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What's the Deal with King Cake Babies?

king cake babies

Mardi Gras is a special time in Southern Louisiana. From parades to parties, we love celebrating Carnival with family and friends. One of the more fun, and interesting traditions of Mardi Gras is the King Cake, and the baby inside.

The History of King Cake Babies

While for many people, the king cake baby means nothing more than it is their turn to buy the next king cake, the history of the little plastic baby has a history that goes back to France, in the late 1800’s.

According to Carnival historians, the tradition started in the 1870’s with a golden bean. On January 6, 1870 (or King’s Day or Epiphany – which is the official start to the Mardi Gras season), a golden bean was baked into a cake and served to two young women. The one that found the bean was crowned queen. This tradition is still observed by many today.

As far as the actual baby, a New Orleans’ bakery, McKenzie’s Pastry Shoppes, claims to be the originator. According to the owner, Donald Entringer Sr., in an interview with the Times-Picayune in 1990, “We were the first to use the babies. A salesman came in one day and said, ‘Look at this cute little thing. It won’t get lost like a pecan or a bean.’ “

What About Baby Jesus?

 While many people believe king cake babies are a representation of the Baby Jesus, Mr Entringer disagrees, “I’ve heard people say it’s supposed to represent the Christ Child, but that’s not true. Why we picked this, I don’t know. It was cute. It was just a trinket that happened to be a baby.” 

While this may be true, the baby has come to represent Jesus for many, and like most things in pop culture, the meaning of something has much more to do with the person than the history behind it. Whatever the meaning, the king cake baby is a great tradition that we are happy to participate in!

And if you would like to celebrate the king cake baby tradition, Cajun Crawfish offers king cakes in a variety of flavors, all with king cake babies inside! And with king cake delivery all year long, you don’t even have to wait until Carnival season!