clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What is King Cake Baby? Meet the terrifying New Orleans NBA All-Star weekend mascot

It has to do with Mardi Gras. Trust us.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine you’re watching some basketball in New Orleans like any red-blooded American. That’s a fun thing I will also be doing, especially during NBA All-Star weekend.

There are many things about New Orleans that make the city a unique and special place. One of them is the King Cake Baby.

Here is King Cake Baby scaring the hell out of multiple people.

You’re not the only one who finds the mascot creepy. He’s been giving folks the heebeegeebees since debuting in 2014.

He freaked out some old people.

And Tracy McGrady.

And McGrady’s colleague on The Jump, Zach Lowe.

Also a local news crew.

And a very tepid Pelicans fan.

Also Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson.

What in the name of all of Bourbon Street is that thing?

King Cake Baby is a seasonal mascot because King Cake is a seasonal food. The cake is made all over the world, but in Southern Louisiana, it’s a staple of the Carnival season, which runs from Jan. 6 to Fat Tuesday. That’s the day before Ash Wednesday and 47 days before Easter.

You know that day as Mardi Gras, although the entire Carnival season is typically called Mardi Gras at this point. The mascot shows up at Pelicans games and around the city throughout this festival. New Orleans hosts the NBA All-Star game in 2017, so you can expect some King Cake Baby on your TV or social media at some point during the proceedings.

Typically, trinkets are hidden inside the cake when it’s baked. But in the 1950s, a New Orleans bakery popularized hiding a tiny baby Jesus inside the cake.

Now there’s an oversized counterpart roaming around NBA games. And it’s more than just scaring players and fans. It’s part of concerted effort by the Pelicans’ organization to appeal to down home Louisianans:

"All we’re concerned about is appealing to our culture. We’re not worried about what anybody else says. What’s important is that fans understand as a team and an organization, we get it. We’re not marketing to people who come down for Mardi Gras. We’re marketing to the people who live here year-round, who never see the French Quarter except maybe twice a year if they want to go to dinner someplace. Once you get past tourist New Orleans, that’s the stuff people come back for. Mardi Gras is great, we all love it and we all participate in it, but it’s the rest of the year stuff that makes New Orleans so special."

How would one make this king cake?

Glad you asked. The cake looks lovely, even if the mascot, in fact, does not.

It comes in various shapes and sizes, and many of them are of the sweet variety. Our friends at SB Nation LSU blog, And The Valley Shook have a savory version they call their own that’s filled with Boudin. Here are the ingredients:

King Cake/Bread Dough (really, this is just lightly sweetened bread dough)

2 packages of active yeast (about a quarter of an ounce)

2.5 cups of warm (100-120 degrees) water

1/2 cup sweet and condensed milk

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1 tbsp sugar1 tbsp salt

about 9-11 cups of flour

Melted butter

Via And The Valley Shook

Here’s a more conventional version:

So settle in and enjoy some cake. And try to sleep well after seeing the large baby. He really won’t try to hurt you.