The cascarones which are a symbol of Fiesta don't come from Mexico and they're not mass produced in China. 1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez reports that most of the cascarones which are staples of events ranging from NIOSA to the St. Mary's Oyster Bake are the work of families, many of whom eat an egg based diet for months to get the eggshells they colorfully paint after stuffing them with confetti.
"We create a family tradition," said Bertha Morales, who has been making and selling Fiesta cascarones for more than fifty years. "We eat dinner and then we set at the table making cascarones."
According to "A Brief History of Cascarones," the tradition of breaking eggshells stuffed with confetti dates back to the Chinese Empire a thousand years ago. The tradition is said to have been brought to Italy by explorer Marco Polo in the 15th Century. At one point, the eggshells were filled with perfume rather than paper to make them more attractive to high society ladies.
Even though many see the casacrone, which comes from the Spanish 'cascara,' meaning 'eggshell,' as a Latin American product, it's history in Mexico dates back only to the reign of the ill fated Emperor Maximillian in the 1860s. Empress Carlota brought the tradition to Mexico from Europe. It was in Mexico that the perfume was replaced by the colorful paper confetti used today.
The casacrone is not a common tradition in most of Mexico, and is actually more popular in San Antonio and elsewhere in the United States.
Morales says she and her family eats egg based dishes three days a week in the winter and spring to free up enough eggshells for cascarones.
"I save them all year, and then a month before Easter I start painting them and filling them," she says.
Morales says in many families, the making of the cascarones is as big a deal as Fiesta itself.
Traditionally, having a cicerone broken over your head is a wish of good luck.
More and more cascarones are made around the dinner tables of San Antonians like Bertha Morales. A salmonella outbreak in eggs ten years ago led to restrictions on the import of eggshells into the United Stats, meaning the home made tradition will last for a few generations more.