The King's Bakers

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Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm

The King's Bakers

For 10 years, the ladies of Cakes by Mom and Me have created birthday cakes for Elvis Presley.

These aren’t just any ordinary birthday cakes, either. Pam Reed and her daughter, Lori Laird, create elaborate, colorful, multi-tiered cakes that pay homage to some part of Elvis, his career or his style. These cakes are the centerpiece of the annual Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony, the major event at Graceland’s Elvis Birthday Celebration. These cakes are truly fit for a king.

“The design work is fun,” Pam said. “We get to be very creative, and we get to see the picture we’ve imagined come to life.”

In honor of Elvis’ 75th birthday in 2010, Graceland held a contest to find the best Elvis birthday cake. Cakes by Mom and Me won the contest, and their blue and white layered cake won. The cake featured Elvis silhouettes, the gates of Graceland and the eagle from Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii jumpsuit, and the cake was cut by Lisa Marie’s two oldest children, Riley and Ben.

Graceland has worked with Cakes by Mom and Me since then. Sometimes, Graceland gives them a theme for the cake, and the ladies design it. Sometimes, it’s all up to Pam and Lori.

The 2011 cake, which focused on Elvis’ TV appearances, was Graceland’s idea – and yes, his appearances did play on the screens, thanks to a DVD player in one layer of cake.

The 2012 cake featured colorful Elvis silhouettes and sparkly silver accents. The 40th anniversary of “Aloha from Hawaii” was the theme for the 2013 cake.

“It was really easy,” Pam said. “We built his jumpsuit. If you have something to work with, it’s easy.”

The 2014 cake paid tribute to the 60th  anniversary of Elvis’ first hit, “That’s All Right.” In addition to the Sun Records logo, the cake featured 45s, a radio tuned to Dewey Phillip’s “Red, Hot and Blue” show on WHBQ and Elvis’ guitar cover design.

“All of those letters, Lori had to hand-cut out of fondant,” Pam said.

Elvis’ 80th birthday called for a gold and white cake topped off with a crown.

Another easy cake, Lori said, was the movie-themed cake from 2016. Elvis’ movies, plus the Golden Globe-winning documentary “Elvis on Tour,” was celebrated with a vibrant red cake accented with film strips and a Golden Globe made of cake on top.

The ladies weren’t given a theme for the 2017 cake, so they honored the king’s music. The blue and white cake featured Elvis’ biggest hits.

“We never used piano keys” until that cake, Lori said. “The sheet music was printed on sugar, so it was all edible.”

That cake was the biggest Elvis-themed that they’d ever made – 24” x 36”– so big they had to build it in the lobby of their bakery.

Graceland provided the theme for the 2018 cake: the 50th anniversary of the ’68 Special.

For inspiration, Lori said, “we watched it too many times.” The pair also toured Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum to see artifacts from the ’68 Special up close and personal. Elvis’ leather cuff, his name in lights and the intricate designs on his guitar strap were all recreated on the cake in fondant.

What is the theme for the 2019 cake? Fans will find out in just a few days at the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony on January 8. Lori and Pam aren’t telling, but there is a clue: “It features an Elvis quote,” Pam said.

These impressive cakes take hours and hours of work, plus extra special time to assemble. Pam and Lori often use ladders or stepstools to assemble the cakes upon arrival at Graceland. Most cakes are anywhere from 500-600 servings, while the biggest cake – the 2017 blue music cake – was about 700 servings.

Both ladies agree on the favorite cake they’ve made: the 2016 movie cake, followed by the 2014 rock ‘n’ roll cake.

And is it daunting to create a cake for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll? Sure, Pam and Lori said, but they have made cakes for other “kings” and celebrities. They’ve made cakes for B.B. King, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Marlo Thomas, golfer John Daly and Branson-based theme park Silver Dollar City.

Pam and Lori are Elvis fans, so creating cakes for him is a treat.

“We try to keep the fans in mind,” Lori said, so they can enjoy all the Elvis references and details on each layer of cake.

If they need inspiration, they tour Graceland, listen to Elvis music and watch Elvis movies.

“We’ve been listening to the radio a lot,” Lori said. “We brainstorm a lot. While we were working, ‘Blue Christmas’ would come on and it was like he’s telling me, ‘That’s a good idea.’”

It helps that Pam had her own Elvis sightings growing up.

In 1969, the then-16-year-old was working at Lansky Bros., Elvis’ favorite store in Memphis.

“The phone rang and I answered it. The man asked to speak to Mr. Guy (Lansky), and we were required to ask who was calling. He said, ‘Elvis Presley,’” Pam recalled, smiling. A few years later, she said, a small plane had crashed in Memphis, and she and her family were driving near the crash site. “A Cadillac pulled up beside us with the window down. There was Elvis, wearing a captain’s hat, and he looked at me and grinned.” 

The ladies behind Cakes by Mom and Me can’t wait for fans to see the cake they’ve created for Elvis’ 84th birthday. In the meantime, though, Pam and Lori have plenty of weddings, birthdays and other events to keep them busy baking and designing. But Elvis is never far from their minds.

“We’re already thinking about 2020,” Pam said.

The Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony is 9:30 a.m. CT January 8 on Graceland’s north lawn. After the ceremony, the cake will be moved to Vernon’s Smokehouse, where fans are invited to enjoy free cake and coffee. Can’t be in Memphis for the festivities? Watch the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony – and see the 2019 birthday cake created by Cakes by Mom and Me - live on Graceland’s Livestream page!

Posted by Sheena Barnett at 1:40 PM
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