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Where Y’Eat: King Cake Gives Early Taste of a Revived Mardi Gras


King cakes hold sway, and king cake always finds a way. Last year’s Carnival season proved that many times over.

Back in 2021, with parades canceled and parties drastically limited, king cake remained one enduring emblem. Purveyors got creative, customers met them halfway and the king cake’s reign continued.

Those experiences provide a bit more confidence as Carnival season 2022 begins, with prospects ahead newly muddled by the latest COVID surge.

Here’s one certainty, we have a long season ahead, and for those who count the days of king cake season more closely than the calories of king cake, this year promises a regal romp.

Carnival season stretches more than seven weeks through Mardi Gras on March 1.

That’s 55 days of potential king cake, almost two weeks longer than last year when we had to cram all the eating into a mere 42 days.

Shipping will also undoubtedly play a big role this year. There’s long been a well-established market for moving these babies around the country. But many more king cake makers got into shipping during the pandemic and many more people are used to getting their hands on far away flavors this way now too.

My advice: don't rely only on an Internet search to find the best ones to ship. If you have a favorite king cake you can easily DIY your own shipping - with a sturdy box, some packing tape and maybe a few strings of those beads you know you have hanging around still .

And there are a lot of king cakes out there these days. Every season seems to bring new talent and contenders to the field, and wonderful new creations riffing on tradition or framing it in their own delicious ways.

That’s another blessing of a long carnival season - there’s time to play the field, to return the old favorites, to check some marks off your bucket list, and also, if your king cake desire wanes, there’s time to recuperate and get back in the game by season’s peak.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.