Who Invented Mardi Gras?

In today's episode, we tackle a controversial subject - who invented Mardi Gras? Mobile or New Orleans?

My guest is Ted Flotte, with the Historic Mobile Preservation Society and Joe Cain Marching Society. Ted and I explore the history of Carnival and Mardi Gras in both Mobile and New Orleans.


On today’s show, you’ll learn...

  • About the many things Mobile and New Orleans share in common, including their founders
  • The history of Carnival and Mardi Gras in both places, and
  • How to look for the tell tale signs someone walking down the street may be a member of one of Carnival's most secret organizations!

All this and more on today's episode of the Beyond Bourbon Street podcast!

Resources Recommended Reading
  • Ann Pond: Cowbellion; Masons and Mardi Gras; and Cain.  Ann Pond is originally from New Orleans, got her BA/MA from U.N.O. and PhD from U.S.M. Former Assistant Diector of the Gallier House.  These three books are well-researched and sourced to give an accurate account of the beginning of Mardi Gras in Mobile and New Orleans. Available on Amazon or Lulu.
  • Samuel Kinser: Carnival, American Style: Mardi Gras at New Orleans and Mobile. (1990) A Professor of History at Northern Illinois University gives his outsider, academic take. Available on Amazon.
  • Rosary O'Neill: New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit & Secrets of Mardi Gras. An insiders view of New Orleans krewes. Available on Amazon.
  • Jennifer Atkins, New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920. Ditto. Available on Amazon.


  • Order of Myths, Margaret Brown.  A behind-the-scenes look at many aspects of Mobile Mardi Gras. Watch on Amazon.
  • By Invitation Only, Rebecca Snedeker.  A more incisive and critical (New Orleans Magazine called it a "hatchet job") look at New Orleans krewes.  Available on newday.com.
  • Always For Pleasure, Les Blank. A classic.
  • All On A Mardi Gras Day, Royce Osborn

Photographic Books

  • Jeff and Megan Haller, and Eleanor Inge Baker: Bon Temps: Alabama's Mardi GrasAvailable online.
  • Kerri McCaffety: Masking and Madness: Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Other Books
  • Robert Tallant: Mardi Gras As It Was
  • Anything by Henri Schindler, Errol Laborde or Arthur Hardy (New Orleans), or Emily Staples Hearin (Mobile)
  • A History of the Strikers 1852- America's Oldest Mystic Society (1997);
  • The Mistick Krewe: Chronicles of Comus and his Kin (Perry Young, 1931)
  • Our Book of State — The History of the Order of Myths (1967)
  • Infant Mystics - The First Hundred Years (Caldwell Delaney/Cornelia McDuffie Turner, 1968)
  • If I Ever Cease to Love — One Hundred Years of Rex 1872-1971 (Charles Dufour/Lenoard Huber, 1971)
  • Without Malice — the 100th Anniversary of the Comic Cowboys (Samuel Eichold, 1989) 
  Website and Glossy Magazines   Arthur Hardy's Mardi Gras Guide   The Mobile Mask (Steve Joynt)   N.B. Because our discussion focused on the historic ties between New Orleans and Mobile, these recommendations are concentrated on the krewes that were formed as a result. There are many other sources that could be included about Mardi Gras since 1900.  For instance, the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association has also had a King and Queen since 1940. Please check your local bookstores first. Thank You

A huge thanks to Ted Flotte, with the Historic Mobile Preservation Society and Joe Cain Marching Society. Ted not only conceived the idea for this episode, but also provided the treasure trove of resources listed above.

Thanks to Liz Maute Cooke of Lionheart Prints for providing a space to record the episode. After we recorded, Liz decided to become our first sponsor - yay! Check out all the fabulous hand lettered cards, prints, and handmade goods made by New Orleans artists. Shop online or in person and use the code BEYONDBOURBON to get 5 bucks off any t-shirt. I am currently loving my "Who's Your Crawdaddy" shirt with a design hand drawn by Liz.

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