Originally, a small coin, bean or pea was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item in their piece of cake received special honors. In some cases, if a man received the coin, he became king of that year's festivities. If it was a woman, she became the queen.
A Catholic baker name Donald Entringer, Sr. is credited with popularizing the custom of substituting a tiny figurine of "baby Jesus" (because of the association with the feast of the Magi) for the coin. Entringer, president of McKenzie's Pastry Shoppes in New Orleans, died in 2012 at the age of 97.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw