These Were Martin Luther King Jr.'s Favorite Desserts

Over 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s tragic assassination, and more than 20 years after the U.S. finally adopted his birthday as a national holiday, the civil rights leader has achieved legend status. While the Reverend Dr. King may almost seem like a hero straight from a storybook, he was a man, not a myth, and had many of the same pleasures in life as anyone else. He was a fan of both gospel and jazz music (via International Musician), he enjoyed a backyard game of baseball (via Twitter), and he loved a well-cooked meal.

King's favorite foods were Southern classics. The Chicago Tribune related how he and his trusted lieutenants used to dine at Atlanta's Paschal Brother's Restaurant on something they called "the sacramental meal," which consisted of fried chicken, corn bread, collard greens, and (of course!) sweet tea. As for King's favorite home-cooked meal, author and history professor Fred Opie revealed that this was one of ribs, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. No meal, however, was complete without dessert and King had three favorites.

One of MLK's favorite desserts was a King family original

As per the The Chicago Tribune, Dr. Martin Luther King always ended his meal at Paschal Brother's with that restaurant's famous peach cobbler. Chef Alexander Smalls shared with Spruce Eats that King was also known to be very fond of pecan pie. (Aren't we all?) While both of these dishes rank high in the Southern culinary pantheon, one of King's best-loved desserts was his mother's own recipe, a childhood favorite that he and his siblings dubbed "Quilly" (via Fred Opie).

As King's mom once described, Quilly is a cool gentle dessert and one that pairs perfectly with the ribs and greens that King requested upon returning from Stockholm with his Nobel Prize. It is made from sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and flavored with vanilla or rum extract, somewhat in the style of a panna cotta, but it also contains fruit cocktail, almonds, marshmallows, and macaroons. This last-named ingredient may have been what led a Chicago Daily Defender's food writer to call quilly "a special version of a southern Charlotte Recipe" when it was first published in 1967 (via Fred Opie). As to how the King kids came up with the name, MLK's mom speculated that "maybe because it was garnished with spikes of thin sugar wafers" that a child could have imagined as the quills of a porcupine.