Now I know some people use that term loosely these days, but I don’t. “Heresy” is not a word I throw around lightly.

But, brethren and sistren, what I’m going to tell you about to day is nothin’ but HERESY! Pure-D-ol’-HERESY. A lie straight from the pit of H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

Yeah, heresy. The real thing. And right in our own home.

On a box of Nabisco Nilla Wafers, of all places.

This particular heresy calls itself “Easy Southern Banana Pudding.” The title alone should tell you something. I don’t know of any Southern dishes that are exactly easy. Simple, yes (as in few ingredients and/or easy to find ingredients), but not easy. I decided to look at the recipe to see what they consider “easy Southern banana pudding.” That’s when I saw the potty-mouth words. Yes! I kid you not: potty-mouth words were printed right there on the Nilla Wafers box that any Christian man, woman, or child could see if they walked by it at the Piggly Wiggly!

(Our more sensitive readers may want to shield their eyes from reading the obscenities which follow. But I publish them out of a desire for accuracy in reporting. My apologies in advance.)

1. Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding
2. Cool Whip whipped topping

As soon as you’ve recovered from the vapours, I’ll continue. (Everybody had a whiff of their smellin’ salts now?)

Now, I realize that “Cool Whip” is not necessarily a naughty word, and perhaps “instant pudding” isn’t either, but in the context of a banana pudding, they most certainly are.

When I told Mark I was going to be blogging about Banana Pudding tonight (actually I called it by its technical name: Nanner Puddin’), his thoughts were: “I can eat me some Banana Pudding. But it better be custard and not that Jello crap (emphasis added).”

Indeed, Mark, indeed.

You see, Mark knows that Jello instant pudding doesn’t go in a banana pudding. He knows that Jello pudding that you have to cook doesn’t go in a banana pudding. And certainly ready made vanilla pudding that comes out of the giant industrial-sized can (like they have at the “China-ese buffet”) doesn’t go in a banana pudding! And don’t get me started about imitation-banana-flavored pudding: that stuff tastes like nail polish remover–well, it tastes like nail polish remover smells, anyway.

And Cool Whip does not go on top of a banana pudding. Not even real whipped cream goes on a banana pudding. Meringue goes on top of a banana pudding. You wanna make a banana pudding, you gotta break (and separate) some eggs. Period.

I think too many of us Southerners have become banana pudding gourmands. I’ve actually seen and heard people raving about a “banana pudding” at an all-you-can-eat buffet, where the pudding in question consisted of one of those giant steam-table pans full of the aforementioned nail-polish-remover-flavored can-o-pudding, with some banana slices thrown in, some cheap vanilla wafers scattered about, and non-dairy whipped topping (probably from a big plastic bag, like the stuff they put on the chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP–again, don’t get me started) covering the whole mess.

People, we cannot let this happen in America.

This is a banana pudding:

This is not:


So, here’s the real deal, with a few observations afterward.

Original NILLA® Banana Pudding

3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup flour
dash salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
45 NILLA Wafers, divided
5 medium ripe bananas, sliced (about 3-1/2 cups)

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
RESERVE 12 of the wafers for garnish. Spread small amount of custard onto bottom of 1-1/2-quart baking dish; cover with layers of 1/3 each of the remaining wafers and sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of the remaining custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make a total of 3 layers of each, ending with custard.
BEAT egg whites on high speed of electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Spoon over custard; spread evenly to cover entire surface of custard and sealing well to edge.
BAKE 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Top with reserved 12 wafers just before serving.

Now, some thoughts:

1) It sure would be nice if a vanilla wafer were readily available that actually contained vanilla! All the national brands are made with artificial vanilla (that’s probably why Nabisco only calls them “Nilla” wafers). A lot of people say Keebler vanilla wafers taste better than the Nabisco ones, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had those so I don’t know. I know that if you can find Bud’s Best, they are some good vanilla wafers (although they are bite-sized, which means you’ll need more than 45 of them), but if you use Bud’s Best, by all means do not use Bud’s Mom Adelaide’s “Famous”[sic] Vanilla Pudding Recipe, which is printed on the back of the package. It is far too sweet. I think Adelaide must have known my great aunt Hazel, whose desserts could give you cavities even if you only looked at pictures of them. I’ve seen some organic, no-trans-fat types of vanilla wafers that are do doubt made with 100% organic Madagascar vanilla and free-range flour, but I have no idea what they taste like. Nor have I ever tried Stauffer’s Vanilla Wafers (which were featured once on Unwrapped). Anyone out there with some vanilla wafer wisdom for us?

2) Be patient. Ever had a banana pudding where the bananas were all dark and mushy? That means someone was impatient in putting it together. Let the custard cool completely (to room temperature) before you start assembling the pudding: that way it won’t look like Rotten Banana Pudding. If you wait for the custard to cool, you’ll also be waiting for the egg whites to get to room temperature, which will make the meringue work better too.

Southerners, refuse to sell yourselves short! Don’t fall for the siren song of that Delilah, that Jezebel, known as “Easy Southern Banana Pudding”– they don’t call her that for nothing. You hold out for the pure, unadulterated, real Banana Pudding.

Or else I may have to make you eat some of my Great Aunt Hazel’s Fruit Cocktail Cake.


About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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11 Responses to Heresy!

  1. Mark says:

    Now John, I always double the amount of custard I put in mine. I like lots of custard and banana. Now, I am not a meringue fan, so I just make mine all pretty with a top layer of Nilla Wafers.

    You know, my grandmother substituted strawberries once for bananas, and it was really good. I bet blueberries or blackberries would be good too.

    I was watching one of those British cooking shows and they used ginger snaps instead of vanilla wafers. Hmm, no thank you.

  2. Vrouw_Jonker says:

    I don’t know… I think I would have to go for the real whipped cream instead of the meringue (although I guess I don’t have to admit to you that I’ve used non-dairy whipped topping on more than one occasion in the past; and I repent & renounce that heinous practice henceforth). But I definitely prefer to never partake of anything less than a custard puddin’. Our receipt (what’s the deal with that spelling, huh?):

    In a large saucepot or dutch oven, mix:
    2 cups sugar
    3 Tbs flour

    Mix in:
    ½ stick of butter or margarine, melted
    1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk + 1 can water
    4 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    1/2 tsp salt

    Heat until thick, stirring constantly. Allow to cool. Layer in serving bowl with bananas.
    Top with whipped cream and vanilla wafers.

    Look! Make your own Vanilla Wafers.
    The Fruit Cocktail Cake wouldn’t involve a yellow cake mix, a can of F.C. (eww again: check out the “grapes”!) and a stick of melted butter, would it?

  3. Mark says:

    Here is a question for you. DO you prefer it warm or cold? I love myself a warm banana pudding.

  4. RevJATB says:


    I don’t think the Fruit Cocktail Cake started with a mix, but I know it containted a whole can of fruit cocktail (with the grapes), INCLUDING the “heavy syrup”, PLUS about 2 cups o’sugar. It was baked in a bundt pan (what I have always affectionately called a “butt pan”). It would make your teeth HURT it was so sweet.

    Now, you know I’m no stranger to Cool Whip either: it is indispensible in my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie (come to think of it: so is Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding!) It’s just the very idea of Nabisco calling this a “Southern” Banana Pudding (albeit an “easy” one) and not putting a meringue on it. The nerve of some people.

    See, you’ve got an out too. I know Oklahoma’s cuisine is Southern (hey, they even have a “state meal” which includes fried okra, squash, and corn bread: doesn’t get much more Southern than that), but it’s also West enough that you could always say, “My banana pudding is an authentic Okie Banana Pudding.”

  5. RevJATB says:

    Mark, I would have to say I prefer it neither hot nor cold: just the temperature it is if you take it out of the oven before dinner starts and allow it to sit on the counter during dinner (so I guess that would be condsidered slightly warm). I will definitely not spew it forth from my mouth at any time, but refrigerator-cold is probably my least favorite way to eat it.

  6. Vrouw_Jonker says:

    Last summer our Abalama friend, pdrinkard, took us over to her Mama’s for some pah, upon which was a delicious meringue that the little old lady had whipped up using a dinner fork. And her hand/arm muscles. If I were a wagerer, I’d wager that old gal doesn’t have lunchroom arms (“trembling triceps”). I forgot to look.

  7. RevJATB says:

    Yes, my mom tells me her grandmother used to beat egg whites by hand too. Those were some strong women in those days. A friend of ours in H’burg (who actually grew up in B’ham) has an ENORMOUS cast iron skillet that belonged to his grandmother. He says that, on many occasions, he saw said grandmother pick up that skillet, full of fried chicken and hot grease, WITH ONE HAND, and move it to the other side of the kitchen.

    They didn’t need aerobics back then: they had meal prep.

  8. Mark says:

    Fruit Cocktail Cake? My mom makes a dump cake. It is actually really good, but the name needs some work.

  9. Oh, uh-UH!! I couldn’t finish past the “Jello” and “Cool Whip.” Maybe when I’ve cooled a bit….UH-UH!!!

  10. PaulB says:

    Preach it, brutha.

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