So I was always under the impressions that this was a Mardi Gras tradition, as in America, I've see these come out in all their delish glory in February, overly decorated with icing and colored sugar to appease America's appetite for sugar, hiding that little plastic baby inside. Ever since returning, all the bakeries and stores have these elegantly displayed in their windows....yet without all the fluff and decoration I'm so accustomed to. Reverting to the handy dandy internets to explain this phenomenon, I found out this tradition actually has to do with the Epiphany which was the day the Three Kings came and gave their gifts to Jesus, and THIS is when you are to eat the cake. So as I was at the grocery store yesterday (Jan 6th), I decided to pick up a single serving portion just to give it a try. Come to find out, the Epiphany was said to have happened ON Jan. 6th, so my random timing was JUST in time. In any case, it's customary to bake a fève (broad bean) in the cake, but over the years, this has been replaced by a small trinket made of porcelain (once upon a time) or the present day plastic piece of junk. Whoever gets the trinket in their slice gets to be king for the day, wear the paper crown that comes with the cake, and is responsible to provide the cake the following year. To make distribution 'fair', the youngest in the group is to go under the table, and allocate the order in which slices are distributed.
'King Cake Smackdown'.