NEW YORK — Like many French expats here, Arnaud Schmitz enjoys celebrating January 6 the traditional way: by sharing a kings cake with his family and seeing who ends up biting on the plastic or ceramic trinket hidden somewhere in the city. the inside of the puff pastry and almonds. confection.
Whoever takes down the slice with the doodad is crowned king or queen for the coming year, echoing the feast of Epiphany, or Day of the Three Kings, which marks the biblical visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus. Bakeries selling the cake often include a paper wreath for new anointed ones, which makes the tradition especially appealing to small children.
The Kings Cake, whose origins date back to Roman times, is eaten in many forms and tastes around the world between January 6 and Mardi Gras, the last day before Lent. It is particularly popular in France, where millions of kings cakes are sold in the weeks surrounding Epiphany.
For Mr. Schmitz, however, the tradition comes with a real surprise: the cake he buys does not contain any trinkets.
“I think they’re just scared that someone might choke on it,” says Schmitz, who moved to New York City over a decade ago to work in the financial services industry. He says the charm is usually provided separately for the customer to hide if they wish.