“I don’t even like king cake!”

I say this multiple times every year from Jan. 6 to whenever Fat Tuesday rolls around, usually with my mouth full of king cake. 

I grew up on McKenzie’s – the one with the sprinkle-and-candied-cherry piece – probably because there was a McKenzie’s down the street from my elementary school where all the frazzled parents stopped after being informed on the morning commute that their kid got the baby and had to bring in a king cake that day. 

(This would not fly now, as my child’s school only allows king cakes from two nut-free bakeries in town and so you have to plan and order in advance. I don’t think 1980s-era parents knew how easy they had it!)

I’m sure that McKenzie’s – like Chef Boyardee ravioli and Lunchables and pizza rolls, all foods I loved as a kid but wouldn’t eat now – probably wouldn’t have held up that well, but still, the “new” McKenzie’s king cake is not the old McKenzie’s king cake, so I will never really know. But when I think of king cake, that’s still where my mind goes. 

I was probably in high school before I tried a piece of king cake with the gloopy white frosting, which seems ubiquitous now, and I was not a fan, even then. It was too sweet, too sticky, too just not-my-scene.

I sort of like filled king cakes, depending on the filling. I had a piece with bittersweet chocolate in it from Gracious that was delightful, easy on the cinnamon and frosting, basically just a slightly more festive chocolate croissant, and I loved it. I enjoy the apple-and-goat cheese from Cake Cafe/NOCCA. The cream cheese from Dong Phuong, if you are lucky enough to find one, doesn’t hit me as too cloyingly sweet, even though I don’t like it enough to stand in line for it. 

In general, though, I prefer my Carnival calories in the form of salty snacks: Popeyes, Zapps, po’ boys, muffulettas, Bloody Marys …

I’m not into the gimmick-iness of sushi king cakes and taco king cakes, necessarily, but I wouldn’t say no if someone put one in front of me. 

Then again, I wouldn’t say no to a piece of actual king cake if someone put one in front of  me because I have basically no willpower at all. 

Which leads to me shoving king cake in my mouth while declaring, “I don’t even like king cake.”

And here we are again, full circle. Happy Carnival, y’all.