By Noah Kaufman
Updated March 04, 2014
Mardi Gras beads
© Julie Dermansky/Corbis

Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone. It's that special time of year when the world descends on New Orleans and collectively shows its assets off to anyone who will throw dollar store plastic jewelry from a float. Don't get us wrong, Mardi Gras is a time to let it all hang out, but you should at least be doing it for the right reasons.

King Cake

There is no bad food during Mardi Gras—gumbo, po'boys, anything with étouffée in the name—but if you can only eat one thing on Fat Tuesday it's gotta be the purple and green besprinkled ring with the tiny plastic baby baked inside. (Don't eat that part.)

A Real Zulu Coconut

Originally a cheap replacement for the glass jewelry that used to be thrown during Mardi Gras, Zulu coconuts are what they sound like: hand-painted coconuts. But nowadays they make for much more interesting conversation pieces than those boring beads. See if you can snag one, but don't get caught chucking them into the crowd: New Orleans outlawed the throwing of coconuts during Mardi Gras in 1988. Apparently, hurling what amounts to a fancy looking rock into a mass of 10,000 people was too dangerous for them. What buzzkills.

The Second Line

Music and New Orleans are like… toplessness and beads. They have just always gone together. And nothing is more iconic during Mardi Gras than a second line brass band marching down the street. If anyone deserves a show from you, it's the guys providing the backbeat to the whole event.

A Sazerac

You can do better than a sugary, red Hurricane in a souvenir plastic cup, can't you? Sure you can. Get someone to mix you up this New Orleans classic and see if you can barter for a few seconds of full frontal.

The Krewe of Chewbacchus

What's that? You're going to Mardi Gras but you can also list off all the actors who played Dr. Who in alphabetical or chronological order? Then go looking for the self-proclaimed nerds of the carnival, the Krewe of Chewbacchus. You'll be able to recognize them by their sci-fi costumes and translucent skin that looks like it hasn't seen the sun in years. And if you play your cards right, you could be going home with your own pair of wookie panties. Whatever they are.