Since 1982, Huong Tran’s bakery, Dong Phuong, had developed a reputation for making the best brioche and mooncakes in their New Orleans neighborhood. Then in 2008, after customers began to ask about king cakes, Tran and her daughter, Linh Tran Garza, developed a recipe for the traditional Mardi Gras pastry, and figured 100 boxes would be more than enough. Today, thanks to partnerships, social media, and awards, crews of bakers finish about 1,600 king cakes a day between Dec. 31 and Lundi Gras, and ship boxes as far as Canada and Hawaii. Sold each year between Epiphany (Jan. 6) and Mardi Gras, the flat, round cake -- with cream cheese icing and sprinkles - tastes like a frosted croissant. In 2015, Dong Phuong began selling the cakes from many wholesale locations across New Orleans, and after the James Beard Awards gave the bakery one of its America’s Classics awards in 2018, the cakes went from cult favorite to viral.

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