HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Things "hidden" in traditional celebratory foods?

Not talking about sneaking in some vegetables in the Mac N Cheese, or the like.

Rather, I am asking about things that are traditionally "hidden" in a food so that the person who is lucky enough to find it or eat it is deemed lucky or extra fortuitous?

For example, during Chinese New Year we will often make dumplings (hundreds at a time), and my mom would generally stick a penny in one or make one loaded with sugar. The person who ends up eating the dumpling with the hidden penny or sugar is supposed to have extra luck in the new year.

Similarly, I understand that the french hide a bean in La Galette des Rois (aka King's Cake) so that the person who eats the pastry with the bean is crowned King for the day.

What other traditions are there along these lines?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I read that Christmas English Plum puddings, often has a coin baked in, the finder gets luck. And supposedly, everyone takes a turn stirring the pudding when mixing for "luck" as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Quine

      not baked but steamed. My mum used to put money in the Xmas pud - in ye olden days it was threepenny bits and one sixpence which was the 'prize' to get.

    2. Our Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is a minefield of hidden objects. A penny for wealth, a small automobile signifying local travel with an airplane for longer trips, a starfish means someone is going to the beach this year, a (tiny) horseshoe for good luck, a (small) clown for merriment and a golden wedding ring for continued happiness. We truly ought to have a dentist nearby when we dig in!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Sherri

        A golden wedding ring? Wow. That's quite a food prop.

        1. re: Sherri

          sherri, you win the prize :)
          I love the sentiments that go into your goodies....
          good job

          1. re: Sherri

            Fun--it's like finding Monopoly pieces in your food! My husband eats so quickly I'd be worried that they'd be choking hazards.

            1. re: chowser

              Yup, I eat quickly, and I'd probably swallow my good luck piece!

            2. re: Sherri

              Hi Sherri, we had these things when I was growing up and my siblings have been looking for them for some time. Do you know where to get them?

            3. I thought it was a baby in the King cake? Maybe it's been updated w/ a bean because it's disconcerting to bite into a plastic baby.

              Bridesmaids cake can have a ring or something like that baked in and the person who finds it next is supposed to be the next to be married, or something like that.

              What about that yolk in mooncakes? I know they're edible but I'd be happy to treat those as disposables.

              7 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                Yolks are not hidden. The mooncake packages tell you which ones have yolks and which ones do not.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I don't buy them--they come in zip lock bags from my MIL. ;-) I can't read the packages but I can tell by the price. But, the yolks are hidden like the other items are hidden. You know they're there, you just don't know where inside.

                  1. re: chowser

                    But, the yolks are hidden like the other items are hidden. You know they're there, you just don't know where inside.

                    Not quite sure I am following you.

                    With dumplings, it's a matter of eating the dumpling with the penny (or sugar). With the gallete it's the person who gets the piece of cake with the hidden goodie.

                    A mooncake that has a yolk, is going to have the yolk no matter how you really cut it.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      It was really just a tongue in cheek remark about things you find in food that you don't want to eat. I really dislike the yolk.

                2. re: chowser

                  It was a bean before the introduction of the baby. It use to be where the bean was baked right into the cake and with that some people may not realized that there is a bean in there. At least with the baby, if you bite into it, you will know that it is there.

                  Bridesmaids I haven't heard of that but I have heard of the old Southern tradition of the cake pull which is where charms are attached to ribbon with different meanings and that is suppose to say what should be happening next.

                  1. re: vttp926

                    tell more about this tradition, please. i've never seen that.

                    edit: google is my friend. ;-)


                    maybe i needed to be a debutante. LOL

                    --->>>"""Most popular in the South, especially around New Orleans, the Cake Pull gets it’s roots from an old Victorian tradition of “ribbon pulling.” In those days, charms of luck and good fortune were placed into the wedding cake by the bride for her single friends. Now a days, bakers place sterling silver charms with specific means inside the bottom layer of the bride’s cake and all the single ladies are given the opportunity to pull a charm from the cake (a ceremony called the “ribbon pull”) just before the cake is cut.

                    Each charm has a specific and special meaning:

                    Hot Air Balloon or Eiffel Tower – A life full of adventure and travel

                    Claddagh – Friendship, Love, & Loyalty
                    Butterfly – Eternal Beauty

                    Star – Your wish will come true!

                    Anchor – Adventure is around the corner.

                    Four Leaf Clover – Good luck!

                    Flower – Blossoming love.

                    Heart – New Love!

                    Fleur-de-Lis – Love and Prosperity.

                    Kite- Something fun is about to happen.

                    Wishbone – Success!

                    Ring (similar to catching the bouquet)- Next to get married!

                    maybe sherri (upthread) is from new orleans, and thus her hoppin' john and greens get this charming treatment. and i agree, sherri IS the indubitable winner! ;-).

                3. In Finland, a screamingly delicious rice porridge is traditionally served on Christmas Eve morning. One blanched almond "hidden" in the porridge is believed to bring good luck for the person who finds it in his or her portion.

                  1. We used to have plum pudding at a british friend's house on Christmas. There were little silver (or silver-colored) charms in the pudding, made just for that purpose (like horseshoes, 4 leaf clover and other shapes). The six-pence was the special prize.

                    1. I recall a family we used to celebrate Passover w/ would put a raisin or something edible and small into a mazto ball and if you got it, you had to tell a joke or a story or sing a song. I used to try to hide it in my napkin!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MRS

                        sounds like "cranium"…. LOL

                      2. My Irish Mom made Christmas cakes (whiskey fruitcake) every year and there would be surprises included - a ring for love and marriage, a coin for luck and wealth and a holy medal for good measure.

                        1. even English in Quebec will buy a Kings cake in january, nice custom after Christmas and when they go on display in the patisseries, kind of hard to resist. Custom probably came here due to many pastry chefs coming from France. We used to add a dollar coin wrapped in wax paper as no one seemed excited to find a bean! These Galette cakes are found in all the main pastry shops as well as many neighbourhood ones, all freshly baked. Here is a photo of the cake.


                          I have actually seen them already in neighbourhood shop, but probably taking orders for them as everyone busy ordering christmas log cakes right now

                          When we were children our mothers made our birthdays cakes and when we had birthday parties there would be several coins wrapped in parchment paper hidden throughout the cake for all the little guests and much excitement in the anticipation of winning some money. But nowadays this would not be done for fear of accidents such as broken tooth!

                          1. Greek New Year's cake, Vasilopita, has a coin hidden inside. In our household, whoever found it received an amount of money, $20-50 depending on how generous my father was feeling that year.

                            1. Growing up in Argentina, we had two "hidden item" traditions.

                              One, probably similar to the French tradition you mention, is the "rosca de Reyes", a pastry eaten for 3 Kings Day. Bakers usually include a little trinket inside. I'm not sure if finding it means anything, but it's cool :-)

                              Now, wedding cakes in Argentina have (or had, when I was growing up) ribbons coming out of them. Each ribbon is tied to a small trinket, but one in particular is tied to a ring. Before the cake is eaten all the guests get to pull at the ribbons, and whoever gets the ring will get married next.

                              1. Oh, and not a tradition but I took a seminar in college once in which each person had to bring a treat to class. Whoever brought the treat would hid a little monkey inside whatever he brought, and whoever got it had to bring treats for the next class :)

                                1. In Mexico on Jan. 6, which is Día de Reyes or King's Day, there is the tradition of Rosca de Reyes (Rusk/bread of the Kings), a wreath/crown shaped sweet bread that has a plastic miniature baby Jesus figurines hidden inside. Whoever finds the Holy Infant is supposed to host a party and serve tamales on Feb 2., which is Candlemas.

                                  1. Easter eggs have treats inside - I am not sure if Americans have them but they are massive in the UK and full of more chocolates, toys etc.

                                    1. My grandma (from Alabama) always hid a dime in the black-eyed peas and served them with collard greens, which also symbolize wealth.