How Did Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding Get So Famous?

Magnolia Bakery may have earned its reputation through its delicious cupcakes, but the bakery's banana pudding has also claimed a rightful place in the hearts of dessert lovers. Though classic banana pudding was a long-standing menu item, the sweet slowly climbed the ranks in the early aughts to become one of the bakery's best-selling orders. "It was this sleeper dessert that was an employee favorite by far, and maybe the favorite of a few customers," Magnolia CEO Bobbie Lloyd explained to Delish in 2021. The bakery would make a few pans of the stuff, and when it was out, they weren't too fussed about replacing it until the next business day. That soon changed.

As mixers were replaced with larger units and output increased, banana pudding became responsible for at least a quarter of in-store sales. Wafers, sweetened condensed milk, and pudding kept dedicated palates intrigued with monthly flavor variations and seasonal ingredients like roasted strawberries. "Over the years, we've expanded our flavor options to include more than 25, including chocolate hazelnut, red velvet, and even some non-banana varieties like apple crisp," Lloyd told Tasting Table.

A sweet treat that is comforting and familiar

Banana pudding makes up a significant portion of online sales, and the dessert's success even led to the creation of Banana Pudding Cookies. "We would hear really interesting anecdotal stories from people, mostly women, who would be like, 'I love the cupcake, but my husband loves the banana pudding.' It was almost like guys didn't feel they could say they loved pastel-colored cupcakes, but they sure could talk about pudding," CEO Bobbie Lloyd reflected to Delish. "The more we sold, the more we made; the more we sold, the more people talked."

The bakery hasn't kept the recipe close; the process to make Magnolia's banana pudding has been shared, with layers of whipped cream, vanilla wafers, and banana slices left for hours in the fridge. For those who want to enjoy classic banana pudding with little culinary effort, the bakery sells a DIY kit with most of the ingredients needed to piece the dessert together — and a sampler pack featuring banana pudding cups and cookies for those who can't seem to get enough. 

In addition to shipping the dessert nationwide, the bakery has also "partnered with brands to create banana pudding-inspired merchandise, such as a Boy Smells candles, a Monos luggage line, a Tula body scrub, and even a THC edible with incredibles," as Lloyd detailed to Tasting Table. It's safe to say that what was once a supporting actor menu item is now an established main character.