THE HISTORY OF
Although Caluda’s King Cake provides options for holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s, and Halloween, the traditional Mardi Gras King Cake remains an important foundation of our bakery. Here’s a little background on our favorite dessert.
WHAT IS KING CAKE?
The king cake is a mixture of a French pastry and a coffee cake. Its oval shape and festive colors give it a unique appeal. The original version features the royal colors of gold, purple, and green. Gold represents power, purple represents justice, and green signifies faith. The shape of the cake symbolizes the unity of faiths.
HOW IS KING CAKE MADE?
The base of the king cake is made of cinnamon dough that is braided together. The dough is covered with poured sugar and colored sugar sprinkles. Some varieties may even include fillings like cream cheese, strawberry, lemon, and other flavors. At Caluda’s, we braid our dough and create colored sugars in-house by hand.
It’s important to note that there are many king cake versions that contain a variety of ingredients. However, the colored sugar or icing, cinnamon dough, and oval shape are consistent throughout most recipes.
WHERE DID KING CAKE COME FROM?
It is believed that the king cake tradition originated in France and was brought to New Orleans in 1870. The French version of this local delicacy is made of an almond-filled puff pastry that gives off a flaky texture. It also features a decorative pattern and is sometimes topped with a paper crown. The New Orleans style cake shares more similarities with the Spanish or Latin version, which is ring-shaped and topped with icing and candied fruit.
WHAT IS ITS RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE?
In Roman Catholic tradition, the Epiphany represents the day that Jesus first made himself known to the three wise men. King cake season officially begins on this holy day, which is observed on January 6th and ends on Mardi Gras day.
WHY IS THERE A BABY IN KING CAKE?
A miniature plastic baby, which symbolizes baby Jesus, is placed inside of each cake to signify the Epiphany. The person who gets the slice that contains the baby is known as the king. They are charged with the responsibility of bringing a king cake to the next event. This exchange lasts throughout the entire Mardi Gras season and is enjoyed by groups of all kinds, from families to coworkers.
Call Caluda’s King Cake today at (504) 218-5655 to get a piece of Mardi Gras shipped to your front door. You can also create an account and place your order online.
THE HISTORY OF MARDI GRAS
In New Orleans
Visitors come from far and wide to take part in New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. With an average of 1.4 million in attendance, Carnival Season in South Louisiana is one of the region’s single most significant traditions. The revelry, colorful beads, costumes, and floats may be symbols of the holiday that shuts down the Big Easy, but the history of Mardi Gras is as diverse as the city’s heritage.
MARDI GRAS AROUND THE WORLD
For many who are familiar with how New Orleans likes to party, it’s easy for them to forget (or completely overlook) the fact that Carnival is a religious-based holiday. Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is steeped in Roman Catholic tradition and is celebrated in basically any country with a large Catholic population. From France, Spain, and Italy to Cuba, Brazil, and Trinidad & Tobago, Carnival Season starts with what is known as the Epiphany, or All King’s Day. It begins on January 6 and culminates on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lenten Season. Each country and culture celebrates differently, but the traditions typically include balls, costumes, parades, and parties—a chance to fatten up before 40 days and nights of fasting. Mardi Gras Day is determined by Easter and therefore, changes every year.
PARADES, KREWES & MARDI GRAS INDIANS
Mardi Gras parades and the groups, known as krewes, that form them are just as storied as the city itself. Many of the social aid and pleasure clubs comprised of legacies of New Orleans’ oldest families have some of the longest standing krewes. The historic Twelfth Night Revelers, for example, have been holding secret balls since 1870. A few of the most famous and largest parades to roll through New Orleans are Zulu, Rex, Endymion, and Bacchus. The Mardi Gras Indians, founded well over a century ago, are a mystic krewe with a rich history in the various wards and neighborhoods of the city. Catch them parading with their distinct tribes during Carnival and year-round wearing elaborate, handmade costumes and motifs.
CARNIVAL IN THE BIG EASY
Much of what we know of Mardi Gras in New Orleans is owed to our French and Spanish colonial history. Before the Louisiana Purchase, the Crescent City was affectionately known as the Northernmost Caribbean city, with Creole French its primary language and the Catholic Church at the helm. Mardi Gras was originally celebrated in the form of masked balls and private parties with, of course, the consumption of the famous King Cake, a doughy, oval-shaped delicacy of cinnamon and colorful sugar. But as the colony grew, so did the celebration. Even after Louisiana was purchased by the United States, becoming the nation’s 18th state, Louisiana Creole culture persisted. The first parade rolled through the city in 1837 with the first float making its debut in 1857.
FUTURE MARDI GRAS DATES
February 21, 2023
February 13, 2024
March 4, 2025
February 17, 2026
February 9, 2027
Come to New Orleans and get a taste of Mardi Gras for yourself! For local travel resources, visit www.neworleansonline.com/ or request a visitor guide here.
Can’t make it this year? Get Mardi Gras shipped to your home with an authentic king cake from Caluda’s!