HAMTRAMCK (WWJ) – Outside of Michigan, few people even know what paczki are. But say the word in metro Detroit, and mouths start watering.
The first Tuesday in March, more commonly known as “Fat Tuesday,” is an unofficial holiday here in southeast Michigan. A Polish-American tradition, several celebrate Fat Tuesday by gorging on paczki — calorie-laden, deep-fried pastries filled with the most delicious creams, custards and jellies.
And as much as we complain about the colder-than-usual winter weather, people had no problem standing in line in single-digit temperatures to get their paczki fix. In historic Hamtracmk, arguably the most popular place for paczki, lines of hungry customers wrapped around bustling bakeries as far as the eye could see.
Paczki aficionados standing in line outside of New Palace Bakery were waiting for over two hours before finally making it into the warm store. Raven Makowski, of Dearborn, said the wait is absolutely worth it.
“These are the best ones to come get. My dad has been coming here for years and I’ve been eating them since I was little. This is the real deal,” she said.
Evan Mendal, of Farmington Hills, said he couldn’t feel his toes after standing in line for so long, but seeing the smile on his wife’s face will make it all worth it.
“Thus far, it’s been quite entertaining. There’s some characters out here,” he said. “My wife gave me a list so I have to get quite a variety and we’ll probably end up freezing some.”
Sandy Bakic, at George Washington Bakery, said her entire world has revolved around paczki for at least a week now. On top of making freshly baked paczki for customers, Bakic has been just as busy making orders to ship across the country.
“Detroit ex-patriots, they try to tell people what pazcki are, but other people have no idea. So, now they want to prove to them what paczki are,” she said.
Traditionally, the reason for making paczki (pronounced “pooonch-key”) was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because the ingredients are forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent, according to Michigan.org. The tradition has evolved over the years and now, come Fat Tuesday, metro Detroiters rush out to get the tastiest paczki they can find.