King Cake Stories
For five more days, you can enjoy a delectable piece of king cake and have the pleasure of reading an engaging creative story about the origins of this beloved Carnival tradition. The Made in New Orleans Foundation (MiNO) — in partnership with Gracious Bakery and 826 New Orleans — are featuring creative writings from students on king cake boxes at all Gracious Bakery locations.
826 New Orleans is a youth writing nonprofit that works with young people, ages 6-18, to help them strengthen their writing skills. The organization then publishes the work of these young writers. The organizations programs are free to youth and their families. Since its beginning, 826 has worked with more than 4,000 young people and published more than 150 books of youth writing.
“Since our founding in a first-grade class of 43 students in 2010, 826 New Orleans (formerly Big Class) has celebrated a transformative impact on thousands of students’ lives,” says Kyley Pulphus, 826’s program director. “Students, parents and teachers overwhelmingly report improved writing skills and academic performance as a result of our programs, and we’ve seen countless students shift their attitudes about writing from reluctance and intimidation to affinity, confidence and pride. Whether students are enrolled in a two-hour workshop or a semester-long, in-school project, all of our programs end in publication.”
Gracious Bakery has graciously donated king cakes the last two years to 826 New Orleans writing center for students to taste and be inspired to write as they create origin stories of the Carnival delicacy. Megan and Jay Forman, owners of the bakery, love that their king cakes can provide a source of fun, inspiration and joy.
“We started our bakery to provide joy and to be able to create this kind of joy is very special,” says Megan Forman. “The stories that we attach to the king cakes are so unique. They really convey that sense of wonder and freedom these kids experience there.”
The project has already raised $1,000 through king cake sales and engaged students within the community.
“What it means to be in this story, is that I can be a part of the community in a unique and personal way,” says Tea Bowman, an eighth-grade participant.
Kathleen Whalen, a youth development expert and former 826 board member, believes that whenever youth have the opportunity to express themselves through writing, to have their thoughts published and shared with peers and adults alike, it is a powerful, joyful and affirming experience.
“It is particularly meaningful during this time of uncertainty and isolation,” she says. “The staff at 826 New Orleans never lost their commitment during this turbulent year and continued to find innovative ways to allow youth to find their voice, decrease their loneliness and share in the pleasure of writing.”
826 welcomes the partnership with MiNO and Gracious Bakery as it benefits both the young writers and those eating the yummy king cakes.
“Our young writers have so enjoyed creating stories around the origin of the king cake, and seeing people loving their writing has been both motivating and affirming,” says Forman. “Their stories are creative, hilarious and bringing all the joy.”
826 New Orleans Mission
826 New Orleans cultivates and supports the voices of young writers ages 6-18 through creative collaborations with schools and communities.
Address: 1750 St. Bernard Ave.
Phone: (504) 684-5595
Example: “How The King Cake Was Made,” by Kennedi Sanders – fifth grade
“One day there were two men who were looking for some land to mine gold. One of the men, Michael, fell through a soft, sticky and sweet hill. Then he got a shrinking gun and aimed it at the soft, sticky, and sweet hill. The other guy went home for the day, but Michael stayed at that exact spot for hours and hours until he found a doll. He thought it was haunted. He shrunk the doll and stuffed it into the hill. It started raining purple, green, and gold sprinkles. Then Michael’s friend named George came and checked on him. He was surprised at what he created. Michael who created the masterpiece called the masterpiece ‘king cake.’ Finally, he created more and more for everyone. So, this became a big event that everyone celebrated.
How Businesses Can Help
Businesses can sponsor publishing projects or events. Interested businesses can contact Executive Director Brooke Pickett (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How Can Readers Help
Readers can support 826 in a number of ways, including provide volunteers for programs and purchasing books of youth writing from the organization’s website. They can also follow them and share their posts on social media — @826neworleans — and of course buy an 826 king cake from Gracious Bakery.