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Posted on Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Pigging out on paczki: Fat Tuesday marks busiest day of the year for area bakeries

By Janet Miller


Walid Dimo, owner of Dimo's Deli and Donuts on West Stadium Boulevard in Ann Arbor, plans to make nearly 9,000 paczki.

Melanie Maxwell |

The paczki-making marathon will start at 8 a.m. Monday at Dimo's Deli and Donuts. It won't stop until sometime Tuesday afternoon whenever owner Walid Dimo runs out of steam. By that time, he expects to have made nearly 9,000 of the rich pre-Lenten treats.

“I call them cholesterol tablets,” said Dimo, owner of the business on West Stadium Boulevard. “But they are so freaking good.”

Customers from Ann Arbor and the surrounding area will cast caloric caution to the wind Tuesday as they sink their teeth into thousands of the heavy pillows of fried dough overstuffed with prune, custard, raspberry and other fillings.

Dimo is one of a handful of local bakers who will pump out thousands of paczki, which can pack more than 400 calories each, while still more food emporiums will import them from out of town. Either way, customers eager for this Fat Tuesday treat will queue up all all day and spend between $1 and $3 on this annual indulgence before the beginning of Lent.


Washtenaw County residents are expected to snatch up thousands of paczki on Tuesday.


Paczki have been known in Poland since the Middle Ages, according to Wikipedia, and were made to use up ingredients, such as lard and eggs, forbidden during the Catholic season of Lent, which precedes Easter. Although Wikipedia notes that Poles ate the treats on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent, Paczki Day in America falls on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

For some local bakeries, it’s the busiest day of the year.

Dimo has been making paczki for 40 years when he worked at his parent’s doughnut shop. This year, Dimo expects to make close to 9,000 paczki. “I’ll sell every one I make,” he said.

He’ll bring in five extra staff members and will begin making them at 8 a.m. Monday. His shop will be packed, he said. “It is controlled chaos. It will be loud. People will be freaking out, worried that they won’t get any. People will walk out with three or four dozen at a time.”

Paczki sales in southeast Michigan took off in the 1970s when radio personality J.P. McCarthy mentioned them on his show, Dimo said.

Tuesday is also expected to be the busiest day of the year for the Dexter Bakery, said owner Karen Dudek. The 98-year-old bakery will make between 3,600 and 4,800 paczki in round-the-clock baking that begins early Monday. “A lot of former employees come in to help. They love paczki,” she said. The bakery sells nine flavors, from prune (the most traditional and least popular) to raspberry and custard (the most popular).

Copernicus European Delicatessen on South Main Street has ordered 7,000 paczki from a baker in Windsor, said co-owner Elizabeth Magiera. Unlike grocery store paczki that sit on the shelf for a week, they’re fresh and arrive still warm, she said. The deli opens at 6 a.m. on Paczki Day to catch the crowd headed to work.

This will be the third year Zingerman’s Bakehouse has thrown its paczki hat into the ring, making four flavors, including rose hip and ricotta cheese. Zingerman's limit, without adding more equipment, is 2,400 paczki, said Sara Richardson, marketing manager. Last year they sold out by 10 a.m.

The Bakehouse, which delivers some of its stash to the Roadhouse and Zingerman’s Deli, bowed to pressure three years ago. “Every year, we would get calls asking if we made paczki. An employee at the time was passionate about doughnuts. And one of the owners is passionate about doughnuts.” Still, the bakery only makes them once a year.

While it's likely no surprise that the bakehouse would be making and selling paczki, some might find it unusual for a tiny sandwich and hot dog shop to be offering the sweet treats.

It’s tradition, said Kerry Thompson, whose sons own Wise Guys, an Italian beef sandwich and Chicago hot dog shop on Packard Road. When he and his wife, who is Polish Catholic, owned a restaurant 30 years ago, they sold paczki. They used to order them from a Hamtramck bakery until Paczki Day became such a big business that the bakery began making them two weeks ahead and freezing them, Thompson said.

These days, Wise Guys orders them from a local baker — his name is a secret because he doesn’t want to be swamped with more orders — and expects to sell 2,000. Wise Guys will bring on six of seven drivers who will spend the day delivering them, Thompson said.

But they’ll only sell them on Tuesday, Thompson said. “It’s Paczki Day, not Paczki Week or Paczki Month. You don’t eat them Wednesday. You pig out on Tuesday then, at the stroke of midnight, you stop.”

Janet Miller is a freelance reporter for Contact the news desk at or 734-623-2530.


David Muzzatti

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

"Great place to eat breakfast or lunch. Walid & his staff do it real gooooood."


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Amadeus Restaurant makes REAL Polish paczki! The writer forgot this awesome place in her article!

Cindy Heflin

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Janet did check with Amadeus. It's our understanding the restaurant is not making paczki this year.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Dom Bakeries is another spot to get a good one.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.


J. Zarman

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

In recent years, The Produce Station sold "the real thing," trucked in from one of the Hamtramck bakeries. Janet, do you know if they are offering paczki tomorrow? Here's a helpful reference page, although I don't know if all the info therein is current.......


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Guess I am in the minority here but I don't even like them! Enjoy everyone!


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Pancake Day is celebrated in Great Britain and also in the USA. It depends if you are Protestant or not.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

In Australia it is called Pancake Tuesday and so pancakes are consumed :-)

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

This story is very incomplete because it does not include any information on how the ingredients compare. Zingerman's, for example, is probably using some great traditional ingredients, as they typically do. Some others, I'm not so sure about. So what's the scoop? What's in them? A bunch of high fructose corn syrup with artificial flavor, that comes out of a giant food service can? Is it transfat hydrogenated fake oil, or is it real lard? Clue: Lard is much more healthy. Please get us the details! Life is too short for garbage doughnuts.

Ricardo Queso

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

Paczki are not doughnuts Nick.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Kyle, a taste test would be great. I look forward to your results, and any info you can get on prep techniques, oil type used, etc. I'm not shy about doughnuts, but I won't waste my time with bad doughnuts. I don't usually bother with filled doughnuts because the filling is usually pretty nasty, and I prefer old fashioned cake style.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

Hi Nicholas that sounds like a completely different story, there are a few angles to take with those idea in fact. We will be doing a comparison of paczki offerings from some of the area bakeries tomorrow. Any specific ones you think we should be sure to check out?

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

@southoop: Mcdonalds called. They have your "chicken" ready.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 7:09 a.m.

Oh my goodness...better check with Michelle. After all, she knows what's best for us.

Pretty Gritty

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 9 p.m.

Fat people getting fatter. Don't eat that crap.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Every Tuesday is a fat one in this country.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.



Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

How would you know?


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

Hamtramik is the place to be on this day. Never had a chance to get down there although I hear they are the pros on this one. At any rate chocolate and bavarian creme are the best.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Don't gotta go that far,, Paris bakery in Livonia on Joy rd

Dog Guy

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

My yearlong desire is fully satisfied before finishing the first paczek. Multiple paczki constitute a beginning of Lenten corporal mortification.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Hilarious comment! Thanks for the laugh!


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Isn't that the plot line of "The Lord of the Rings"? Just kidding, it's Christianity.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Thinking we might have to do a side by side taste test this year as we have had them from, Copernicus Deli and Pastry Peddler in the past (both delicious). This year we are trying the ones Wise Guys brings in, but I think trying them all side by side is the best idea :-)

Elijah Shalis

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

yum I will be stopping by one of the deli's on tuesday morning. The Meijer ones are more like donuts than the real thing.


Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

"I'll sell everyone I make," he said. Could be misinterpreted, methinks.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

His kids took off running when they read that

Cindy Heflin

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

That was fixed.