Happy Fat Choking-Hazard Tuesday!

From the Brave New World of Fearing Everything (probably including lawsuits), as sent to us by Judy in Warrington, PA:
Dear Free-Range Kids:

Today at Wegman’s, I was unable to purchase a King’s Cake (Fat Tuesday tradition) with the lucky  baby trinket hidden inside.  It seems it is now a choking hazard, even though the tradition is all ABOUT THE TRINKET– everyone KNOWS it’s hidden inside!  The whole POINT of the cake is that you want the slice with the baby hidden as you will get luck for the year…but I guess only if you live from not choking on the plastic baby.
The nice lady in the bakery told me I can buy the baby trinket at Michael’s craft store and hide it myself . No thanks, I said because at that moment I was completely disgusted at how moronic our culture has become.  — Judy, Who’s Driven to Drink  Hurricanes
Enjoy your Mardi Gras — mwa ha ha!!!

41 Responses to Happy Fat Choking-Hazard Tuesday!

  1. Peter J. Orvetti February 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    When we buy a King Cake — and thanks for the reminder that I need to do that tomorrow! — the baby is usually outside the cake so we can place it wherever we want, or leave it out entirely. It is a legitimate choking hazard, but I can’t imagine anyone would be eating a King Cake without knowing to be wary of it. Anyway, my kids have had King Cake each year since they could chew, and no one has yet to swallow the baby.

  2. Rob C. February 11, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Isn’t the baby traditionally big enough so that you really couldn’t swallow it without knowing it’s in your mouth as you crunch down on it while chewing? I actually had my first piece of King Cake about 5 or 6 years ago, and being the clueless person I am, had no idea there was a plastic baby somewhere in it. As I ate the cake I crunched down on the baby and thought “what the…?” It was small enough so that I managed to cut myself a bite without seeing it, but certainly not small enough to completely evade my chompers while chewing.

    Geez. I think it would only be a real choking hazard for people who swallow their food without chewing it, in which case every bite of everything they ever eat would be a choking hazard.

    In the case of children, tell them the baby is in there and they need to watch for it.

  3. CM February 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Isn’t the baby traditionally a bean? There’s moronic culture, and then there’s usurping tradition. I’m more offended by the prevalence of the plastic babies than I am the loss of them.

    I suppose next you’ll be upset at the loss of trinkets in Epiphany cakes too, even though not EVERYONE knows what they are either, but that’s the whole point of the cake.

    I think I’m going to side with the bakery on this free range issue. It’s not about the kids, it’s about everyone else, and some traditions are just too local (or should stay that way).

  4. CM February 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Of course, Cakewrecks has the ultimate display of what the bakeries could be doing.


    I especially like the “There’s a baby in there” cake box. Maybe that’s a better alternative.

  5. Bill S. February 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    The nerfing of the King Cake tradition was also mentioned today at:


    (Cake Wrecks: “When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong.”)

  6. curiositykt February 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    we had one at work a few weeks ago, and hadn’t found the baby by the time we put it in the kitchen for general consumption, so we had to put a note saying “the baby is still in there, beware!” once it was found the note got to go away.

    mmm king cake.

  7. Amanda Matthews February 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    So I’m guessing with the “dangerous” version, the plastic baby is baked inside the cake? Uh, heated plastic + food is a bad idea. I don’t understand how that part got okayed yet now they are worried about people choking.

  8. steve February 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Isn’t ANYTHING you put in your mouth a choking hazard?

  9. Noah February 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    I’ve never had a king cake where the plastic baby or coin was baked into the cake. Usually it is separate and you kinda shove it up in the cake from the bottom. Still a choking hazard, but one everyone knows about.

  10. CrazyCatLady February 11, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I have to say, the only ones I know that this would be a choking hazard for are my dogs. They seriously don’t chew their food.

    Although story has it my step father “trained” (tortured, by his mother’s account,) his dog as a kid to make it eat slowly. He accomplished that, but it only ate slowly when he was there.

  11. Lori February 11, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    Here in New Orleans the plastic baby is usually outside the cake and you have to put it in from the bottom yourself. They haven’t been inside the cakes for, oh, it seems like 15 or 20 years or so. In my parents’ time instead of a plastic baby it was a china one, or a bean. And I don’t think the hazard is so much choking as it would be biting down and hurting one’s lip or teeth. I don’t mind putting the baby in myself so I can avoid that piece so I don’t have to buy the next king cake!

  12. hineata February 11, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Wow, what a great idea! Have never heard of King Cake. It must be a local tradtion. It sounds a whole lot of fun, though. Those little ‘babies’ are so cute….

    To get around it, you could always put ‘Eskimos’ in the cake instead. They’re a baby-shaped lolly we have down here. Am pretty sure they only ‘live’ in New Zealand at the moment – every so often a Canadian will get upset at the name – but if there’s a sufficient market for it, to replace these so-called choking hazards, I’m sure Pascalls would be interested in supplying to the US market 😉

  13. Taradlion February 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Oy. I didn’t know about king cake, but I know you can’t buy Kinder Eggs in the US…outlawed! Again, the whole point is that there is a little toy inside…I guess they think greedy little children will just go ahead and eat the toy like Agustus Goop (wait…he wasn’t American)…

  14. Hi, I'm Natalie. February 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    And that’s why so many Canadians get in trouble for bringing Kinder Surprises across the US border. Sigh.

  15. Emily February 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    1. When I was a kid, people sometimes hid coins in cakes. Either the coins were cleaned with vinegar or something, or wrapped, or people just didn’t care as much about the evil germs, but however it happened, I don’t remember anyone dying from eating money cake, or swallowing a coin. I probably wouldn’t eat money cake as an adult, though, because I don’t know how many unwashed hands have touched those coins, or how many dirty surfaces they’ve been dropped on in their travels. Still, I don’t remember money cake harming anyone.

    2. In Australia, I saw a certain candy on the market, called “Jelly Babies,” made by Starburst. It’s exactly what it sounds like–little “babies” (freakishly ugly babies, actually), made from fruity, gummy candy, sort of like those fruit snacks that parents put in their kids’ school lunches. Anyway, I’m thinking that that’d be a pretty elegant solution to the Mardi Gras cake tradition–you can still hide the baby in the cake, but since the baby is made of a legitimate food product, nobody’s going to choke on it.

  16. Warren February 12, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    Well that does it. No hidden surprises inside cakes anymore, no candle blowing………………..just how in the world are we supposed to kill off the kids now?

    Maybe we should just jump forward ten years, and just start showing kids a picture of a cake, while they drink a cake flavoured supplement.

  17. hineata February 12, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Come on Warren, surely you realise by now – we kill them off by having them sit inside watching screens and eating Jelly babies, their own individual cupcakes or Eskimos until the Type Two diabetes gets them.

    Alternatively, in what would surely be more fun for them, we ship them off to somewhere isolated like Montana, the Yukon or Pirinoa in the South Wairarapa and wait for the bears, or the local cannibals/survivalists, to eat them. Really, the possibilities are endless.

    Just don’t rely on stranger abduction, LOL!

  18. AG February 12, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    This, and the comments here, make me kind sad. Here we do something similar (also called kings’ cake) in January and there’s always a ceramic figurine inside. You can buy them everywhere, bakeries, supermarket, etc., and there’ll still be a ceramic “bean” inside.

    Yes kids eat it too. When you give them a slice you say “careful, there could be a bean inside!” and make sure they don’t eat without chewing. Also? When you tell kids there could be something inside their cake, their first instinct is usually to crumble the slice all over the plate to check if it’s there or not. If they’re old enough to patiently eat through the slice like everyone else, they’re old enought to be careful by themselves.

  19. Daniel Nicolai February 12, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    She should have asked the baker if Michael’s also has the recipe for the King Cake. If she has to hide it then why bother buying it from a bakery?

  20. Amy O February 12, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I just wanted to comment that the picture and caption at the end of this article made me bust out laughing. Thanks for that!

  21. Heidi Perkins February 12, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    If this upsets you, you should explore the oh so dangerous Kinder Egg. Those were a childhood treat and I was sorely disappointed when I found out it was illegal for my mother to send them to my own children!

  22. Teri February 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    I’d be more afraid of breaking an expensive crown than choking on it. But, I agree – hiding it yourself kinda defeats the purpose. If people are worried about choking, just mash the cake up before eating it.

  23. lollipoplover February 12, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Have there been many reports of baby choking with these cakes that the trinket isn’t even allowed to be sold with it?

    I bet during Mardi Gras there are more people choking on their own vomit from excessive alcohol consumption vs. baby trinkets in a King Cake known to have something hidden inside.

  24. antsy February 12, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    My kids go to a dangerous school – they’re all enjoying their annual classroom king cakes (with plastic baby hidden inside) today!

  25. Havva February 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    When I was in 6th grade the teacher had each student pick a country and introduce us to the December festivities in that country including a traditional food. Many of the countries had some sort of traditional Christmas cake, pudding or other desert with a trinket hidden inside. And it seems my classmates chose to make that wherever the tradition existed.

    None of us had heard of such a thing before. We were all a little scared of the food at first. But we were also ridiculously excited by the sense of danger. The first student to introduce such a cake practiced eating one at home to make sure she could find the bean without choking, and assured us all that it was easy enough to find and we wouldn’t choke. None the less everyone poked very cautiously at their food. Another student used a gummy bear for safety (we almost didn’t find it). Some students flagged the location. By the time the last one was served we were far less worried about anyone choking and the finding of the trinket was greeted with more joy than relief.

  26. Katie February 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    MMM…King Cake…cream cheese filling…crunchy sprinkles….MUST. HAVE. KING. CAKE…

    Cake Wrecks makes fun of it because it’s not pretty, and it is pretty tacky looking. But it isn’t made of cake. It’s brioche or danish dough, with a ton of drippy icing and filling. Think cheese danish meets Honeybun plus colored sugar. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, we probably don’t have much in common!

    And on the choking hazard issue, I agree with most of the commenters that you are supposed to put the baby in yourself. If you bring this year’s cake, you shouldn’t bring next year’s, so remember where you put it! Phooey to not packing a separate baby! (Yes ceramic is nicer than plastic, when it comes to babies, but more practical for home bakers who can wash and reuse it and protect the innocent from cutting up their insides.)

  27. Ravana February 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    CM is right. Traditionally the baby is a bean. You might also hide an orange slice, a coin and/or a candied pecan. Also, traditionally the one who gets the baby hosts next year’s party. But in any case, a big part of the tradition should be making the cake with your child and letting him be in on putting the surprises in it, not buying one at Wegmans. Epicurious has a good recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/King-Cake-356833

  28. JMH February 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    It’s against the law to have inedible things in edible things. It’s the same logic that makes Kinder Surprises illegal in America, even though the rest of the world eats them just fine, and the toy is too big for even an adult to choke on. *sigh* The amount of fines they put on you if you’re caught, just induces me to help my friend in NJ smuggle them across the border.
    Not that we don’t have similar fines on baby walkers, but at least those are developmentally inappropriate if still a little ridiculous.

  29. hineata February 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    You have fines on baby walkers? Please tell me no!

    Those things are great fun, for adults anyway. We often used to put the current baby in the walker and push it back and forth between us…..The baby usually had fun too, LOL!

    The world has moved on ridiculously from the days when servants used to toss swaddling wrapped babies around the kitchen like footballs.

  30. Vanessa February 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Oh good grief. I lived in New Orleans for a few years as a kid, ate king cake more than once, and never choked. If you’re giving a piece to a really small child, you make sure it’s not the one with the baby in it. Older kids know about the baby and will poke through their slice looking for it before they eat. This is literally a CENTURIES-old tradition (brought over in the 1700s by French colonists) so unless people have become incredibly stupid, I don’t see how it’s any more dangerous now than it ever was.

  31. Warren February 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I think I am going to quit the tire business, and become a smuggler.

    I will smuggle Kinder Eggs and King Cakes across from Ontario into New York and Michigan. I’ll make a killing.

    And the US gov’t can choke on it. Sorry, had to be said.LOL

  32. missjanenc February 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Let them eat cake…with a baby in it!!!

  33. missjanenc February 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Didn’t Marie Antoinette say, “Let them eat cake…with a baby in it!!!”

  34. Laura S. February 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Baking a piece of plastic into a cake doesn’t sound like a food idea. Especially considering it probably came from China. Who knows what sort of toxic chemicals would come out when it’s heated to a high temp.
    I’ve been to New Orleanes for Mardi Gras many times and the only time I’ve seen it baked in was when it was a bean, otherwise the plastic baby is put in after it’s been cooked and cooled.

  35. missjanenc February 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Sorry for double post/lack of thumb coordination!

  36. Donna February 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Maya loved Kinder Surprise eggs when she “discovered” them in New Zealand. I think I bought one every time we went to the grocery store after that. No way that a kid could choke on the toy but I’m fine with them not being sold in the US. It was nice to have a special treat for a visit to a foreign country – something that she can’t just buy with her allowance every time we go shopping.

  37. catspaw73 February 12, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    The plastic inner that contains the toy in a kinder surprise makes an excellent cat toy, as it doesn’t roll straight when they bat it, the kids carefully eat the chocolate off and remove the toy to make it cat safe lol.

    Coins in the christmas pud were either well washed in hot soapy water or baked in the oven before being washed. And none of us ever chocked on them. Problems I have with the plastic baby more has to do with plastic being baked in the cake not choking :-)

  38. Dee February 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I see someone posted that in New Orleans we don’t put the baby in the cake anymore. I don’t know where they are buying their king cakes, but I have to disagree. I’ve heard that in the French Quarter they sell them with the babies on the outside so as not to choke unsuspecting tourists. But anywhere else I’ve had them from – Randazzo’s, Haydel’s, Gambino’s, Antoine’s, etc., the baby has been inside. We’re smart enough to know better, even the kids! No one of any age has ever swallowed one.

  39. Lynn Frantz February 14, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    i love you site!!! i am so over the helocopter parents (to include government) and this posting says it all. can’t wait to read more

  40. Susan Keddie February 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    My Canadian mum always put coins in our birthday cake. I have continued the tradition with my two girls, but only once the kids were in the 5-6 year old range. I boil the coins, then wrap them in foil. They go in the cake from the top, but then I put icing on so you can’t tell where they are. Every kid has a little zip lock baggy at their place, with their name on it, to put their coins in as they find them. There are lots of cautions given and the younger kids are so excited they totally mush up the cake digging around for the coin before they even eat it.


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