Now They’ve Done It: Frisch’s Has Changed Their Tartar Sauce

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We’re just about halfway through Lent now, in a city that puts great pride in it’s Lenten Fish Frys  – and yes that’s the correct way to spell the plural of a Fry – pluralize the noun, don’t conjugate the verb!   Bilboards and Social Media advertise every Fish Fry and Lenten menu of local restaurants.     I’ve been to four myself already – Germania, Kolping, Mary Queen of Heaven, and Old St. Mary’s OTR – and all have been wonderful.    In addition to the fish, Cincinnati goes through tubs and tubs of tartar sauce during peak Lenten Fish Fry Season.

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In 2017 I was honored to be consulted by the Catholic Telegraph for an article about National Tartar Sauce Day, March 3, a celebration that falls conveniently near Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.   It was cooked up by none other than the new owners of Frisch’s Big Boy.      A proclamation by Mayor John Cranley on March 3, 2017, made the holiday an official one in Cincinnati.

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The go-to tartar sauce has always been Frisch’s delicious version.    And the true judge of a Cincinnati Fish Fry is it’s tartar sauce.   Many people carry-in their own jar of Frish’s just in case.    It was not originally made for fish, but for the double decker hamburger – to replace the Thousand Island dressing that California hamburgers of the post war period – McDonald’s and David Wian’s Big Boy – used.   But when David Frisch brought the Big Boy to Cincinnati, he dressed it with tartar sauce instead, like Tucker’s, Green Derby, and other burger joints in Greater Cincinnati were doing.

My friend and food stylist, Mary Seguin, offers sage advice when making tartar sauce.  She made the tartar sauce and ran the St. Clair Fish Fry for many years.    According to Mary, a good tartar sauce MUST start with real mayonnaise, not the fat free, cloyingly sweet kind.   It should also have a variety of good herbs, and acid to balance the sweetness.    She added olives and finely chopped red onion to hers.     But alas, she still hasn’t divulged to me the secret recipe to Seguin’s St. Clair Tartar Sauce.

David Frisch painstakingly mixed the tartar sauce for the Big Boys himself in the early post war days.   But Louis Schulman, whose family made Lady Rose Tartar Sauce for Tucker’s double decker, introduced his product to Frisch and the rest is history – until 2019.     Schulman’s is now the Reading-based Food Specialties.  This year Frisch’s introduced their new Spicy Tartar Sauce in time for Lent to a city that likes to hold tightly to its food traditions.     But new taste buds require new, spicier flavors.    It’s the original recipe with the addition of cayenne pepper.

The food bloggers have already posted recipes using this new tartar sauce.    There are recipes for spicy tartar sauce deviled eggs, spicy Big Boy pizza, and ginger-soy salmon with Frish’s spicy tartar.

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You can dip your Frisch’s crinkle cut fries in spicy tartar sauce while cheering on the Reds this year.

Not only is the new spicy tartar sauce available at the restaurants, on the fish sandwich and the Big Boy, but also at Great American Ball Park.     I’m totally on board with the new spicy tartar sauce, and even think they should go further with Sriracha Tartar next year.    I even think they should brand the new Big Boy with spicy tartar sauce the “Gran Chico.”    Muey delicioso!

Before Cookies and Cream There Was Cincinnati Delight

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Michael Buschbacker behind the counter at Ma’s Ice Cream Parlor in 1929 in Over-the-Rhine, showing a case full of cigars, pipe tobacco, and cigarettes, as well as ice cream pots.

It’s that time of year when all the great ice cream stands start opening.   One of my faves, Putz Creamy Whip, in Northside opened today.   They’re the only creamy whip in Greater Cincinnati that uses horizontal cream whip machines from the 1950s.  And they claim it makes their creamy whip even creamier.

So it’s fun to remember ice cream flavors that are uniquely Cincinnati.   One flavor, called Cincinnati Delight, was made locally from the 1930s to 1966 by an Over-the-Rhine landmark called Ma’s Homemade Ice Cream.   It was the grandfather of the flavor we now call cookies and cream, but was made with bits of the chocolate cake part of an ice cream sandwich.   It could have been called Cakes and Cream, but its inventor, Michael Buschbacker decided to give tribute to his beloved city.   It could have also been called Over-the-Rhine Delight, but that doesn’t have as much a ring.   And, we weren’t hip enough back then to distill every neighborhood into a three letter anacronym like OTR.

Michael was the son of Ma – Anna Graf Buschbacker – who opened her ice cream parlor at 69 East McMicken at Grant Park, around the corner from today’s Moerlein Taproom.     Cincinnati Delight was made in the basement of the store, where their ice cream machine lived, and was their best seller.    They couldn’t make it fast enough.

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The Over-the-Rhine wedding photo of Ma (Anna Graf) and Stefan Buschbacker, German-Hungarian immigrants to Cincinnati who arrived in 1907.

Ma took on the place from what had been a candy store, and operated it as such for a few weeks.    Then an enterprising salesman came by and said her candy store would make a great place for an ice cream parlor, being right next to a playground.  And, he had just the ice cream machine to make that happen.    She consulted her husband, Stefan, a Hungarian-German immigrant, they bought the machine, and the rest is history.

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In addition to Cincinnati Delight, Ma’s made the standards – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and then more interesting flavors like banana, pineapple, orange-pineapple, butter-pecan, peppermint, and Tutti-Frutti (a flavor introduced to Cincinnati in 1888 by Vienna Ice Cream Company, owned by Italian immigrant Giuseppi del Favero).    They made another flavor they called White House, which was vanilla ice cream with cherries – the precursor to cherry cordial ,which adds chocolate chunks to the mix.

About the 1950s, they added a creamy whip machine, and until they closed in 1966, they were the only soft serve ice cream in Over-the-Rhine.

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In addition to making ice cream, Ma also cooked a full menu for the small luncheonette in the parlor.   She made homemade soups, chili, beef barbeque, baked ham and roast beef.   She also served hearty breakfasts starting at 8 AM of ham and eggs with sweet rolls and coffee.  So when she or her son weren’t making ice cream or tending customers, she was constantly cooking.

Like the Tucker family of Tucker’s Restaurant in Over-the-Rhine, Ma was like a second mother to the many kids who came in without money, and still got a free small cone.   She sponsored a football team in the 1930s and 1940s that played in the amateur Cincinnati league and was coached by her son Andy, and practiced at Inwood Park.

 

Black Radish: The Old World German Variety from Thuringia Making a Combeback

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This past weekend the Dayton Liederkranz Turner Society hosted an amazing traditional German brunch at their basement beerstube.   It reminded me of the type I had experienced while traveling in both northern and southern Germany in the last several years.   There were fantastic little sandwhich buns called brotchen, and other yummy multigrain breads, plates of freshly made lunch meats, pates, cheeses, butters, jams, and preserves, four types of homemade sauerkraut, goulash, spaetzli, and many other delicious items.   On one of the meat trays was a very thinly sliced radish that was not the standard red radish we see year round at the grocery.  It was larger, more crisp than a red redish, and had a nice pepper taste, with a slightly bitter note.  To me, it had a texture just a bit more dense than say jicama, whose crunchiness I love in salads and sandwiches.    When I asked Jacob, the host of the brunch, what kind of radish it was, he said it is an old world varietal of Black Radish, that’s making a comeback.   These radishes were found at Jungle Jim’s Market in Fairfield for those curious foodies like me.

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The black radish, also called the Erfuhrter Radish (from the agricultural region of Erfuhrt in southern, Thuringia, Germany) has long been a staple of European cuisine, as far back as Medieval times.   The Tudors of England loved black radishes.  It gave way in the last half of the 20th century to the easier to peel, grow, and ship sweet spring radish and was virtually forgotten.  It has a thick black skin, with a strong white flesh ,and is known as a winter radish, as it’s sown from September to December.   It grows larger than the typical red radish, about 3-4 inches in diameter.   It was great for the poorer classes because it kept well for several months in a root cellar during the winter.

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It was also known for its folk medicinal properties- increasing bile for digestion, which also helps to detoxify the liver, and as an immune booster and anti-aging supplement (we could all use a little bit of that!)   This all made it great for the fatty diets and high alcohol consumption of historic Middle Europeans.  Recently the black radish has been studied because of high glucosinates, for prevention of gall stones.   It can also help with intestinal gas, stomach bloating, and even acid reflux.   It’s low in calories, high in fiber, Vitamin C and B’s, potassium, and sulfur, so it packs a healthy punch.

It can be sliced thin and eaten on a sandwich or salad, as it was served at the Liederkranz Brunch.   Or, it can be sautéed and eaten like potatoes or any other root vegetable..   It can be sliced in thin sticks and added for its unique peppery flavor to a slaw or salad.    And, finally, it can be thin sliced on a mandolin, seasoned and made into crunchy chips – either fried or baked. I am going to douse some thin sliced ones in good olive oil, season with Grippo’s BBQ seasoning and make my own chips.  Look out Hen of the Woods, there’s a new healthier chip coming on the market soon!

Paris:1900 At the Cincinnati Art Museum and Eggs Sardou

 

The bust of playwright Victorien Sardou at the Cincinnati Art Museum and the New Orleans brunch dish, Eggs Sardou named after him.

We are very lucky to have such a great Art Museum in Cincinnati.    A wonderful new exhibit, “Paris:1900”, just opened two weeks ago and is filled with art and souvenirs from the 1900 exhibition held in Paris.    One of those artworks on display is a bust of the popular playwright, Victorien Sardou.   The work was completed by an unlikely sculptor, the popular actress of stage and silent screen, Sarah Bernhardt.    That’s right, the actress was an amazing and mildly prolific sculptress as well.     Sardou wrote many of Bernhardt’s leading roles, like La Tosca, which became famous when Giacoma Puccuini later turned it into his famous opera.    This bust was a tribute to the man that fueled her talent.

 

The actress Sarah Bernhardt in her sculptress’ frock and a portrait in her prime.

Many of Sardou’s plays were staged in New Orleans, a city whose elite theatre going class still spoke fluent French.    Bernhardt was the star of many of these plays in New Orleans when she toured the U.S. in the early 1900s.     She starred in Sardou plays like L’Aiglon and La Sorciere at the Old French Opera House.   And, the owner of legacy New Orleans Restaurant,  Antoine Alcatore named an egg dish in honor of the playwright.    The dish is made of poached eggs served on artichoke bottoms (great for the Paleos and low-carbers of today)   and crossed in anchovy fillets.     The eggs are then doused in rich hollandaise sauce, along with a garnish of shaved black truffles and finely chopped ham.   Some recipes call for creamed spinach between the artichoke and the eggs – a yummy idea, but not part of the original dish.    In the city that invented brunch (by German-New Orleanian restauranteur Madame Begue) it’s no surprise there are many egg dishes – others include Eggs Hussarde, invented at Brennan’s.    Alcatore would also name the famous American dish, Lobsters Thermidor, after another Sardou play entitled, Thermidor (1891), named after a month in the French Republican Calendar during which the Reign of Terror ended.     It is an oven-browned creamy, cheesy mixture of lobster meat , egg yolks and  sherry or brandy.

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The playwright Victorien Sardou.

There are two stories of the creation of the dish.   The earlier one is that it was created in the early 1870s when Sardou indeed visited New Orleans and was a guest at the restaurant on a ‘research tour’ to investigate the stereotyped “American Uncle”, the archetype of the rich, brash, unsophisticated American Robber Baron, whose social climbing the French liked to lampoon.    This concept would become the basis for Sardou’s play, L’Onkel Sam (1873) .

Another famed French artist, Edgar Degas, also visited New Orleans in the early 1870s to visit maternal family, and painted A Cotton Office in New Orleans, of his Musson family’s business.  The painting also lampoons the concept of the American Uncle.

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Edgar Degas’s An American Cotton Office, painted in New Orleans.

But the story that is probably the more accurate is that it was created in 1908, the year Sardou died, when his ingenue, Sarah Bernhardt performed his plays in New Orleans.   An excerpt from a 1940 Souvenir of Restaurant Antoine says:

“The Divine Sarah Bernhardt played her repertoire at the Old French Opera House in New Orleans, in the early years of the present century.   As a tribute from one supreme artist to another, it was the custom of Jules Alcatore to prepare a small tureen of delicious soup each night, during her engagement, at such a time that he could with his own hands bring it to her in her dressing room just after the second act of whatever drama was on the night’s bill.   On the closing night, the great actress kissed him enthusiastically and declared: ‘If my New Orleans engagement has been a success, my dear Jules, it is because you have provided me with the strength to make it so.'”

Sardou is known as a master of clever and easy flowing dialogue.   He subscribed the three old kinds of comedy- the comedy of character, of manners, and of intrigue – weaving it into the drame bourgeois, the drama of the common man.    In his time he wrote over 70 plays  Today his works would probably be considered cliché melodramas, but he dominated the French stage in the late 19th century.

Thankfully, we have a restaurant that has been in the same family for over 170 years that continues to serve Eggs Sardou (as do many other New Orleans Creole restaurants like Galatoire’s) so that we don’t forget a famous French playwright.

Maybe the Art Museum Café will take this opportunity to serve up some culinary history and add Eggs Sardou to their menu during the Paris:1900 exhibit.

Yamasa: The Soy Sauce Lafcadio Hearn Made Famous

 

Lafcadio Hearn wearing a Japanese yukata after he became Koizumi Yakumo and a vintage Yamasa Soy bucket.

There is no other 19th century journalist that had more influence than Lafcadio Hearn in food, folklore, and news of the weird.    As local ‘saloonist’ and Best Bartender U.S. 2019, Molly Wellmann says, “He’s the original punk rocker.”  Born in Lafkada, Greece, he was raised by a great aunt in England, and then shipped off to distant relatives in Cincinnati, who gave him a few bucks and said, “Good luck.”   He lived on the streets but was taken in by a printer in Bold Hill named Henry Watkin.   The cool thing is that Henry Watkin and my third great uncle Friedrich Sudmeier, were in the group that started the farm suburb of Bond Hill.   So, my paternal grandfather’s family knew Lafcadio in Cincinnati, where he got his journalistic career started as a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Henry Watkin was married to Laura Fry, the daughter to famous woodcarver Henry Fry.  She was associated with many Cincinnati artists, like Henry Farney, with whom Lafcadio published a limited series of political satire magazines called Ye Giglampz.  Thanks to Lafcadio we have some of the only documentation of the early African-American community in Bucktown in Cincinnati.

This year is the celebration of Lafcadio’s 150th anniversary of arrival in Cincinnati.   One of the many special events occurred last Tuesday at the Mercantile Library when Dr. Junko Umemoto from Japan, a Lafcadio expert, came to speak about his most famous Japanese short story, “A Living God.”      One of the coolest announcements at the event is that local sculptor, Tom Tsuchiya, who created statues D’Artagnan at XU, sliding Pete Rose at Great American Ballpark, and Hug Me Jesus (the replacement to Touchdown Jesus) at Solid Rock Church, has been commissioned by the Cincinnati Japan America Society to create a statue of Lafcadio!

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Dr. Umemoto giving a riveting lecture about Lafcadio’s “A Living God” story at the Mercantile, March 5, 2019.

Hating cold weather, and after being fired from the Enquirer for marrying a mulatto woman, Lafcadio moved to New Orleans.  Here he had a restaurant for a short time and wrote the groundbreaking Creole Cookbook, the first documentation of Creole cooking.   I found the book at an obscure bookstore in the French Quarter two years ago and made his Green Tomato Catsup.    Lafcadio is still beloved in New Orleans and has a Mardi Gras Krewe of Lafcadio, which names a local chef as their King every year.  This year it was Chef Slade Rushing of Brennan’s where bananas foster and eggs hussarde were invented in the 1950s.

After two years in the French West Indies, Lafcadio moved to Japan to be a reporter for Harper’s Weekly and quickly began writing stories of Japanese folklore.   He quickly met and married a woman Koizumi Setsuo, who was a local storyteller and daughter of a samurai family, with whom he had four children.   Lafcadio would take several teaching jobs in several cities in Japan, finally settling in Tokyo.

Lafcadio became most famous in Japan for his short story “A Living God,” which was included in his book “Gleanings in Buddha Fields,” published in 1897.    It would be one of fifteen books on Japanese folklore that he would write.   This story became part of all gradeschool textbooks in Japan up until World War II and all schoolchildren knew of it.   It was so popular the hero of the story was integrated into Japanese manga comic books.

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When Hearn arrived in Japan in 1896, he was shocked and inspired by the huge tsunami of 1896 that killed 20,000 people.   He used a true story of a hero from the 1854 tsunami in Hirokawa to create a story that would become a national treasure.     The local hero was Goryo Hamaguchi (1825-1885).   Hamaguchi was a local farmer and saw the way the tide was going out to sea after a tremor and knew a tsunami was coming.     So, to warn the people and evacuate them to high ground, he burned his own rice stalks.    The townspeople saw the fire and rushed to the hill farm of Hamaguchi to put out the fire and were all saved from being swept away in the tsunami below.

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Goryo Hamaguchi, the hero of Lafcadio’s, “A Living God.”

Hamaguchi became the heir and 7th executive director of the Yamasa Soy Sauce Company, the oldest soy sauce company in the world, founded in Hirokawa Japan in 1645 by Gihei Hamaguchi.    Goryo used his soy sauce money to build a tsunami levy that would save more people in a future 1946 tsunami in the area.   Hamaguchi also was very forward thinking and was one of the earliest proponents to opening trade with the outside world after Commodore Perry’s first fleet arrived.   He also built a hospital which backed smallpox vaccinations and treated cholera patients.   Today there is a Shinto shrine to him at the levee he built, a memorial statue at a local high school, and of course his famous soy sauce, that can be found at CAM Asian market in Springdale in large quantities.

Yamasa Soy sauce today is preferred by the majority of high end Japanese restaurants, sushi and kabayaki-eel restaurants.    Yamasa is still brewed as it was in 1645, with the Yamasa aspergillus strain of Koji mold, perfected over hundreds of years since the Edo period.      The factory is now in Choshi, where a cool sea current meets a warm sea current, producing a humid climate of cold summers and warm winters, perfect for brewing quality soy sauce.     It’s known for its translucent and brilliant red color, its delicate fragrant aroma, and its deep umami flavor.

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Lafcadio, meanwhile became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1986, taking the name Koisumi Yakumo.  He was not just some ‘gaijin’ foreigner who came in to write about Japanese culture for Western audiences.   His stories are beloved by the Japanese, many of whom come to Cincinnati regularly to see the sites of his early life.    He died in 1904 and is buried at Zishigaya Cemetery in Toshima, Tokyo.    His great grandson, Bon Koizumi, who has visited Cincinnati,  is a professor of folklore at Matsuae, and also runs the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, which has some of his artifacts, including a desk, suitcase, and the collection of nearly 1000 books he brought with him to Japan.

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Lafcadio’s Great Grandson, Bon Koizumi, at the Hearn Memorial Garden.

For more about Yamasa Soy sauce go to https://www.yamasausa.com/

 

 

Frozen Charlotte: The Creepy Doll that Became the King Cake Baby

 

 

The summer I first moved into my 1923 bungalow, I was digging my backyard garden.   A few trowels in I hit something hard that turned out to be a small bisque doll about the size of the first knuckle of my pinky finger.    The arms and legs, which were connected through the body with wires, were long gone.   I had met the old woman, Bernice, who had grown up in the house with her older sister in the 1920s and was sure this was from her childhood.   I would later find out this doll was known as a “Frozen Charlie”, the companion to another doll “Frozen Charlotte”, and both were part of a creep Civil War era cautionary story.    They would morph into what is now the King Cake Baby, the prize in Mardi Gras king cakes eaten from the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 until Fat Tuesday in early March.   The finder of the baby , if they don’t choke to death first, has to buy the next king cake.   Even though the American king cake is most commonly eaten in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Yankees like us can find them in Cincinnati at bakeries like Servattis and Busken.   The king cake is a yeasted, cinnamony, braided-ring coffee cake, dusted in icing and sugar in the three colors of Mardi Gras – purple, green and gold.

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The creepy Frozen Charlie I unearthed in my backyard garden.

Nowadays New Orleans bakers tell the story that the little plastic baby to be found represents the baby Jesus, because king cakes appear on the Feast of the Three Kings, also known as Epiphany and 12th Night in England.   This is the day when the Magi came to visit the baby Jesus at the Nativity.   Well, that’s a lovely story, but that’s not the origin story of the little baby in the American king cake.

The tradition of putting a bean or charm in a 12th night cake, which, unlike, a King Cake, is a dense fruitcake, goes back to 1700s England.   But the charm was never meant to represent the baby Jesus.   The little bean meant the finder was entitled to special privileges or rewards for the day.  In France, the little charms are called ‘feves’, which translates to fava bean, the original prize that was baked into the French version of the king cake.   The foil wrapped bean or a pecan, evolved into more elaborate charms of small bisque porcelain figures of famous saints, celebrities, and tools.   Feves in France are highly collectable and the collectors call themselves favophiles.

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French king cake feves.

Carnival historians say that the something-in-a-king-cake tradition started in New Orleans with a golden bean baked into a cake by the Twelfth Night Revelers on January 6, 1870.  The king cake was served to young women and the one who got the bean was crowned queen.   Many Krewes still do this, but the piece with the baby is usually planted for the already picked queen.

Today, in New Orleans, Haydel’s Bakery each year release collectors feves that represent the culture of New Orleans.   As a Haydel favophile myself, I have four – a flamebeau, a calas vendor, a beignet waiter, and a Lucky Dog vendor.   They are the work of St. Bernard parish artist Alberta Meitin-Graf.   Her first release for Haydel’s in 1990 was a Frozen Charlotte doll, a tribute to the original New Orleans baby.     Haydel’s signature bakery is on Magazine Street in the Garden District, and was being renovated after filming a reality show this past fall when I was there.

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My Haydel’s Bakery king cake collectors charms.

So, getting back to Victorian America.   In 1843 a Maine journalist named Seba Smith penned a poem entitled “A Corpse Going to a Ball” for the Rover newspaper.  It was about a girl named Charlotte who, ignoring her mother’s warning to wear a coat, froze to death in her sleigh on the way to a ball with her beau Charlie.   It was inspired by a true story published in 1840 of a girl freezing to death on the way to a ball.     The story was popularized before 1860 by a ballad sung by traveling folk singer William Lorenzo Carter.     Tons of small porcelain dolls were being made in Germany from 1850 to about 1920.    They were meant to be bath toys, as they floated, and were cheap enough at a penny for nearly every child to have.    In America and Canada they became associated with Seba Smith’s creepy poem, and became known as Frozen Charlottes.    Sometimes they even came in a little casket.   This cautionary tale to listen to your parents was not limited to girls.  That was the purpose of the Frozen Charlie doll – to send the same message to boys.    In Victorian times in America, they were planted into birthday and celebration cakes as a reward, but a reminder of the precariousness of death and consequences of  parental disobedience.

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In 1930s New Orleans, McKenzie’s Bakery owner Donald Entringer ran achain of bakeries that sold king cakes to locals.    He had been looking for a special charm other than a bean or a pecan to put in his king cakes.   One day a traveling salesman visited the bakery with a huge lot of porcelain Frozen Charlotte dolls he hoped to sell.   Entringer bought the lot of dolls to hide in his king cakes and a new tradition was born.   He would later find cheaper plastic babies from a local supply store and that was the litte feve that stuck.   Other bakers soon followed and everyone in New Orleans was choking up plastic babies from Epiphany to Fat Tuesday.   When interviewed in 1990 Entrniger would say,”We were the first to use babies (in king cakes).  I’ve heard people say its supposed to represent the Christ Child, but that’s not true.   Why we picked this, I don’t know, it was cute.   It was a trinket that happened to be a baby.”  McKenzie’s, founded in 1929, closed its doors in 2000 due to declining sales against the big box competitors.

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So while the Baby Jesus is a cute and sweet story, the original baby in the New Orleans king cake has a much darker origin.

Here is the original text of the 1843 poem “A Corpse Going to a Ball”:
Young Charlotte lived by the mountain side,
A wild and lonely spot;
No dwelling there, for three miles round,
Except her father’s cot;
And yet on many a winter’s eve
Young swains were gather’d there,
For her father kept a social board,
And she was very fair.
Her father loved to see her dress’d
As prim as a city belle,
For she was all the child he had,
And he loved his daughter well.
‘Tis New Year’s eve—the sun is down—
Why looks her restless eye
So long from the frosty window forth,
As the merry sleighs go by?
At the village inn, fifteen miles off,
Is a merry ball to-night—
The piercing air is cold as death,
But her heart is warm and light;
And brightly beams her laughing eye,
As a well-known voice she hears;
And dashing up to the cottage door
Her Charley’s sleigh appears.
“Now daughter dear,” her mother cried,
“This blanket round you fold,
“For ’tis a dreadful night abroad,
“You’ll catch your death a-cold.”
“O nay, O nay,” fair Charlotte said,
And she laugh’d like a gipsy queen,
“To ride with blankets muffled up
“I never could be seen—
“My silken cloak is quite enough;
“You know ’tis lined throughout;
“And then I have a silken shawl
“To tie my neck about.”
Her bonnet and her gloves are on,
She jumps into the sleigh;
And swift they ride by the mountain side,
And over the hills away.
There’s life in the sound of the merry bells,
As over the hills they go;
But a creaking wail the runners make,
As they bite the frozen snow.
How long the bleak and lonely way!
How keen the wind does blow!
The stars did never shine so cold—
How creaks the frozen snow!
With muffled faces, silently,
Five cold, long miles they’ve pass’d,
And Charles, with these few frozen words,
The silence broke at last—
“Such night as this I never saw—
“The reins I scarce can hold;”
And Charlotte, shivering, faintly said,
“I am exceeding cold.”
He crack’d his whip, and urged his steed
More swiftly than before,
And now five other dreary miles
In silence are pass’d o’er—
“How fast,” said Charles the freezing ice
“Is gathering on my brow;”
But Charlotte said, with feebler lone.
“I’m growing warmer now.”
And on they went through the frosty air
And the glittering, cold star-light;
And now at last the village inn
And the ball-room are in sight.
They reach the door, and Charles jumps out,
And holds his hand to her—
Why sits she like a monument,
That hath no power to stir
He call’d her once—he call’d her twice—
She answer’d not a word;
He ask’d her for her hand again,
But still she never stirr’d—
He took her hand in his—O God!
‘Twas cold and hard as stone;
He tore the mantle from her face;
The cold stars on her shone—
Then quickly to the lighted hall
Her voiceless form he bore—
His Charlotte was a stiffen’d corpse,
And word spake never more