Elvis Presley performed in a TV commercial in exchange for a box of hot glazed doughnuts

Goran Blazeski
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The “King of Rock and Roll” made only 17 major television appearances in his career and only one commercial endorsement.

While many people believe that it was Ed Sullivan who had the honor to introduce Elvis to the nation for the first time on his CBS-TV variety show in 1956, Elvis first appeared on national TV in January 1956, on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s “Stage Show.”

The Dorsey brothers were concerned about the low ratings of the show, especially in the south, so they had to do something if they wanted to change that. They needed something new and decided to experiment by booking the virtually unknown 21-year-old Elvis Presley from Memphis, Tennessee.

Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey as hosts, 1955

On the night of January 28th, 1956, there wasn’t a large studio audience due to the heavy rain outside, and because the future King was relatively unknown throughout the United States. However, the show started.

Tommy Dorsey first introduced Bill Randle, who had the honor to introduce Elvis to the nation for the first time. He said: “We’d like this time to introduce to you a young fellow who, like many performers – Johnnie Ray among them – came out of nowhere to be an overnight big star. This young fellow we saw for the first time while making a movie short. We think tonight that he’s going to make television history for you. We’d like you to meet him now – Elvis Presley.” 

Randle was right; the young fellow did make television history and even Stage Show’s ratings were increased, thanks to him. The audience was quite confused about Elvis’ appearance on the show, and many people thought that the Dorsey brothers made a mistake by inviting someone like Elvis in their show. However, Elvis would go on to prove them that the Stage Show was just the initial capsule for him, and soon he became a star like no other.

Ed Sullivan and Presley during rehearsals for his second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, October 26th, 1956

However, about a year and a half before Elvis made his first national TV appearance, he made the only commercial endorsement in his life, and it was for “Southern Maid Donuts.”

Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Hargrove started Southern Maid Donuts in 1937, and since it was an immediate success, many additional stores were opened in the south. Every member of the family was involved in the business, just like it is today when Southern Maid is used in over 100 stores throughout the Deep South and Southwest.

Mr. Hargrove introduced Southern Maid Donuts to Bruce Jones of Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1941 and he opened his franchise of Southern Maid Donuts. Bussiness was going well and became even better after the Louisiana Hayride country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, back in 1948.

Southern Maid Donuts Photo Credit


Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium  Photo Credit


Elvis Presley in Louisiana Hayride Photo Credit

Mr. Jones who was an excellent businessman was also a music buff. He loved music, and when Louisiana Hayride started, he saw a great opportunity to promote his product. Soon, he became a sponsor of the Louisiana Hayride and provided a box of hot glazed donuts for many singers.

In 1954, a young guitar player named Elvis Presley started performing at the Hayride and apparently liked the Southern Maid Donuts so much, that he agreed to make a commercial which was broadcasted during the Louisiana Hayride. He made the ad in exchange for a box of hot glazed donuts.

Read another story from us: Elvis Presley’s Army career: He donated his Army pay to charity and bought new TV sets for the post

He sang the jingle: “You can get them piping hot after 4 P.M., you can get them piping hot, Southern Maid Donuts hits the spot, you can get them piping hot after 4 P.M.” Unfortunately, the commercial was never released.

As reported by the official website of Southern Maid Donuts, “Elvis frequented the Shreveport store for donuts on his visits to the Louisiana Hayride. Other entertainers that sang the praises of Southern Maid include Minnie Pearl, Johnny Horton, and Johnny Cash.”