Elvis Presley's Favorite Fast Food Burger Is A Slept-On Classic

Elvis Presley was an icon known not only for his music catalog and bedazzled jumpsuits but also for his eclectic tastes — particularly when it came to food. His fondness for fast food, despite his celebrity status, made the larger-than-life star seem down-to-earth and relatable. Almost fifty years after his death, a renewed interest in Elvis' favorite sandwichhis love of Gatorade, and late-night cravings has left fans eager to learn more, including his favorite fast food burger, which is still served today.

Elvis' cousin, Danny Smith, who grew up at Graceland, said The King loved burgers and favored the style prepared at a local Memphis, Tennessee chain named Krystal (via The Daily Express). Smith, known on YouTube as The Memphis Mafia Kid, said, "He had ordered, oh, gobs and gobs of them. And everybody up in Graceland would eat on them." 

Although restaurants trying to capitalize on his celebrity have conflated Elvis' love of burgers with his equal appreciation of Fool's Gold sandwiches, Krystal's OG burger does not contain peanut butter, banana, or bacon. The original slider is a grilled two-biter topped with diced onions, mustard, and a dill pickle, all served on a steamed bun. Luckily, with nearly 300 locations, primarily in the South, you can still order one of Elvis' favorite comfort foods while traveling throughout the U.S.

The history of Elvis' favorite fast food burger

The first 25-foot by 10-foot Krystal restaurant opened in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in October 1932. The chain was founded by Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill but named by Davenport's wife, Mary, who was inspired by a sparkling 'crystal clean' lawn ornament. Back then, customers could order six sliders and a coffee for only $0.35.

Despite a conflicting report naming Burger King as Elvis' favorite fast food chain (no offense to the Whooper) and accounts of The King liking McDonald's, according to Krystal's website, on February 12, 1954, Elvis and former Disk Jockey "Daddy-O" Dewey Phillips "ordered 100 sliders from the downtown Krystal restaurant for pickup, and an hour later, a crowd arrived to see Elvis, and they handed out all 100 sliders to his new fans." Although it wasn't specified, since Phillips deejayed at WHBQ-AMnear Graceland, it's assumed the order was taken at a 'downtown' Memphis location, perhaps the one on Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Elvis reportedly wasn't the only celebrity who liked Krystal burgers and ordered by the dozens. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan's staff arranged for 120 cheese Krystals, fries, and milkshakes to be prepared on location to satisfy the president's cravings. While Reagan delivered a commencement speech at a high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the restaurant cooked the sliders beside Air Force One on two portable grills. However, Elvis could never be outshined, and his love of burgers extended to Lisa Marie sleeping in a hamburger-shaped bed. 

Where to find steamed burgers

While Southerners still enjoy the taste of Krystal's, steamed sliders were invented by another chain. More than ten years earlier, White Castle opened in Wichita, Kansas, selling five-cent sliders by the sackful. Its original slider is grilled on a bed of onions, which steams the patented five-hole square patties. Between the two chains, steamed burgers are found throughout the U.S., including upscale burger joints like Joe Isidori's Black Tap restaurants

However, you don't need to dine out to enjoy this burger style since it's easily prepared and customized at home. Your homemade version can be square like the OG or round, small enough to fit in a slider bun or fill a large Kaiser roll. The only requirement is that the burger is cooked on a skillet or plancha to trap the steam. When making a Krystal-style burger, cook the patties on top of diced onions, enabling steam from the onion's water content to cook the meat. 

Although the OG method is delicious, it produces grey, soft meat that hasn't reached its full potential. Another method, preferred by Bobby Flay when preparing cheeseburgers, is to cook the patty over high heat to develop a crust, then use steam to melt the cheese evenly. Just shy of your preferred doneness, top the patty with cheese and add an ice cube or a splash of water before immediately covering the pan with a lid. For softer buns, assemble the burgers before steaming.