King cakes, cash and vodka: A Mardi Gras heist in New Orleans

King cakes, cash and vodka: A Mardi Gras heist in New Orleans

A New Orleans bakery was robbed of seven king cakes, a case of vodka and some cash last week by a thief who seemed to have a taste for the traditional Mardi Gras treat.

What are king cakes?

King cakes are ring-shaped pastries that are decorated with purple, green and gold sugar or icing, representing the colors of Mardi Gras. They often have a tiny plastic baby hidden inside, which symbolizes the baby Jesus. The person who finds the baby in their slice is supposed to host the next party or buy the next cake.

King cakes are usually eaten during the Carnival season, which starts on January 6, the 12th day after Christmas, and ends on Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is the final day of feasting, drinking and revelry before the fasting and penance of Lent.

How did the theft happen?

The theft occurred at Bittersweet Confections, a bakery and chocolate shop in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. According to the New Orleans Police Department, the thief broke into the bakery last Wednesday, January 24, around 2 a.m. He took seven king cakes, which were worth about $35 each, a case of vodka, and an undisclosed amount of cash from the register. He also damaged the front door and a display case.

King cakes, cash and vodka: A Mardi Gras heist in New Orleans

The bakery posted a surveillance video of the incident on its social media accounts, showing the thief wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a mask, carrying a large bag and a backpack. He seemed to struggle with the weight of the king cakes, which he stuffed into his bag.

“Our king cakes are just that good,” the bakery wrote on its Facebook page. “But please come and purchase one during our regular store hours.”

What was the reaction?

The bakery’s post attracted hundreds of comments, reactions and shares from customers and supporters, who expressed sympathy, outrage and humor over the theft. Some offered to buy more king cakes from the bakery to make up for the loss, while others joked about the thief’s motives and whereabouts.

One commenter pretended to be the thief and wrote: “It was me. … I’m holding all 7 babies hostage until I get a lifetime supply of King Cakes from you every year.”

Another commenter suggested that the thief might have been planning a Mardi Gras party and wrote: “He was just trying to get ready for the big day. He needed some king cakes, some vodka and some cash to tip the band.”

The bakery thanked its customers for their support and said it was working with the police to catch the culprit. It also said it had increased its security measures and installed a new door.

Why is this news important?

The theft of the king cakes is not only a crime, but also a cultural offense in New Orleans, where the pastry is a cherished symbol of the Mardi Gras spirit. The bakery’s owner, Cheryl Scripter, said she was saddened by the incident, especially because it happened during a difficult time for the city and the industry, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on gatherings and events.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” she said. “We’re trying to keep our doors open and keep our employees working, and then something like this happens.”

She said she hoped the thief would be caught and face justice, but also wished him well.

“Maybe he needed the king cakes more than we did,” she said. “I hope he enjoyed them.”

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