What Are Fiesta Beads?

Fiesta beads are strings of colored glass or plastic beads typically worn as necklaces during Mardi Gras or other celebrations. They are usually simply referred to as beads during festivities.

Beads and other plastic trinkets have been given out during Mardi Gras since the 1920s and are also known as Mardi Gras throws, according to National Geographic. Plastic coins known as doubloons and designed by the artist H. Alvin Sharpe have also been thrown since the 1960s. While these items are thrown from the floats for free, the beads have a reputation for being given to women who bare their breasts. This misconception comes from the 1970s, when people would trade their beads to women who worked in the strip clubs in the French Quarter of New Orleans.