With the christening of a new year comes a new Mardi Gras season, and while the state of the 2022 Carnival season is facing uncertainty amidst COVID-19 surges, Louisiana’s passion for the king cake is as strong as ever according to this nola.com profile.
Last year when many Mardi Gras parades, balls, and parties had been canceled or significantly limited due to the pandemic, Louisiana citizens proved that the spirit of the season wasn’t going to disappear along with the celebratory events. This was seen in the steady king cake sales seen by bakeries during the 2021 Carnival season; in fact, some bakeries even saw an increase in profits in the year despite many traditional festivities being canceled.
So it stands to reason that as the calendar has transitioned into 2022, the interest in king cakes will not have been subsidized in the least, even as the prospects for the 2022 parade season are masked in uncertainty. With king cakes becoming available during the first week of January on Twelfth Night (January 5th), the start of Mardi Gras season is officially underway, and this year’s Carnival will be nearly two weeks longer than last year’s. The 2022 Mardi Gras season is held between Twelfth Night and Mardi Gras Day, which lands on March 1st, giving the public over seven weeks or 55 days of delicious king cakes to enjoy.
Many Louisiana bakeries are seeing the lengthier season as an opportunity to be more competitive in the name of the Carnival spirit and thus more inventive with their king cakes. This inventiveness is coming in the form of new flavors, textures, and partnerships. In a traditional year, New Orleans bakeries can showcase a competitive spirit due to the limited window of king cake availability despite the ever-growing public demand, but this year is shaping up to showcase a new cooperative spirit as various collaborations have already begun.
One such collaboration is the King Cake Hub which stands as a centralized location that houses several king cakes from various restaurants and bakeries in one spot. At the King Cake Hub, one can survey a variety of flavors, textures, and confections all in a single location, allowing you to truly compare different bakers’ approaches to the opulent dessert. Originally created in 2019 by Will Samuels, who was a notable community leader in New Orleans known for his previous forays into the Crescent City food and music world.
This year, the King Cake Hub has returned to New Orleans through the help of Samuel’s wife, Jennifer, who has brought back the celebrated and innovative king cake epicenter in accordance with her husband’s wishes. Will Samuels passed away from cancer at the age of 52 this past September, but his dream lives on in 2022 in two locations: the Zony Mash Beer Project on Thalia Street and The Historic New Orleans Collection in the French Quarter, which is accessible through the museum and cultural center’s gift shop on Royal Street.
In a similar spirit of Mardi Gras resilience, Steve Himelfarb, the founder of the Marigny Bakery and Restaurantpartnered with his neighbors at the NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) to bring back his legendary king cake to benefit a local high school’s culinary program. Himelfarb’s bakery had closed in 2020, but that didn’t stop him from returning in 2022 at the King Cake Hub and offering king cake preorders online as well.
Speaking of online sales, one of the areas of king cake commerce that saw tremendous growth in 2021 was the shipping of king cakes around the country. Because king cakes travel well and serve as a great way to share the holiday spirit with loved ones, 2022 is projected to similarly be a successful year in terms of king cakes sales and shipping. Now’s the time to conduct your research and support your favorite small bakery with a king cake shipment, allowing you to start the Mardi Gras season in spectacular style.
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