Unlike most foods, king cakes are only served during a specific time of the year. King cake season is throughout Carnival, meaning between Epiphany, which is the 12th day after Christmas (January 6), until Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras).
Traditionally, a small bean was placed in the cake as it baked to symbolize the baby Jesus. Over time, bakers began using feves, which literally means beans, but were actually porcelain figurines that were baked into the cake.
Tradition says that the person who finds the hidden baby inside the king cake receives a paper crown, is declared king for the day and is responsible for buying the next cake.