ST. LOUIS -- Schnuck Markets here added king cakes this year as a companion product to paczki in its pre-Lenten bakery mix.
are standard fare at Mardi Gras celebrations. Traditionally, a small "gift," like a doll or a coin, was baked into the cake. The person who got the gift in his or her slice of cake was considered lucky and was expected to host the next party.
"There's a high-level of recognition of Mardi Gras and its traditions here because there's a section of town that has its own Mardi Gras celebration the two weekends prior to Lent," said Bill Mihu, director of bakery operations for 95-unit Schnuck Markets.
"We felt that offering king cakes in conjunction with paczki would add synergy to both," Mihu added.
Schnuck displayed the king cakes and boxes of paczki together on tables in its bakeries. The products shared space, too, in the chain's ad circular for the week of Feb. 3. The retail: $3.99.
The chain had tried selling king cakes five years ago without much success, Mihu said, but he added that he thought the time was right this year.
"When we tried them before, the Mardi Gras celebration here was just coming of age. It has grown since then, he said.
"And we have a nicer package for the king cakes this time. We put them in a round foil pan with a clear dome," Mihu said. He explained that Schnuck's king cake is ring-shaped with a doll placed in the middle of the ring. A printed card attached to the package describes the king cake tradition, he said.