King Cakes Won't Go Unaffected by COVID Supply Chain Issues
First it was turkey. Then Christmas trees, holiday lights, ham, and cream cheese. Next up: king cakes. Now that Mardi Gras season has officially arrived, the traditional sweet treat may be the next holiday staple to fall victim to COVID-related supply chain issues. Though, the situation may not be so bad—at least for consumers.
Most bakeries and king cake suppliers in New Orleans say they're planning to maintain normal production numbers, so there should be plenty of king cakes to go around for everyone who wants one. So, what's the problem? It may be a little harder for the fine folks behind our favorite cinnamon-sugar indulgence to get the job done.
Huge surges in Omicron cases are making it difficult for bakeries to stay staffed, leading to production hiccups and delays. At Maurice French Pastries in Metairie, Louisiana, owner Jean-Luc Albin told Nola.com that he worked a 15-hour day beginning at 2 a.m. just to stay on top of king cake orders. Four of his six production staffers were out of commission after testing positive for COVID-19. And the trouble doesn't end there. Once an employee tests positive for COVID-19, it can take days to have the rest of the staff tested and return to a normal production schedule.
In addition to staffing issues, the nation's hardworking king cake crews are also facing higher prices for the ingredients needed to make the glazed brioche dessert. John Caluda, who owns Caluda's King Cakes in Harahan, Louisiana, estimates that the cost of ingredients for his cakes has gone up by 30% to 40%, but he's only charging $1-$2 extra per cake. At Hi-Do Bakery in Terrytown, Louisiana, the Do family said shortages have caused their normal vendors to limit the amount of ingredients they can purchase.
"It's been across the board, oil, flour, even yeast," Kim Do told Nola.com. "My parents are particular about the ingredients they use, and it's been hard to find enough of what we usually get."
On the bright side, the great cream cheese shortage of December 2021 seems to have subsided, so finding a cream cheese-filled king cake shouldn't be an issue. So, what does all this mean for your Mardi Gras celebration? Your rip-roaring revelry can go on as planned. You just might want to tip your local king cake purveyor a little extra for going above and beyond to keep the good times—and the king cakes—rolling!
This story originally appeared on southernliving.com