Where Y'Eat: When King Cake Season Morphs With Saints Season

Jan 11, 2018

What happens when purple, green and gold morphs with black and gold? New Orleans is now getting a long overdue refresher course on the phenomenon and one of the ways it shows up is king cake.

Through an intersection of calendars, one set by the NFL, the other by the Catholic church, the pro football postseason unfolds during Carnival season. The Saints sadly are not always in playoff contention, but when they are the impact makes a mark across this city’s culture, and that includes king cake.

From big grocery stores to neighborhood bakeshops, the result is resounding. When the Saints are in the playoffs, king cake sales are through the roof.

More games mean more parties and more people toting king cakes along. It’s simple math. Mixing two local obsessions, the Saints and Carnival, it’s a combination that can be as explosive as a Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara ground attack.

As extended postseason campaign like we’re seeing now can change the entire tenor of what’s already the busiest time of year for New Orleans bakers.

It’s not just king cake. Saints wins have a remarkable effect on the realm of food and drink here. People are happy, people are spending. But what’s so interesting about the king cake example is how it unites two of this city’s celebrations of itself. 

A big Saints game day in New Orleans can feel like a free wheeling festival held around thousands of TV screens. There’s a feeling that the entire city is together, and even people who otherwise eschew pro sports are carried along.  

King cake fits right in. It’s just a simple ring of sugared dough after all, but add New Orleans tradition, add the personal and collective enthusiasm and spirit that people bring to their celebrations here, and king cake is transformed into an edible emblem of home. It’s not exactly a miracle, but it does take belief, and that’s something that Saints fans know all about.