bring me a beach towel.’ Cause he’d make such a mess.”
These specific foods had to be in Graceland’s refrigerator at all times
According to The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley, certain food items had to be stocked in Graceland’s refrigerator. Many had to be made fresh daily in case Elvis wanted them at a moment’s notice.
These included fresh, lean, unfrozen ground meat, a case of Pepsi Cola, and brown-and-serve rolls. Cans of biscuits, hamburger buns, pickles, potatoes, and onions also made the list.
Fresh fruit, yogurt, sauerkraut, frankfurters, milk, cream, and bacon also had to be on hand. Mustard, peanut butter, hand-squeezed orange juice, ingredients for meatloaf, and ice cream rounded out the food requests.
One item had to be on hand for Elvis when he wanted a sweet treat. Banana pudding was the king’s favorite, and it had to be made every day whether or not he wanted it.
Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, at his Memphis, Tennessee home. He was 42.