Mardi Gras King Cake Flavored Stuff: Reviews

I’ve never heard anyone say the words, “Let’s go get a Mardi Gras King Cake!” It’s just a King Cake. I honestly just put Mardi Gras on there first in a feeble effort to generate a bit more traffic. That, and it gives anyone unfamiliar with King Cakes a clue as to what this post is going to be about.

As always, I understand the irony of having a blog called “FIT for Dragon*Con” and reviewing things that, if you are trying to be fit, you have no business eating or drinking. But, I’m probably going to be changing the name of this blog pretty soon anyway, as I am not fit, and I am considering not ever going back to Dragon*Con.

I have no idea if these items are available everywhere. I figure they may be a bit confusing to folks who don’t know what a King Cake is.

“A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated in a number of countries with the festival of Epiphany at the end of the Christmas season, and in other places with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras / Carnival.

The cake often has a small plastic baby (said to represent Baby Jesus) inside (or sometimes placed underneath), and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations.”
– from the Wikipedia entry

Here, it’s traditional to have a King Cake at every Mardi Gras party. Among my friends, it is usually a guest that brings it. Then, a plastic baby is hidden inside. If you get the piece with the baby, you have to bring the King Cake next time. In olde timey times, if you got the baby (or whatever was hidden inside), you were crowned as the “Lord of Misrule” and got to be King of Carnival until Fat Tuesday, when you were sacrificed to our pagan gods. No foolin’. Nowadays, you get off easy (a little too easy, if you ask me) and just have to drop a few bucks on a King Cake.

It seems like  every year themed and seasonal stuff gets bigger and bigger, which is fine with me because I love themey and seasonal things. As I’ve said before, I just want to embrace the different times of the year and really enjoy what they have to offer. Of course, just being seasonal doesn’t make something good, as we’ll see in these reviews.

This is a picture of a King Cake that I got a few weeks ago from Battiste Bakery. It was delicious. You can pick up King Cakes from your local grocery store but, for the most part, they are not very good. A traditional King Cake is like a cinnamon roll brioche that has been made into a circle to represent… something. I know everything in Mardi Gras is symbolic of something, and I know that King Cakes are made into a ring for a reason, but I’m just gonna let you wiki that one yourself. I’m sure it is some religious reason, as every holiday seems to be some sort of religious spin on an old pagan tradition.

20140114_225058

Most of the King Cakes that you will find at your local supermarket taste fine on the day you get them, but the next day are magically dried up and taste like a cinnamon roll that someone left out in the Sahara for 200 years. You can also get them in a variety of different flavors. In fact, the one pictured above is filled with Bananas Foster, which was a nice change from the grocery store ones that are filled with cardboard. Most of them have colored sugar on top also, not the buttercream seen here which, like the Banana goop, was a nice change from the cavity-inducing crunch of food coloring and sugar.

When selecting a King Cake, you have many options. Do you go with a cream cheese-filled thing with mystery jam slathered on the underside of it, so that your hands get good and sticky every time you touch it? Or do you go to your local bakery and get one that has the baby already inserted that is guaranteed to murder the shit out of whoever gets that piece?

But when it comes to King Cake flavored things, you really only have one choice: a chemical facsimile of a cinnamon roll…

#1. King Cake Flavored Coffee from Community Brand

20140112_125652I don’t know if King Cake is trademarked or not, and I realize that Carnival season is the same thing as Mardi Gras season, but for the life of me I can’t even begin to imagine why they didn’t just say this was “King Cake Flavored” coffee.

Community is a brand that I’ve always considered local, even though it’s from Shreveport or Baton Rouge or something. Before things like “local microbrews”, “regional” was synonymous with “local”. Like I still say Abita is local, even though it’s an hour and a half drive away, and that’s if you’re Stroker Ace.

I guess part of all that is that, for a long time, there was no genuinely local beer. Now, there’s beers in Huntsville and Birmingham, but Abita is still way closer than either of those places.

Anyway, the coffee is good. Better than I expected, actually. In general, like most dudes, I prefer my coffee “unflavored” and black. Whether it’s because of some inherited macho attitude or not, most of the time I don’t want any foolishness involved with the java. My dad once told me, “If you can drink your coffee black, you can drink coffee anywhere.” I think I was about 8 when he told me that.

As I’ve expressed in past coffee reviews, I don’t feel like a person should have to add anything to the coffee for it to taste good. If you have to add vanilla cream for your vanilla coffee to taste like vanilla, the coffee has failed miserably.

You don’t have to add anything to Scotch to make it taste like God’s peepee. You shouldn’t have to add cream to make coffee palatable. If you have to add something, then you don’t like coffee, you like Starbucks.

This Community coffee is delicious. I plan to buy numerous bags of it in preparation for the coming Mardi Gras festivities. I think you can get it in a “whole bean” version for you hippies and your French Pressinators, or you can get a ground version for auto-drip coffeemakers.

It smells really nice brewing, which is a big part of coffee’s allure. I’ll never forget Johnny Tremain being disappointed by the bitter taste of coffee, after it smelled so good to him.

The smell of this delicious stuff will make your house smell like a bakery. As it says on the package, “hints of vanilla and cinnamon”. But this is no bogus claim: this coffee does taste like a traditional King Cake. Or at least the way King Cake-flavored stuff should taste.

I give it an 8/10 something funnies. Jacks. 8/10 jacks. Two points off because there’s no booze in it, and that is definitely something that must be included in any Mardi Gras beverage, and is definitely Community’s fault.

#2. Blue Bell “Mardi Gras King Cake” ice cream

20140206_140035Here is, genuinely, an instance of someone calling a King Cake a “Mardi Gras King Cake”.

My cousin and I discussed today about whether or not these King Cake flavored items are available everywhere. The name “Mardi Gras King Cake” makes me think this ice cream is, because no one would know what the fuck a King Cake is outside of our region. But people see “Mardi Gras” and the purple lid color, and they know that this must be something people do during Mardi Gras.

20140206_140044

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m not a big fan of the sweets. Which is weird, since I’m reviewing items that are flavored like a decadent pastry. I guess I’m not a reliable source, then, to be honest. It’s probably why I like the coffee better than anything else in this post.

Along those lines, this stuff is too sweet. It’s also kinda gritty, for some reason.

20140206_140101If I am to believe the folks at Blue Bell, King Cakes taste like sugar, dirt, birthday cake, cotton candy, and cookie dough. Because there are random balls of cookie dough mixed in there also. It really does taste like a mix of their Birthday Cake flavor and their Cotton Candy flavor, if they have one. Ok, it just tastes like cotton candy is in there somewhere.

Is it good? Yeah, it’s really good, if you like sugar and ice cream and sugary ice cream.

Does it faithfully replicate the flavor of a King Cake? Eh, maybe. Maybe the grit is supposed to recreate the experience of eating the typical supermarket, dried-out, King Cake. I would prefer more cinnamon, if it’s to remind me of a King Cake.

But for that matter, if you wanted a King Cake flavored dessert, why not just go get a King Cake?

I give this stuff a 6.5/10 plastic Jesuses. Because there aren’t any plastic Jesus babies mixed into it. And it’s too sweet. For me.

#3. King Cake Flavored Vodkas

What the hell is up with flavored vodkas these days? Things have gone completely off  the rails. Pinnacle, I’m looking at you. Settle the fuck down. Go sit in a corner and figure out where you went wrong.

Much like coffee, I don’t want my shit flavored. Unless it is seasonal and themey. Then I’m all over it.

I was aware that the flavored vodkas existed. They were on my radar. A friend of mine’s wife brings a bottle of cotton candy-flavored vodka to our Halloween party every year and guzzles it like water and, usually, knocks something over.

But it wasn’t until 2 days ago that I realized how far vodka has gone down that rabbit hole.

Have you ever tasted unflavored vodka? Good, old-fashioned, potato, vodka-flavored vodka?

As someone who was never a vodka drinker, I had not until I started hanging out with a Russian friend of mine who enjoys doing shots of it, followed by eating some sort of salty thing, like a pickled something.

Vodka does not taste good, to me. I’ve been a whiskey man since Jump Street, and haven’t really explored other liquors very much. Sure, occasionally I’ll have a rum drink by the pool, or I’ll drink some gin and tonics like W.C. Fields during Mardi Gras, but for the most part, I stick to my Southern roots and drink whiskey of some sort.

If they made a whiskey-flavored vodka, I might like that.

I have tried 3 King Cake-flavored vodkas to date, the best of which being Pinnacle’s. I realize I kinda dissed and dismissed them above, but when it comes to flavored potato liquor, they seem to know what they’re doing. I’m not gonna give it a full review though, as I don’t have any pictures of it.

Lucky Player King Cake Vodka, from France

Goddamn, France. Go back to the wine cellar, this shit is turrible. It’s also expensive as hell. At $32/bottle, this is definitely the most expensive bottle of vodka I’ve ever bought.

20140205_142552“Five Times Distilled”. They may need to distill this mess one more time.

I will say this for it: you can tell it is made with a good vodka. The other one I am going to review is Taaka, if that tells you anything.

For one thing, this stuff is 80 Proof, which makes me think that it’s not just a vodka that has a bunch of added flavor in it. It’s actually distilled to taste this way.

And this way tastes like ass.

Here’s the festive back of the bottle:

20140206_140018I guess the “excitement, essence, and love of Mardi Gras” tastes like a hobo peeing in the street, because there is some flavor in there that, as my wife said, “Really gets you in the back of the jaw and makes you go ‘aaack’.”

She also said, “This is like a Mardi Gras trick!” Like, a prank you would pull on an enemy or a friend that kinda deserved it.

So, yeah, neither of us non-vodka-drinkers like it, so take it with a grain of potato.

For both of these vodkas, I poured out a shot for me and her and we drank them down at the same time. My wife has never been one to shy away from shots, but even she could not finish her whole shot without a little coaching.

Maybe it’s because our palates are not refined enough to detect the small nuances of expensive French vodka that comes in a bottle with a cork. Or maybe this stuff just plain sucks and is way overpriced.

I give it 3/10 beads. Not even the good beads. Not good enough to show yer bewbs anyway. I do not detect any sort of traditional King Cake flavor in it at all. There’s some sort of chemical sweetness to it, but it’s not cinnamon or “King Cake Spice”, which is what I’m sure exists and is what every one of these other things uses. Do the French even eat King Cake? Maybe they just took a shot in the dark and failed. Oh well, if I could have taken a look at their douchey website before I bought it, I probably would known it wasn’t going to be good.

– Taaka Brand King Cake-Flavored Vodka

20140205_142603After a peek at Taaka’s wikipedia page (they don’t have a website) I found out that Taaka is from New Orleans (not Mother Russia!), so it makes sense that they would have a King Cake vodka.

As you can see on the bottle, this stuff is 60 Proof. This makes me think that Taaka took their regular, awful, 80 Proof vodka and mixed it with some liquified “King Cake Spice”, adding the flavor, but also lowering the alcohol content.

Though this may be the case, the taste is way better than the Lucky Player bullmess. It’s also closer to a traditional King Cake flavor. However, the tasty taste comes with an underlying aftertaste of shitty vodka. But at $8/bottle, it presents a much better value to the average reveler.

If you know anything about drink, you know that Taaka is a middleman between Aristocrat and Smirnoff. It’s not bottom shelf, but it’s not middle shelf either.

Clearly some people love it, though. When a guy I used to work with retired, I got him a handle of his favorite alcohol: Taaka vodka.

I put my bottle of King Cake Taaka Vodka in the freezer, as everything horrible tastes better cold. Not that this is horrible. I guess I should have said “everything mediocre tastes slightly good when it’s freezing cold and you can’t taste it”.

I give this stuff 5/10 beads. You might wanna show yer bewbs for it, but only if you just got them “done” and wanna show ’em off anyway.

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So that’s it. I hope you enjoyed reading about King Cake-flavored seasonal Mardi Gras stuff. The moral of the story is, if you like coffee, you’re gonna like the coffee one. And if you like vodka, you might like the Taaka one. And if you like spray tans, you can have the rest of this bottle of Lucky Player because, otherwise, I’m gonna hafta trick someone into drinking it.

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4 Responses to Mardi Gras King Cake Flavored Stuff: Reviews

  1. Shidoshi B. Springsteen says:

    For the coffee, “Carnivale” may have been chosen as the descriptor to evoke the perceived classiness of all things European. After all, hip 30-something women don’t reminisce over their mugs about that cute waiter from the cafe in Newark.

  2. Here We Come A-Waffling says:

    Rest in peace, Harold Ramis. If a standard Twinkie represented the normal amount of grief I would have for the passing of a celeb in the greater Hollywood area, yours would be a Twinkie… 35 feet long; weighing approximately 600 pounds.

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