Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Time To Make The Paczki!

Today is Fat Tuesday: the day before Lent begins. Depending on where you hail from the day of debauchery is known as Mardi Gras, Carnevale, Carnival, Fasching.

mArdi gras mask

As we’ve discussed before, in Detroit it’s known as Paczki Day. There was a time not so long ago that if you didn’t live in Detroit or Chicago or another city with a sizable Poletown you would have never heard of the paczki. It was made just once a year and could only be snagged from authentic Polish bakeries such as Hamtramck’s New Palace, where people still wait in long lines for the real deal.

new palace bakery paczkiThe Paczki line

But since the dawn of the internet the popularity of this legendary pre-lenten doughnut with the unpronounceable name has spread far and wide. Every supermarket bakery and donut shop saw a golden marketing opportunity and hence rebranded their filled donuts as “Paczki” for a month either side of Ash Wednesday.

Grocery store donuts are NOT real paczki, no matter what the box they pack them in says.

Real,authentic paczki are made just once a year. They are made with eggs, flour, lard and grain alcohol mixed into fruit fillings like cherry, raspberry, apricot or – most traditional of all, prunes, now marketed as ‘plum filling’ by the fake paczki bakeries. They are topped with with sugar – granulated or powdered – or glazed with icing. In time New World flavors such as custard, chocolate and lemon were added to the repertoire.

authentic paczkiAuthentic Paczki

As the popularity of the pre-Lenten treat spread, so did the spin-offs and charlatans. Everything from Paczki Day vodka


to Detroit’s American Coney Island paczki dogs.

detroit's American coney island paczki

Now, for a little coaching on proper pronunciation: A singular donut is a pączek, pronounced “poon-check.” Pączki is plural and pronounced “poonch-key” because Americans have a very difficult time with the actual Polish pronunciation which is more like “pownch-key.” But according to comments on this helpful guide, none of this is definitive.

Regardless of how you pronounce them, or whether they are authentic or not, get yourself out there and snag some delicious paczki – or a king cake if you happen to live near the epicenter of Mardi Gras in this country.

king cake

Savor your sweets today as Lent begins tomorrow. And remember: Lent is God’s way of giving you a second crack at your New Year’s resolutions. Alternatively you could follow JohnS’ lead and give up your New Year’s Resolutions for Lent. It’s all good!

Laissez les bons temps rouler i22

Post Script:

dog powdered sugar nosePaczkis? What paczkis?