Darius Slay is rarely extra widespread within the Philadelphia Eagles’ locker room than he’s on Fridays. That’s when Slay walks round together with his arms stretched by a field crammed with particular person cups of banana pudding, handing them to teammates who spend the week hankering for his or her repair.

The pudding is a specialty of Jenn Slay, Slay’s spouse. She began making small batches every so often for Slay’s teammates, they usually’ve grown in recognition ever since. The dessert is now a weekly ritual — as Slay is usually reminded.

“I literally talk to him every day about bringing that banana pudding,” mentioned defensive sort out Javon Hargrave.

When a staff makes the Super Bowl, there’s typically a seek for the key sauce. With the Eagles, that is perhaps the pudding.

“This s— is good!” Slay mentioned.

“Best I ever had in my life,” security K’Von Wallace mentioned.

“Any time she makes the banana pudding for the group,” mentioned security Marcus Epps, “it makes my day.”

The story behind the pudding originates in Detroit, the place Slay spent the primary seven years of his profession. Jenn discovered the recipe from Elise Tate, the spouse of former NFL broad receiver Golden Tate. Jenn made a batch for Slay’s teammates, and he got here residence and instructed her they needed extra.

“So it kind of turned into a thing there,” Jenn mentioned. “And then when we got here with the Eagles, I’m like, ‘You know what, why not keep the tradition going?’ Because it was something I enjoy and also something Slay enjoyed because he could brag about it: ‘My wife’s banana pudding is so good!’”

The pudding was an instantaneous hit in Philadelphia. In truth, the primary public acknowledgment got here throughout Slay’s first coaching camp with the staff in 2020. Former Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman completed a query about being teammates with Slay by stating that one of many memorable elements is the pudding.

“It was delicious,” he mentioned then. “I want some more right now.”

When Slay was requested that 12 months concerning the recipe, it was as if somebody sought the Eagles’ technique in defending Patrick Mahomes on Sunday. He would possibly as properly have cited aggressive benefit.

“Can’t give it to you,” Slay mentioned, “but it’s amazing.”

The recipe has advanced over time, with Jenn tinkering and refining it to the present iteration. And when she was requested to explain it, she provided a startling revelation for somebody who excels at making banana pudding: She doesn’t actually like bananas!

“I will say, it’s not like your typical banana pudding because … honestly, I’m not even a fan of bananas and I don’t do a lot of banana flavor in mine,” Jenn mentioned. “It’s weird. It’s like a mixture of vanilla but with a little bit of banana and then you get the taste of the cookie. It’s different. You really have to try to understand.”

Venture over to Hargrave’s locker and “banana pudding” would possibly as properly be a password. It’s like saying “Mount Union” to Nick Sirianni — a smile fills Hargrave’s face, and he’s able to evaluation.

“I’m a big banana person, banana pudding,” Hargrave mentioned. “I like the little cookie in it. It’s just some good banana pudding. I eat a lot of banana pudding, and that’s a good batch.”

“Them Chessman cookies she puts on the bottom, ground up … it’s fire!” cornerback Zech McPhearson mentioned.

Jenn Slay’s banana pudding has develop into a weekly custom within the Eagles’ locker room. (Courtesy: Jenn Slay)

Jenn acknowledges that Chessman cookies are a key ingredient. She crumbles the cookies on the high of the pudding, however they’re additionally ready on the backside — ”shock cookies,” as she referred to as them.

“I don’t know the secret,” Quez Watkins mentioned. “She don’t ever miss.”

The banana pudding didn’t develop into a team-wide phenomenon till current months. It’s now like a particular at a restaurant that turns into a staple on the menu. It’s unsurprising when Slay brings across the banana pudding after the final observe of the week.

“He was like, ‘Oh, the guys want the banana pudding here and there,’” Jenn mentioned of the unique plan. “And the one time he told me, ‘Man, the guys keep complaining that they didn’t get it this week.’ I’m like, ‘Slay, you’re the point of contact! … I don’t know when they want it! So just let me know.’ And then that’s when I was like, ‘You know what? Instead of him asking me all the time, I’m just going to automatically make it every week. … I’m gonna make it every Friday. So right out of practice, they can get it and go home.’ So that’s why that became a tradition.”

That means Thursday nights are busy. She doesn’t have the tools to make banana pudding in quantity — solely a “small mixer” that she’d in any other case use to bake a cake. She mixes 4 batches and combines them into an enormous bowl.

“It definitely takes a lot,” she mentioned.

Jenn beforehand used smaller cups. Then she noticed a photograph of left sort out Jordan Mailata holding the pudding and figured she wanted to increase the portion. (In equity, Mailata would make any cup seem small.) She now fills eight-ounce cups. The aim is to make 50 cups, however it often finally ends up being round 45 to 47.

If the demand from Slay didn’t persuade her of the recognition, the testimonials served as proof. The Eagles host a vacation occasion for the complete group. Jenn bumped into A.J. Brown, who introduced up the banana pudding. “I don’t care if I have to pay you,” Brown instructed her. “I need it!” She provided to make the pudding for Brown every time he needed a batch.

“It kind of reminds me of home,” mentioned Brown, a local of Starkville, Miss. “She does a great job with it.”

This is a praise Slay can recognize as a result of he mentioned his spouse makes the pudding “in a Southern way — and I’m from the South.” (Slay is from Brunswick, Ga.) He was impressed by this as a result of Jenn was born in Iowa and raised in Oklahoma.

The pudding is private to among the gamers. Hargrave mentioned his grandfather makes one of the best banana pudding. Watkins charges his auntie’s pudding as his favourite. Mailata, who’s Australian, was turned on to the delicacy by his fiance at Magnolia Bakery in New York. He considers Jenn’s the second-best he’s ever tasted — and he’s developed a discerning tongue for banana pudding.

“I always try to ask (Slay), ‘Hey, do you have any more?’” Mailata mentioned.

Jenn will get a superb snort concerning the fuss for her banana pudding as a result of she’s “never been really the baking type.” She cooks greater than bakes, however when she met Slay, she wanted to regulate as a result of he has a candy tooth. She now is aware of her desserts.

There’s another person who’s in on the recipe: Slay himself. He helped her make the pudding in the course of the week main as much as the NFC Championship Game. That lower the preparation time by two hours, with Slay carrying gloves to crumble cookies and fill cups.

Slay stood by his locker two days earlier than the Eagles clinched a spot within the Super Bowl indulging within the dessert that was partly his creation.

“Credit to her — she’s been going crazy in it,” Slay mentioned. “She told me not to tell her secret. I’m going to keep it to myself. … She wants to make it for the team. All them be calling me like, ‘I need the pudding!’ I’m like, ‘Damn, I wish I could call and ask for stuff like that!’ But it’s all good. S—’s good.”

The rising buzz concerning the banana pudding on social media led to Jenn delivering cups to tailgates earlier than video games. Now she hears from followers each day who need her to package deal and promote the pudding. She had not thought-about it earlier than, however the wheels are in movement for distribution.

First comes one other giant portion this week. The sample of pudding on Friday and a win on Sunday isn’t misplaced in some corners of the locker room.

“We’ve got spoiled to it. I remind him, call him and tell him,” Hargrave mentioned. “I told him he’s gotta keep the banana pudding coming (because the Eagles are winning).”

“Keep it going,” Watkins mentioned. “I don’t know what she’s going to do for the Super Bowl, but we’ll make something happen.”

Here’s what she’ll do for the Super Bowl: Jenn is staying in an Airbnb so she has entry to a kitchen. At the top of the week, she plans on delivering a batch to the Eagles’ resort.

Why mess with what’s working? The proof is within the pudding.

(Photo: Jenn and Darius Slay / @jennwilliams23 through Twitter)

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