photo by Kristin Brenemen

Fat Tuesday is right around the corner and I'm hearing more and more about King Cake.  A  friend of mine in college, Lucas, was from New Orleans and my first experience with King Cake was when his mom sent him one all the way to our dorm in California to celebrate.  

I was the lucky guy who found the little plastic baby inside.

Lucas had failed to mention there was a choking hazard buried in there...

Thank God no one was hurt or killed but it got me wondering, has anyone died from King Cake?

I dug and dug through the internet and although I couldn't find anything conclusive - that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  I did; however, find that Mochi [the squishy marshmallow-like Japanese rice cakes] seem to kill a few elderly people each year during New Years in Japan.  

No way.  Really?  


This Associated Press clipping claims four elderly Tokyo residents died in the first two days of 1996 while choking on Mochi, and that the rice cakes had claimed the lives of five more in the first three days of 1995 as well.

In 2000 - Elderly choke on year end delicacy

In 2001 - 'Mochi' claims three more elderly

In 2007 - Four choke to death on 'mochi'

From the Japan Times, "According to data compiled by the health ministry, 4,407 people died by choking in 2006. By age, about 85 percent were over 65... By type of food, "mochi" pounded rice was the top culprit."  Again, I couldn't find any hard data but I'm starting to think that Mochi kills more people each year than sharks!

Whether it is the baby in the King Cake or a scrumptious ball of delicious yet deadly mochi, if something goes awry - and the Heimlich fails - you can always try the vacuum like this woman successfully did, Daughter uses vacuum cleaner to save dad's life (via Japan Times).

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Authordavid koch