Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly & Bacon, Uh huh!
I just watched the finale of Apple TV series Shining Girls, a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk. Just kidding, that’s a Seinfeld reference. But seriously I did watch the Shining Girls and it was enjoyable AF. It’s a dark thriller with all my favorite elements; time travel, shifting realities, a serial killer and a sandwich that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I first saw it on episode 5- a fried peanut butter & jelly with bacon.
The scene is a total mind fuck. Halfway through the episode, Kirby, the female protagonist, starts to question her grasp of reality. She returns home and is greeted by her husband, only she doesn’t have a husband. She never did! Sensing her stress, the unfamiliar spouse hands her a plate which he proclaims to be her “favorite food”. But she has no idea what it is!! As millions of viewers watch Kirby come to grips with reality as she knows it changing around her in real time, all I can do is think of that sandwich, the combo of salty and sweet, the paradox of gooey peanut butter and crispy bacon. I found myself void of any empathy for this character I’ve grown to care for over the past few weeks. I fantasized about taking that first bite, an explosion of grape glacé, the crunch of well-done pork and a river of warmed peanuts dripping down my forearms. I had to have this.
Is this that Elvis sandwich?
I knew about The King's obsession with fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, for whatever reason that really doesn’t do it for me. But it wasn’t until I started doing more research that I discovered that the PBJ & Bacon is also an Elvis sandwich. The guy just liked fried things. And peanut butter. And fried pickles. And red meat…. According to the book, “The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley” by David Adler, 18 months before he died, Elvis flew from Graceland to a restaurant named the Colorado Mine Company in Glendale, Colorado for a monstrous sandwich known as A Fool’s Gold Loaf, a hollowed-out loaf of buttered bread cut lengthwise, baked in the oven until crispy then smeared with an entire jar of grape jelly and another full jar of creamy peanut butter and finished with a pound of bacon. Crammed together this beast feeds up to 6 to 8 people OR Elvis.
The Colorado Mine Company closed many years ago, but the Frankensandwich lives on. Nick Andurlakis, the 16-year-old chef during that legendary night, opened Nick’s Cafe and continued the tradition of serving the Fool’s Gold Loaf, but sadly according to their Facebook page, after 36 years, Nick has decided it was time to close shop this March.
I still had to try this sandwich!
Despite Nick’s retirement, I’m pretty confident that this sandwich will continue to live on in parts of Colorado and Tennessee for nostalgic reasons. In the meantime, I had to make this for myself. I decided to go the more conservative Shining Girls route, I’m already starting to look too much like 1970’s Elvis, so I made the smaller white bread version. I used Welch’s Grape, Reduced Fat Skippy Chunky Peanut Butter and a few slices of thick cut bacon and fried everything like a grilled cheese. The first bite was everything I thought it would be, my tastebuds shook like Elvis's hips on the Ed Sullivan Show. The second bite caused me to take notice of the stark textural differences, the crunch of the bread, the chew of the bacon and sticky syrup. By the third bite I had enough, I had to tap out.
I've watched a lot of tv and movies over the years and with the exception of the Frog Dog, Michael J Fox and James Woods' unhealthy lunch in the Hardway I've never really been interested enough to want to try. This was different. I needed this. I encourage everyone to take at least one bite of a PBJ&B in your lifetime, but maybe just one bite.