Real Food Recipes

“The Elvis” Oatmeal

Elvis. A guy they called “King.” A guy so essential to the story of America over the past 50 years, you need only to mention his first name or that title, and immediately people know who you’re talking about.

“Hound Dog.” “Jailhouse Rock.” “Heartbreak Hotel.” These were the world’s introductions to American culture—music that was a unique blend of country, gospel, and blues—the folk music of young adults.

He was a new kind of icon, who didn’t show off strength, power, or technical prowess. Instead, he commanded the adoration of the youth.

He was a new kind of icon, who didn’t show off strength, power, or technical prowess. Instead, he commanded the adoration of the youth.

It made sense; he voiced the soundtrack to their rebellion. Like jazz before it, rock n’ roll combined influences outside the mainstream. Its mere existence was rebellion. Elvis made the genre popular. Elvis made the genre approachable.

As the defining figure of this early rock n’ roll revolution, the public made him an icon. He was a figure who would go on to find a kind of ‘fountain of youth’ in cultivating his fame.

I remember working as a bank teller in Northern Illinois in the 00s. I used to have the occasion to go and pick up breakfast for coworkers in the next town over. Just off route 12, nestled between the highway and the shore of Fox Lake, sat a little diner with a wrap-around lunch counter. It could have been pulled straight from Elvis’ early years as a teen icon—laminate counters, wood paneling on the walls. As you entered the restaurant, just to your right, stood a full size statue of Elvis. As I remember it, he was styled as the Elvis from the famous postal stamp, his hips in mid-swing, looking like he might be halfway through one of his hits.

It was a jarring sight to see. It was in this kind of iconography that Elvis the icon could be appropriately remembered—youthful, energetic, idealized. An image more than a man, stuck forever in his youth.

There’s this diner dish that is regularly attributed to Elvis. It’s a peanut butter sandwich topped with bananas, honey and bacon. On paper, it seems like a monstrosity—the banana, honey, and peanut butter all providing sticky and mushy qualities, seeming like a combination that should never be realized.

But upon closer examination, there’s something special there. The Elvis sandwich seems like a riff on the quintessential sandwich of the American youth, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. By swapping the jelly for banana, Elvis found the perfect pairing. Mushed bananas have less density than peanut butter, providing a lightness that isn’t found in the conventional peanut butter and jelly. It provides volume to the sandwich, as well, further cultivating that very American sense of plenty to the dish.

Combined with bacon, the salty and sweet combination of peanut butter-banana-bacon provides for complexity. The combination of stickiness-volume-saltiness-smoke all play on the tongue like some symphony of southern ingredients. This isn’t a kids’ combination.

I have to confess that I don’t remember ever having an Elvis sandwich. But, in trying to think of recipes that would provide deep and lasting satisfaction at the breakfast hour, I was inspired by the idea. I take my own liberties here: I substitute bacon bits for the bacon in this recipe, because they provide bacon flavor without sugar (one of the main components of most American bacon is sugar). I add dry roasted peanuts for crunch, too, something that I think is becoming an important component in my oatmeal concoctions.



2/3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats

2 Tbsp. Fresh Ground Peanut Butter (Heaping)

2 Tbsp. Dry Roasted Peanuts

1 Banana, Mashed

1 Tbsp. Bacon Bits (substitute for reach bacon bits, if preferred)


1. Add Oats, Dry Roasted Peanuts and Peanut Butter to container. Keep Bacon Bits and Banana separate.

2. Before being ready to eat, add mashed banana to the container.

3. Add boiling water to the container to cover the Oat, Dry Roasted Peanut, Peanut Butter and Banana mixture. Mix completely and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

4. Just before eating, add bacon bits and stir.