The Surprising Connection Between Monkey Bread And Nancy Reagan

The year 1986 was one that saw the devastating aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the inaugural episode of "The Late Show," and the Hands Across America march to raise money to tackle poverty (via The Atlantic). Sitting in the Oval Office watching all of the wonders and historic events of the year take place was incumbent president Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy Reagan.

While the president was fussing over inconsequential things like the economy, it was First Lady Nancy Reagan who was generating the really significant changes in American society — including food.

Nancy's culinary knowledge has been considerably documented, with her recipes continuing to be popular to this day, appearing in Southern Living and Food. However, it was her affection for monkey bread that started a food frenzy in 1986, making the humble treat a firm favorite of Americans for decades (via Women's Health).

Nancy Reagan's influence made monkey bread's popularity soar in the '80s

Even though the name suggests an abundance of bananas, monkey bread is actually more tuned in to the flavors of coffee and cinnamon. The popular treat is thought to have originated in Hungary, where another "pull apart" dessert called Arany Galuska (translated in English as "golden dumpling") was tweaked to become monkey bread, says Delish.

Nancy Reagan served monkey bread during an important Christmas meal at The White House in 1985, leading to a seismic impact. The sticky cake dessert proved such a great success during the prestigious event that it surged in popularity during 1986 (via Oh, Ranger).

Nancy's monkey bread recipes continue to be popular, featured in the likes of Food Network and New York Times Cooking. As well as the traditional monkey bread, alternative versions feature lemon, blueberry, and pumpkin, ensuring that the recipe is continuously adapted to remain fresh for future generations.