By Thomas Sellers Jr.
For lifelong Memphian Tiffany Lewis her craving for banana pudding transformed into motivation.
Then that motivation to taste her mother Murlean Figg’s interpretation of the Southern treat grew into inspiration.
Lewis was inspired to share her love and style of banana pudding with the public creating Nana’s Pudding in January 2014.
“(Mom) always made banana pudding for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Lewis recalled. “So, that was the only time that I got it. It was my favorite dessert growing up. When we would go out and eat, I’d order banana pudding. And it was never like Mom’s. I was always say, ‘It’s fake banana pudding. It’s not as good.’
“I began to start making banana pudding and I was always working to get that flavor my Mom had,” she continued. “I would just do it for work and family functions. Everyone would tell me Tif I really like it. But it wasn’t still there. So I just kept practicing until I actually got it. I just kept working at it and made a tweak. And one day I got it. It was like the flavor I was going for, it was just like her’s.”
Once Lewis nailed her mother’s pudding, she wanted to branch out. The first thing she did was look for her spiritual foundation using 1 Chronicles 4:10 as her spiritual motto.
Then The University of Memphis and Strayer graduate formulated her plan.
“When I decided to branch out and do banana pudding, I just didn’t want to do banana pudding,” Lewis said. “If you think about it, that’s actually kind of boring. So I needed something with a twist.”
Her twist was adding different flavors to the dessert. Lewis had a ‘Flavor Five’ starting with Nana’s Pudding. Then the next four interpretations are Strawberry Delight, Tropical Island, Honky Tonk and Toast Coconut.
Just like it’s name implies, Toast Coconut featured baked coconut infused into the banana pudding. Honky Tonk is a tribute to Memphis and the late Elvis Presley. The banana pudding is accompanied by peanut butter giving a similar taste to the trademark sandwich made famous by The King.
Tropical Island ‘give you the feeling you’re on beach relaxing.’ Lewis description is based on the combination of coconut, mango and pineapple inside the pudding.
And Lewis continues to display her love of fresh fruits with Strawberry Delight. Her menu features almost 10 flavors of banana pudding with Lewis even making holiday versions.
“Since Valentine’s was coming up, I was trying to figure out, ‘What could I incorporate with banana pudding for Valentine’s Day?’” she recalled. “I thought about it and said, ‘red velvet.’ So I did a red velvet cake. I incorporated the cake with my banana pudding and put it inside Mason jars. It was phenomenal. I had friends come out and try it. They loved it and it sold really well.”
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, Lewis offers a Pumpkin Spice Banana Pudding with pumpkin spice cookies and toasted pecans with ginger. She is currently working on a dark chocolate/hazel nut combination.
With a solid customer base in Memphis, Lewis is branching out to the rest of Shelby County and West Tennessee. She hopes this is the next step to her major goal.
“I would love to go nationwide with Nana’s Pudding. I actually love to be on QVC one day so I could distribute Nana’s Pudding everywhere. Something that’s different. Since it is such a Southern dessert, to get it exposed outside the South would be phenomenal. The fresh fruits and different flavors I incorporate into the puddings makes it so different. It’s just not banana pudding.”
The treat of banana pudding meant a lot to Lewis as a little girl. And the dessert her mother made has given her a platform to reach others. Lewis has been featured on Neighborhood Christian Center with Ephie Ballard-Johnson getting her pudding recognition and her message out.
Part of multiple non-profit organizations, Lewis hopes Nana’s Pudding will be another avenune for her to give back.
“ I do a lot of work with the community especially with the youth,” she said. “I saw so many youth, not just youth, but people who couldn’t get jobs because the lack of their GED. I wanted to take some of the proceeds to help those who need to pursue their GED.
“If what I do can inspire you to go back and get your GED, you have this little one watching you,” Lewis continued. “They’re saying, ‘If mom can go do this? If dad can go do this?’ Just that little bit is something that can help.”
For more information on Nana’s Pudding, visit www.nanaspudding.com or Facebook (Nana’s Pudding) or call 921-5536.