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Arts & Culture

The Hierarchy of New Orleans Mardi Gras Throws

From basic beads to Zulu coconuts, Nyx purses and Muses shoes, here is the hierarchy of New Orleans Mardi Gras parade throws.

Mardi Gras throws are the currency of Carnival season. Although the beads and assorted paraphernalia only retain their value through Fat Tuesday, some throws are worth more than others. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if you’ve indulged in a hurricane or two, so check out this guide to determine which throws you should let your neighbor catch and which are worth chasing a float down two blocks to obtain.

Mardi Gras beads with medallions. (Photo by Shira Pinsker)
This Krewe Du Vieux hand out is funny, but not timeless. (Photo by Shira Pinsker)

Not worth the fight

Small, round, plastic beads are the cheapest throws available, and thus the most common. You’ll catch a lot during your first few parades, but they will just end up on the floor of your living room or in a garbage bag. If you’re not going to repurpose these beads as craft material, drop them off at an ARC location or pass them onto a krewe member to reuse.

A little goes a long way

Small beads with special shapes: While notable for their distinction from the round beads, these throws won’t stand out once you’re off the parade route.
Handmade items giveaways: Many of the krewes that host smaller parades in the Bywater, French Quarter and Marigny pass out themed, handmade kitsch, often made from paper. Although the gags are funny in the moment and make for fond memories, they aren’t necessarily the most collectible.

Keepsakes, collectibles and gifts

mardi gras new orleans
Doubloon coins are valuable Mardi Gras currency. (Photo by Shira Pinsker)

Doubloons and beads with medallions: Doubloons are aluminum coins, customized with the krewe’s name and insignia. These, in addition to beads adorned with a medallion, make excellent keepsakes.
Plastic cups: Bonus points to Mardi Gras cups for their practicality.
Glass beads: Mardi Gras beads used to be made of glass. Don’t despair if you can’t catch one of these collectibles because there are plenty for sale in the antique shops on Magazine Street.
Stuffed Animals, frisbees and squeeze toys: Ideal for the kid or dog in your life.

Flash Worthy

Any large beads: You will understand bead lust when a krewe member unfurls a string of beads the size of your head.
Zulu Coconuts, Muses Shoes and Nyx Purses: Even the most cynical New Orleanians who leave town during Mardi Gras have glittered shoes and purses and painted coconuts on display in their homes. That’s because they are one-of-a-kind, handmade and the most coveted items of Carnival. Go after them.

A glittered purse from Nyx, a coveted Mardi Gras throw. (Photo by Shira Pinsker)

Which Mardi Gras throws are your favorite? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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