I've been asked so I will do my best to reply - what is a King Cake?
The season of Mardi Gras begins on the Twelfth Night of Christmas. January 6. The Day of Epiphany. As a part of the Feast of Epiphany, the roots of the King Cake are born. Mardi Gras is a celebration involving royality and ceremony. The celebrations of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are best known to Americans. It originated in Europe, of course, and the King Cake represents a gift from the Wise Men, later known as Kings. Today's King Cakes are made of a brioche type of dough and iced or glazed with white icing, then sprinkled with three colors of sugar. The sugar colors are green, gold and purple. The colors of royality and good fortune.
The New Orleans version of Mardi Gras is different than the Cajun Mardi Gras in the central/southwestern area of Louisiana. The Cajun Mardi Gras is rural in origin and involves men on horseback going on a kind of a scavenger hunt for the ingredients of gumbo. It is raucaus and very male. The small communities still carry on the tradition.
In New Orleans, the parades roll in the streets of the French Quarter and along the Garden District and the uptown areas. A krewe is a private organization of people who enjoy participating in a parade, costumes, and a traditional masked ball. Different members of the krewe make up the royal hierarchy, with a king and queen at the helm. Membership in a krewe is by invitation only and although today the rules are a bit more relaxed, many krewes still keep the tradition of secrecy. Different parades are sponsored by different krewes. The oldest Krewe in New Orleans is the Krewe of Zulu. It is a krewe comprised of black New Orleanians from the business community and the favored throw from the parade is a coconut. I'm not kidding. Heads up.
The cry of "Throw me something, Mister" is heard as the parades roll. All sorts of trinkets and goodies are thrown to onlookers. Beads, originally glass and now plastic, are the most popular. Other throws can be candy, doubloons, plastic cups, mini frisbees, whistles, etc. All of the stuff bears the name of the krewe throwing it.
The season is fun. It is rowdy and it is celebrated all along the coast of Louisiana, in Mobile, in Gulfport and Biloxi, in Galveston and points in between. Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, is the day before the Wednesday beginning Lent. Party, then atone.
Laissez le bon temps rouler. Let the good times roll.
Anyway, a King Cake is served at parties during Mardi Gras season. Today the hidden surprise is a plastic baby. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby is tasked with providing the next cake at the next get-together. It is a symbol of good luck.