Pączki Day (Detroit Style) aka Fat Tuesday

This is my usual Fat Tuesday post with a few updates; I won’t be eating these today, but remember them fondly.

It’s Pączki Day, and in Detroit that means you should be sure to wear your stretchy pants or, as my old friend Denise used to say, your expando clothes!

Pączki, or Polish doughnuts, are eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland and Fat Tuesday in the United States. It’s the last splurge before Lent begins.


When I was still working, my employer provided huge boxes of them with every available filling next to the coffee machines in various areas of the building.  Considering that the company is owned by Italians, I thought that was darned nice of them. My personal favorites are custard-filled and lemon-filled, but they are all delicious (and fattening.) Yum!

Depending on the size and filling, each pączki will be from 400 – 700 calories. Since they are deep fried, they aren’t low-fat either, up to 20 grams per serving.

According to Wikipedia:

Pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidl (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry, and apple.

The traditional reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.

paczki3In North America, particularly the large Polish communities of Chicago, Detroit, and other large cities across the Midwest and Northeast, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. With its sizable Polish population, Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday; pączki are also often eaten on Casimir Pulaski Day. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday.

The Pączki Day celebrations in some areas are even larger than many celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day. In Hamtramck, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit, there is an annual Pączki Day (Shrove Tuesday) Parade, which has gained a devoted following. Throughout the Metro Detroit area, it is so widespread that many bakeries attract lines of customers for pączki on Pączki Day.

Paczki Day — taking place this year on February 21 — is a good reason to satisfy your sweet tooth. Bakeries, bars, and markets across metro Detroit are offering classic favorites, like custard-filled versions of the Polish donuts, to inventive treats, like vodka distilled with raspberry paczki.

DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s that time of year again – Fat Tuesday, or as we call it in Metro Detroit, Paczki Day.

It’s long been a Polish-American tradition to celebrate the final day before Lent – the 40-day Christian fasting period between Ash Wednesday and Easter – by indulging in paczki (pronounced “poonch-key”).

They’re going to be a hot commodity in Metro Detroit on Tuesday, with people heading out in droves to bakeries and anywhere else they can get their hands on some, like a church in Mt. Clemens that’s giving them out for free.

Here is a list of some of the best places to get paczki in Metro Detroit:

• New Palace Bakery – 9833 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck
• New Martha Washington Bakery – 10335 Joseph Campau Ave., Hamtramck
• Family Donut Shop -11300 Conant St., Hamtramck
• Donut Villa – 5875 Vernor Hwy., Detroit
• American Polish Cultural Center – 2975 E Maple Rd., Troy
• Apple Fritter Donut Shop – 741 E 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale
• Daily Dozen – 32701 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak
• Donut Cutter – 28173 Woodward Ave., Berkley
• GM Paris Bakery – 28418 Joy Rd., Livonia
• Randazzo’s Fresh Market – Locations in Warren, Clinton Township and Macomb

Since I have no pączki at my house, I will just savor the memories! If you would like to try making them yourself, here’s a YouTube video for a less caloric baked version:

Whatever we indulge in today to celebrate the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday, it all represents preparation for the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting, self-examination and penitence, leading up to the death and rebirth at Easter.

It is a season in which we follow Jesus the Savior from His temptation in the wilderness, to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and to the cross on Good Friday. Lent is a season of hope. It looks to the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world and anticipates the joy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

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13 Responses to Pączki Day (Detroit Style) aka Fat Tuesday

  1. Pa Hermit says:

    In my younger days I could empty a box (dozen) doughnuts in nuthin flat. With a cup o joe and a box of goodies, I was good for about 20 minutes, LOL. My steel mill town had a huge mix of ethnicity and believe it or not, I never had a chance to try these polish gems. My days of eating the sweets are pretty much over. Hard to believe, but when I was a cub scout, our pack sold chocolate Easter eggs. My mom bought a 5 lb maple egg and I polished that off inside of an hour. Mom let me know how she felt about that in so many words that I won’t repeat. My dad then started calling me the candy kid. Moderation needless to say, was NOT my strong suit, LOL. Not a hundred percent sure, but I’d bet it was 1959. Oh the memories, thanks Stella!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Menagerie says:

      One of the things I love about Pączki Day is the celebration of the ethnicity. I think about all the communities you used to have in big cities like Detroit. Irish, Polish, Italian, so many choosing to live in their own neighborhoods. You used to be able to identify them by the names of their churches after their patron saints.

      Anyhow, I like that so many cultures, while falling into the American melting pot, were so wise as to keep celebrations, holidays, and traditions.

      Thank you for the post Stella. I look forward to it every year. And I remember the day so many years ago when I was able to enjoy Pączki Day in Dearborn. We started the day off with a box of the delicious treats. That was the first I’d ever heard of the treat or the custom.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Stella says:

        I live just a few minutes north of Hamtramck on I-75, and it still has a strong Polish flavor, although it is now increasingly populated by Muslims. A few years ago I attended the funeral mass of the elderly mother of a friend at St. Ladislaus Church in Hamtramck. The after lunch was held at a neighborhood tavern, with traditional Polish food and a open bar! By the way, there are four Roman Catholic churches within the city boundaries: St. Ladislaus, Immaculate Conception, Holy Cross Polish National Catholic Church and St. Florian. Immaculate Conception is a Ukrainian Parish. Hamtramck has a population of roughly 28,000, the most densely populated municipality in Michigan.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reflection says:

    Doughnuts again today! And with a recipe.

    Hope Texan makes it by with the coffee.

    Good morning Pa Hermit.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 5 pound maple egg. A solid chocolate Easter egg sounds good. The hollow eggs always seem a little disappointing.

    Lucille may be showing up shortly with her lovely photographs.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Menagerie says:

    BTW, I linked your post at the Tree so you may have some first time commenters here Stella.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. WI-RiverRat says:

    Here in the Wausau WI area (north central part of the state had heavy Polish & German immigration ) the traditions changed a bit along with the spelling. My mother-in-law would make “Ponczkas” as she called them later in Lent. My wife learned from her mother and carries on the family traditions. Our daughter has learned the process and they both have been teaching many friends in the area.

    Thanks for the wonderful history lesson on the Detroit area! May you have a blessed Lenten season.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. VT Farm Wife says:

    In Pennsylvania, especially the parts settled by Germans, they’re called Fastnachts, same day, same sort of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stella says:

      There is an Italian version too, popular during Carnivale in Venice, called frittelle. I imagine that there are others.

      Like stuffed pastas, there are probably varieties in many countries. Examples of stuffed pastas: pierogies, pelmeni, vareniki, ravioli, tortellini, dim sum dumplings, khinkali, Japanese stuffed dumplings, Czech potato dumplings.


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