The Biblical Story Behind the Mardi Gras King Cake and Why You’ll Find a Plastic Baby Inside


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Chef David Guas should be on your radar when it comes to King Cakes – a sweet bread-like dessert often eaten at Mardi Gras celebrations.

The New Orleans native, owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, Va., shares a little history with Fox News Digital about the beloved confectionery, and why you’ll find a plastic baby there. inside the royal cakes.

“King cake is to Mardi Gras what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving – without it, the holidays simply wouldn’t be the same! Every table in every home, office, cafeteria and living room will be graced with a king cake. kings sometime between Twelfth Night on Jan. 6 and Shrove Tuesday, when Lent begins,” said Guas, who is also author of “Dam Good Sweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style.”

“During this period, which can fortunately stretch for months depending on the calendar year, New Orleans is overrun with royal cakes and parties,” he added.

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As Guas explained, there are many traditions about the origins of the king cake ritual.

“A fanciful tale traces it back to pre-Christian societies in Western Europe where anyone who found a coin or a bean in a special cake was crowned king for the year,” he said. “Whether the story is true or what you believe, Christians have long served cakes containing coins or golden beans for the feast of Epiphany or Twelfth Night, a celebration of the visit of the three wise men – the Magi or kings – to the child. Jesus 12 days after his birth.”

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As we celebrate Mardi Gras, New Orleans native and pastry chef David Guas explains why King Cakes have a plastic baby inside.
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The shift from coins and beans to plastic babies apparently took place at the end of the 19th century.

“Current Kings Cake rituals in New Orleans evolved from the late 1800s when Mardi Gras Krewes (a term for corporate groups that held parades and parties) used these cakes to choose queens and kings to preside over weekly balls, beginning with the Twelfth Night Ball,” Guas said, noting that the kings cake tradition is said to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870.

Guas said that after seven days, whoever finds the baby in their slice will cook the next one.

“With the bean now a baby and the ball a bacchanalian celebration, the cake remains a sweet way to break bread with your party mates,” he said.

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