Lyndon Johnson was always larger than life…and always very opinionated. So it’s really no surprise that he felt passionately about cinnamon rolls – but not just any cinnamon rolls. LBJ loved the cinnamon rolls baked in a small restaurant in San Marcos, Texas.
First taste: Even though Johnson was a college student in San Marcos from 1926-1930 at Southwest Texas State Teachers’ College, he probably wouldn’t have encountered the delectable cinnamon rolls until sometime in the 1940s when Manske’s Grill opened. But Johnson would have been in San Marcos on numerous occasions for political functions, and perhaps it is then that he first tasted the cinnamon rolls, known as Manske Rolls.
Shipped to the White House? Manske’s Grill was eventually sold and now operates as Gil’s Broiler, touting itself as “San Marcos’ Oldest Restaurant.” And they advertise that LBJ, as president, had Manske Rolls shipped to the White House. While there isn’t any documentation of such shipments, there is strong local lore and tradition that Johnson bit into the tasty cinnamon rolls while living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility, and its just the kind of thing that the larger-than-life LBJ would do.
My visit to San Marcos: I was in San Marcos in May 2014 and took the opportunity to stop by Gil’s Broiler and order one of their famous Manske Rolls. It was good, but to be honest, I’ve tasted better cinnamon rolls – but then again, I’m no Lyndon Johnson and I won’t ever be President.