Beignets are the New Orleans’ pastries known throughout the world. The fried square doughnuts coated with powdered sugar are believed to have been brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. The yeasty, fluffy fried dough was originally often filled with fruit.
Café du Monde began selling the square pastries in the French Market in 1862, alongside café au lait – dark coffee with chicory and steamed milk. The coffee and doughnut stand along the docks, and across from Jackson Square, was popular with workers and tourists. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, it’s still a popular spot.
In 1870 Morning Call opened and began selling beignets at the opposite end of the French Market, and for a time even offered curb service to cars. Morning Call competed with Café du Monde for more than 100 years. But high rents forced Morning Call owners to the suburbs in 1974, where the coffee and beignet stand still operates near Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie. Morning Call also opened a stand in City Park in 2012.
The “French Market Doughnuts” weren’t commonly called beignets until the 1950s.
Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986.