I remember when I moved to NOLA, only plain King Cakes were sold in a few bakeries, especially McKenzie’s Bakeries around town. No groceries sold them. All King Cakes were plain. These were the dark ages of King Cakes. A number of years later, McKenzie’s introduced the first filled King Cakes, and there was no looking back.  Now, every grocery and bakery in town wouldn’t consider not selling King Cakes- they bring in shoppers.  New Orleanians cannot get enough King Cakes! We live in the enlightened age of King Cakes, with a zillion flavors available to anyone in the world with an internet connection.

To show just how far filled King Cakes have come, here’s the list from Rouse’s Supermarkets current circular of the various fillings and flavors they sell:

Apple Cream Cheese
Bavarian Cream
Blueberry Cream Cheese
Cookies & Cream
Cream Cheese
Heavenly Hash
Pina Colada
Strawberry Cream Cheese

That’s a lot of flavors, and even more exist. Pick a flavor, and someone makes and sells that flavored King Cake!

I conducted an unscientific poll among my facebook, twitter, myspace, and nola.com Mardi Gras forum ‘friends’. The overwhelming choice of most for the best King Cake in the metro area is Haydel’s Bakery first and Randazzo’s second.

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.