It’s that time of year between New Year's and Easter when many on the Gulf Coast celebrate an age-old tradition called Mardi Gras.

The Mardi Gras celebration coincides with the Catholic church calendar between the Day of Epiphany and Fat Tuesday, or the pre-Lent season before many observers will fast from various earthly indulgences, such as sweet treats.

The king cake is a popular feast item on the Gulf Coast, said to have come from French-occupied Louisiana in the 18th century. The cake is a circular-shaped pastry, much like a cinnamon roll, topped with icing and colorful sugar. The sugar is often in the colors of gold, green and purple representing the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by the three kings to baby Jesus.

Often hidden within the cake is a trinket or plastic baby to represent baby Jesus, good luck and prosperity. The person who finds the trinket in their slice of cake is often given the responsibility to buy the next year’s king cake.

Today the Mardi Gras celebration, along with the decadent king cake, has traversed along the Gulf Coast to the Emerald Coast and beyond.

Here are a few places in Northwest Florida where king cakes can be found:

 

SmallCakes

At SmallCakes, you can order a traditional king cake to share, or if you are feeling self-indulgent, you can try the king cake cupcake.

SmallCakes Cupcakery and Creamery has two locations in the area, one in Destin at 36150 Emerald Cost Pkwy. Suite 110 and one in Shalimar at 60 2nd Street.

 

Black Bear Bread Co.

This local bakery in Grayton Beach will offer king cakes starting this week. There are even different flavors and sizes to choose from. Check their Facebook site for more information by searching Black Bear Bread Co.

Black Bear Bread Co. is at 26 Logan Lane Unit G in Grayton Beach. Call 850-213-4528 or visit www.blackbearbreadco.com.

 

Publix bakeries

Publix bakeries across the tri-county area have king cakes in stock now and will continue to get new shipments of the specialty cake through Mardi Gras. The cakes sell for $10.99.

Publix bakeries in the Fort Walton Beach are at 251 Miracle Strip Pkwy. S.E., 610 Eglin Pkwy. N.E. and 421 Mary Esther Cut-Off NW.

Publix bakeries in the Destin/South Walton area are at 4425 Commons Dr. E, Destin, 725 Grand Blvd. Sandestin and 110 Watercolor Way, Santa Rosa Beach.

 

Winn-Dixie

Another local supermarket chain makes sure you get your king cake before it’s too late. The yummy treat goes for $4.99 at Winn-Dixie at various locations.