It's Twelfth Night, so New Orleanians are now free to consume king cake without fear of cursing the New Orleans Saints.
This morning, I stopped in at King Cake Hub, the new Mid-City concept from restaurateurs Will and Jennifer Samuels. They're bringing king cakes from around the region to one place, so you can get that Hi-Do or Cannata's or Girls Gone Vegan cake all in one place. (The Girls Gone Vegan king cakes were sold out by 1 p.m., according to Jennifer. Make of that what you will, New Orleans.)
Hub will offer king cake from many area bakeries
I picked up a Gambino's "Epiphany" king cake, which is a collaboration between the bakery and King Cake Hub. It's described as "a classic dough honoring 70 years of Carnival tradition topped with a modern twist of your new favorite cream cheese icing." (How is it? I won't know until tomorrow; I bought it for the office.) It was $20 plus tax, which seemed a fair price for a large king cake of Gambino's quality.
That price, however, drew divided opinions on social media:
$22? Guess it's been a while since I actually bought a king cake and did not freeload off of someone else.— Danny Monteverde (@DCMonteverde) January 6, 2019
Depends.For one of brioche, medium sized, with no icing and only light glaze, and no sugary junk “stuffing” it, I would go to $25.— Bonafide Stable Leyda (@NOLALeyda) January 6, 2019
Dorgnacs was $25 today, which is too much. But I still paid it.— Jason Camelford (@CanadianNolaJay) January 6, 2019
In today's The Advocate, Ian McNulty breaks down the many, many variations of king cake around town these days, from the sweet to the savory, the basic to the bougie. Besides the traditional brioche with some combination of colored sugar, icing and filling, there's a muffuletta king cake, a boudin king cake and a crawfish-stuffed king cake.
Given the price of everything in New Orleans these days, I think $20 is fair for a large king cake of some quality, though you certainly can get decent supermarket king cakes closer to the $10 price point.
Once upon a time, the king cake arrived in New Orleans as just a piece of the Carnival celebration.
But if you make minimum wage, a $20 king cake represents almost three hours' work — and if you keep finding the baby in your work or family king cake (and you don't cheat), paying $20 and up for king cakes could get spendy.
How much would you pay for a king cake in 2019 New Orleans?