You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

Paczki Day is Tuesday - what are you doing to celebrate?

By Edward Vielmetti

Paczki Day is an annual Polish-American celebration of Fat Tuesday, celebrated in other places as Mardi Gras. The last of your rich, sweet foods you have saved up is made into a sort of jelly doughnut, though they are distinguished from the typical domestic jelly doughnut by the richness of the dough, which generally has eggs and milk. You are thus prepared for the austerity of Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday.

Here's a roundup of local and global information about Paczki Day. If you're unfamiliar with local custom, it helps to know that the local center of the paczki world is Hamtramck, an enclave of Detroit with a historic Polish immigrant population. If you are familiar with the Polish tradition, perhaps you are a bit confused by the celebration on Tuesday - because, as I found out to my surprise, Paczki Day really was last Thursday.

Today, I'll share links to paczki.

Repetition is the soul of the net. If I've told you this once, I've said it a thousand times. Every year, regular as clockwork, there is an audience of people reading about where to pick blueberries, how to get election returns, who makes the best paczki, what to do on your birthday or your kids birthday. If you get a free pass to repeat your good content over and over again annually, do it.

Ann Arbor packzi

Lisa Leutheser's Kitchenchick weblog has a wonderful annual roundup of paczki information. Her 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2005 annual reviews are a great place to start for local information.

Arborwiki, Ann Arbor's encyclopedia of neighborhood information and lost restaurant trivia, has an extensive paczki page, placed in the category "Pastries that are not strange." It's worth a look at the same time at the Arborwiki donuts page, which is remarkably comprehensive.


No mention of paczki would be complete without instructions on how to get to Hamtramck, about 45 miles east of Ann Arbor. Take I-94 east to I-75 north, then take exit 55 toward Caniff. You'll want to get there early on Tuesday, since the celebrations start when the many bakeries open their doors after making paczki all night. The Hamtramck Downtown Development Authority has a complete schedule.

The Hamtramck Star is your first best place to look for information about the city; it runs news of the city, plus many links to local food and politics blogs there.

CBS's Mo Rocca was in Hamtramck in 2008 with a video feature on the celebrations.

Yelp's reviews of the New Palace Bakery, New Deluxe Bakery, and the New Martha Washington Bakery, all in Hamtramck, give you directions and a sense for what's possible.

More links around the area

For reference, here's some more reading from previous years on the paczki scene.

Brooklyn, New York

If you are one of the many Ann Arborites of my acquaintance who landed in Brooklyn, the Peter Pan Bakery, 727 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn looks like a good bet with this review from the Blondie and Brownie weblog.

Chicago celebrated last week

Chicago celebrates Paczki Day the Thursday before Fat Tuesday. Chicagoist has a comprehensive roundup of area events in that city and its Polish neighborhoods.

The Chicago Reader's 2008 preview of the season noted a "pazcki fun day" at a local bakery where "participants can fry, glaze, and fill their Polish doughnuts with fillings including plum butter, rose petal jelly, raspberry, boozy custard, and whipped cream." Forget Valentine's day, suggests WBEZ "Adventures in Urban Eating" blogger Steve Dolinsky: "While everyone concentrates on Fat Tuesday parties next week, Chicagoans know that today is also a big day for the million or so residents in our area of Polish descent. It's Paczki Day today, and these squat, circular orbs of yeast-fed dough, fruit preserves and frosting will be sold in huge numbers over the next 24 hours."

From Poland

Madzia Bryll has beautiful photos of paczki from Polish bakeries. She writes: "At home in the old country, what we actually celebrate is Fat Thursday (TÅ‚usty Czwartek). It falls on the last Thursday before Lent- almost a week before Ash Wednesday. In other words, today."

Whenever you celebrate, remember, that although they look like jelly doughnut, paczki have a rich historic and cultural significance.

Edward Vielmetti celebrates every single feast day in every single religion that he can find. Contact him at 734-330-2465, or leave a letter inside a box of paczki at 301 E. Liberty St, Ann Arbor MI 48104.


another kathy

Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 5:01 p.m.

I have to say I've only tasted 2 paczki in my entire life (and I am almost 65!) For my version of "Fat Tuesday" I purchased a fabulous 4 pack of Zingerman's Magic Brownies on Sunday and consumed the final one this afternoon. My dear husband got to eat one.


Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 4:29 p.m.

Got any info on Paczki Day by the numbers? Average number sold, average number of each kind, etc.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 6:57 p.m.

My husband will be geting up at 3am to start the dough for HOMEMADE Paczki. He has a website where he instructs you how to make lots of goodies at home! Tune in this week to see how they turn out!!


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

Ed, clearly you have thought/dreamt long and hard about this topic! It makes me smile. Generally I'm all for creative food, but...if it ain't prune, it ain't a paczki. If it's got American cheese in it, it's way not a pierogi. (And if it's got something sweet in it, it ain't a bagel, but that's another topic.) Stinking up the OWS by making a big batch of kapusta for the big day.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 1:47 p.m.

If you're going to blow your New Year's resolution diet for Mardi Gras, you may as well make the trek to my Uncle Ed's favorite Hamtramck bakery. The New Palace Bakery on Jos. Campau makes the finest version of these buttery delights. All the donuts that pass themselves off as paczki, pale in comparison. The prune and apricot are the most traditional, but they're all great.


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

Dimo's is the only place to go. They have been making the best paczki for over 30 years. Highly recommended!!


Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

Oh yeah, Copernicus has great paczki from Hamtramck - in traditional flavors too (prune and rose-hip...tho my faves are the custard filled).

Rex Roof

Mon, Feb 15, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

Copernicus. the place to go. I'll be there at 7:30ish to get my one and only paczki of the day. Anymore than that and I won't need lunch, or feel very good.