January is known to be a slower month for many bakeries. The very idea of finding a healthy snack inside a bakery doesn’t usually go along with a New Year’s resolution of eating better. Owners and employees too often find the slow traffic to be a strain on their emotions as well as their pay check. That’s why many bakeries outside of New Orleans have added king cakes and other Mardi Gras sweets to their production list.
The idea of celebrating Mardi Gras traditional treats can be just what you need to entice New Year’s dieters back to your showcase. With the right products in front of the right customers, you and your staff can see increased traffic and sales. What better way to kick off January?
What is Mardi Gras?
Many people have heard of Mardi Gras, but very few know how it started and why we still celebrate it every year. A little information about the who, what, when, and why of the celebration can help you find the best way to market your product to your customers. You can speak with authority, your staff will be better able to sell the product, and the overall customer experience will be greater.
History of Mardi Gras
With Ash Wednesday kicking off 40 days of fasting during Lent, devout Roman Catholics rid their homes of the rich, fatty foods in the form of feasts and celebrations. Merrymakers binged on eggs, milk, lard, and meat to prepare for weeks various fasting rituals. The culmination of the feasts occurred on Mardi Gras– which is the French term meaning “Fat Tuesday.”
The celebrations continued in New Orleans and other French settlements. Street parties, masked balls, and lavish dinners soon became the custom. But in 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit parade complete with marching bands and rolling floats. The tradition of tossing beads, wearing masks, decorating floats, and eating king cake came to life.
Why Celebrate Mardi Gras Outside of New Orleans?
Mardi Gras is only a ‘legal’ holiday in the state of Louisiana. However, many states across the south celebrate with elaborate festivities that draw large crowds. Even without large parades and masked balls, the idea of participating in the boisterous celebration can be exciting.
Create packages or party ideas that appeal to your customers. Can you target business owners to consider a small work gathering? Can you target teachers who can use the history of Mardi Gras as a learning tool? Will mom’s groups want to gather for a feast?
By offering a product or group of products that represent all the elements of the coveted tradition, you can give your customers a reason to celebrate. Whether it’s a purple, yellow, and green topped donut, a cupcake with a Mardi Gras mask and sprinkles, or the ever-popular king cake, hundreds of bakeries outside of New Orleans offer some sort of Mardi Gras item.
Let the Good Times Roll with a King Cake
The most iconic Mardi Gras menu item is the king cake. The brioche based cake is great for office parties, large crowds, and even family affairs. In fact, New Orleanians all over the country still order their cake directly from their French Quarter bakers.
If your formula or style differ from those of the originals in New Orleans, be sure to communicate this to your customers. Highlight the features of your king cakes on your website, social media, and print material in your store. This will help set your king cakes apart from others and allow your customers to make an informed decision.
How Will You Celebrate Mardi Gras?
While many regions of the country may not celebrate with elaborate parades and parties, the idea of feasting on rich cakes and treats for the day is appealing. If you’ve offered king cakes or other Mardi Gras items in the past with little success, poll your customers. Find out what they do for Fat Tuesday.
Do they celebrate with fried pastries such as paczki, sprugos, or malasada? Does every restaurant in your town whip up a batch of traditional Shrove Tuesday pancakes? Or does the Scandinavian treat, fastelavnsboller make their ears perk?
Depending on your community, you can intermix traditions like the Portuguese did with the Goa Carnival in India. The fusion of traditions and foods during the three-month celebration is something every Goa goer will remember for a lifetime. Save your customers the trip to India by bringing the carnival to your shop. By incorporating the eclectic mix of Fat Tuesday traditions, you can bring people together for a deliciously sweet history celebration.