i realize that this is really a day late but the amount of questions regarding king cake has come up alot at work the last couple of days. i remember moving up to northern florida and taking my 1st trip to new orleans for mardi gras and i had no idea either. my hubby, luckily knew of the tradition and even the best bakery to get the traditional king cake. even for this area, there are quite a few people who had no idea what the cake or what the baby was all about. so i thought i would give a little educational post for those who wonder. i ended up learning a bunch too!
In the US Gulf Coast since the 1950s, the most common trinket has been a small plastic baby. Many people say this represents the baby Jesus, tied in to the connection with Epiphany. Many people attach no particular religious significance to the cake or trinket. The "baby in the king cake" was said to have become common after a New Orleans area bakery chain got a large shipment of such plastic baby dolls from Hong Kong very cheaply in the 1950s, and some people say there is little further significance to the baby, but earlier ceramic baby dolls as trinkets are documented in New Orleans back to the 1930s. Another local opinion passed down through families is the baby represents the re-birth of Father time for the new year. A trinket representing a king wearing a crown is the next most common design of trinket. Trinkets in the form of other figures have also been seen historically, and starting in the 1990s again became more common in the more expensive "gourmet" varieties of king cake. The common plastic baby of today is usually colored pink, brown, white or gold. Due to the choking hazard posed by small trinkets, some bakeries opt to include the "plastic baby" separately from the pastry. The plastic babies are most often found separately in cakes from stores not native to New Orleans such as Sav-A-Center, whereas local bakeries are more likely to sell cakes with babies already inside. Usually when kingcakes are ordered to be shipped out of New Orleans the cake and trinket
you can read more here
so did you celebrate mardi gras with a king cake? do you make or buy it?