The Discontinued Cracker Barrel Gravy We Aren't Getting Back Any Time Soon

Cracker Barrel is a quaint dining establishment notable for featuring southern culinary staples on its menu, such as chicken fried steak (which is a tenderized cut of cubed steak that's breaded and fried). Red-eye gravy is another classic recipe that appeared on Cracker Barrel's menu, one that was met with great delight by fans of southern sauces. However, the gravy has since been removed from the menu, with no indication from the restaurant that it will ever make a return.

Cracker Barrel was founded in 1969, per the company website. More than five decades later, the restaurant maintains its commitment to its customers by offering wholesome, home-cooked meals made with quality ingredients. Its dedication to customer satisfaction is a large part of the chain's charm, which is why it's so confusing that Cracker Barrel would remove an item that is a staple of southern culinary tradition and beloved by fans of the establishment. 

A beloved southern staple leaves a gravy-sized hole

For all the furor surrounding red-eye gravy, the recipe is unbelievably simple, as it consists of only two ingredients. Red-eye gravy preparations include the remnants left behind after frying a piece of country ham in a pan, which are then combined with black coffee. As for the somewhat confounding name, it's supposedly based on the way the fat from the ham will form a red-tinged circle in the gravy as it's being cooked.

Red-eye gravy is a standard accompaniment for fried ham, but it can also be served with many other foods. A few common pairings include potatoes, biscuits, cornbread, or grits, aka ground corn seasoned with salt and butter. It's true that Cracker Barrel still offers other gravy options, such as sawmill gravy (a southern-style béchamel sauce), as well as standard brown gravy. However, the loss of red-eye gravy remains a mystery to Cracker Barrel devotees.

No one knows why red-eye gravy was nixed

As reported by Mental Floss, the removal of the red-eye gravy occurred in 2017, right around the time the chain added shepherd's pie to the menu. The restaurant never provided clarification for the menu adjustment, which left lots of people scratching their heads (and missing their favorite fried ham accompaniment). However, a news release issued by Cracker Barrel in 2020 heralding its "a new, simplified dinner menu" may shed some light on the matter.

While there were three years between the discontinuation of red-eye gravy and the new menu, Cracker Barrel's Vice President of Culinary Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer explained "this menu enhancement has been in progress for some time." That could mean that removing red-eye gravy was all part of the plan to welcome new dinner options like pot roast supper and country fried pork chops. Of course, that doesn't satisfy any lingering red-eye gravy cravings patrons may have. In this case, it's worth checking out duplicate recipes.