King Cake Baby
King Cake Baby Meaning
Finding the tiny plastic baby in your slice of king cake symbolizes luck and prosperity, and it earns you the title of “queen” or “king” of the festivities. However, you’re probably wondering why there is a baby in the king cake in the first place. There are two theories:
- Christian Roots - Religious revelers believe the baby symbolizes baby Jesus, connecting it to the cake's history with Kings Day. Also known as Epiphany, Kings Day is a Christian holiday commemorating the Three Kings' visit to Baby Jesus. King cake is enjoyed between King's Day and Mardi Gras. It is considered bad luck to eat king cake outside of Carnival season and will result in a rainy Mardi Gras day.
- Local Lore - New Orleans locals believe the plastic baby evolved from a historical event during Louisiana's colonial period. Legend has it that an ornate ring was baked into the elaborate cake served at the king's ball. Whoever found the expensive trinket in their slice of cake was crowned the king or queen of the balls leading up to the opulent Mardi Gras bash.
The plastic baby baked into modern king cakes blends these two traditions by replacing the expensive ring used at the king's ball with an affordable item imbued with religious symbolism. Today, whoever finds the plastic baby is transferred hosting duties for the next year and tasked with providing the king cake. Along with their new responsibilities, they also receive good luck.