Where Y'Eat: When Saints Are Marching, Why King Cakes Fly Off the Shelf

Jan 10, 2019

What happens when purple, green and gold morphs with black and gold? New Orleans is now witnessing the phenomenon and one of the ways it shows up is king cake.

Through an intersection of two authoritative 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.

With the Saints playing, New Orleans is partying, and this time of year you can bet someone has brought a king cake to the party.

Of course, it’s not just king cake. Saints wins have a remarkable effect across this town. People are happy, people are spending including at bars and restaurants. What makes the king cake example special is how it unites two celebrations of New Orleans itself.

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

King cake fits right in. It’s just a simple  cake after all, but add New Orleans tradition, add the personal and collective enthusiasm and spirit that people bring to their celebrations in this town, 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.