Gold King Cake Baby
Gambino's King Cake

Gambino's King Cake

Gold King Cake Baby

The local newspaper has run a little king cake contest this week, and three of the five ‘winners’ have the same last name!

Randazzo, Randazzo, Randazzo, Haydel’s and Sucre made the cut when the votes were tallied. This creates the impression the contest is sponsored by Randazzo’s. I doubt it was, but the impression is real.

In a former Mardi Gras life, I wrote a series of columns ranking king cakes in the New Orleans metro area. I bought a lot of king cakes in those days, as I saw many Metairie, West Bank and New Orleans East parades back then and picked up the cakes while I was there.

Was it a legitimate ranking? Probably not, but I bought each cake I talked about. Less stores sold them in those days, and McKenzie’s was the 600 pound king cake gorilla. They had the first filled king cakes for sale. Back then, the supermarkets and pharmacies and convenience stores didn’t sell king cakes.  Only bakeries had them.

Back to the TP’s contest. All the Randazzo locations seem different, though some claim online that their recipe is the family’s. They have their own web sites and Face Book pages. There’s Randazzo’s Camellia City in Slidell, Manny Randazzo King Cakes in Metairie, and Nonna Randazzo Bakeries in Chalmette and Covington.

I had trouble finding any price for a picked up king cake at any of the Randazzo’s web sites. All included shipping that I could find.

To the contest’s credit, five other reader nominated bakeries in the poll were listed as ‘wildcard’ choices. They received at least 300 votes each. These wonderful bakers are Dianne’s King Cakes in Harahan, Gambino’s Bakery in Gretna and Metairie, La Dolce Nola, Metairie, Rouse’s Supermarkets all over town, and Tastee Donuts‘ McKenzie’s around town.

Pecan King Cake from Manny Randazzo's

Pecan King Cake from Manny Randazzo's

King cakes are HUGE in New Orleans. From January 6 until Mardi Gras Day, February 21, 2012-  All this time is king cake time!! NOLA King cakes feature more sugar than most.

Historically, king cakes have been around Europe for centuries before New Orleans was settled. We had plain king cakes for a long long time in NOLA. Then McKenzie’s Bakeries started filling their king cakes, and charged like $9.95 for a medium filled one. This was back in late 1970s as I recall.

Pretty soon, filled king cakes had created a whole new king cake economic model, based on a more expensive king cake. Then the mail order model was created, and hundreds of thousands of king cakes are shipped worldwide. Haydel’s sells 60,000 king cakes, and that’s how they survive as a top bakery in 2012.

Who makes the best filled and unfilled king cakes in the NOLA metro area?  There are a lot of entrants, since the shipping/local markets have exploded over the last three decades.

http://bit.ly/emh7cl is a King Cakes of the World article I found while researching this post. The blog is entitled- A Malaysian in France.

 

French King Cake

French King Cake

Sucre King Cake

Sucre King Cake

In the Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This is known as the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings called a King’s Cake.  In these early cakes, a pea, coin or bean was hidden inside the cake. Now, King Cakes contain a tiny plastic ‘baby’. The person whose piece contains the baby has to throw the next King Cake party. King Cake parties are enjoyed by the young and old all over the region and the world via the internet.

Haydel's King Cake

Haydel's King Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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