Absolute Moral Authority

Because plain old moral authority just wasn’t good enough — a mesablue production

No Paczkis for me

Posted by mesablue on February 21, 2007

Paczkis (pronounced punchkeys) are a Fat Tuesday tradition in the Detroit Metro area.

Paczki aplenty

The skinny on Fat Tuesday’s favorite treat

HAMTRAMCK — Fat Tuesday is here and David Monikean is ready now that he’s bought four dozen paczki from his favorite bakery.

Like many Metro Detroiters who have fond, sugar-filled memories of these treats, the Port Huron man makes an annual trip to this Polish enclave, which helped usher the pastries into stardom.

“You can buy paczki (pronounced POONCH-key) anywhere, but in Hamtramck, it’s a big party,” said Suzy Ognanovich, whose husband’s family has owned New Palace Bakery for more than 30 years.

If you want to partake in Paczki Day, here are some things to know about these sugar-coated pastries that are bursting with filling:

Paczki pack a lot of punch

They contain, “lots of butter, sugar, eggs, flour and a lot of labor of love,” said Sandy Bakic, a second-generation baker at New Martha Washington Bakery.

A typical 5-ounce paczek (say POON-chek) contains about 420 calories and 25 or more grams of fat. It’s loaded with refined carbohydrates. The good news? They’re cooked in vegetable oil, not lard as they once were.

To burn off a single paczek, you’ll need to run for 30-47 minutes or ride a bicycle for 40-60 minutes. It’ll take up to two hours to walk it off, says Beaumont Hospital.

Don’t call ’em jelly doughnuts

While the two may look similar, Bakic says that’s like comparing a cake to a torte.

Paczki are made with richer dough and have a more rounded shape, like a baseball. They call for more sugar, butter and eggs than a regular jelly doughnut and bakers need to let paczki dough rise three separate times before they can be fried.

The result is richer and spongier than a doughnut.

As you can tell from the article, it’s a Polish tradition. Or so the people here will tell you. If you listen to the people in Detroit, Poland is a country filled with people running around with Paczkis aplenty. Stand on any street corner and a Paczki will appear magically in front of you, just waiting for you to bite into it’s lard and jelly filled mushiness.

I’m from Chicago. Chicago has more Polish people than any other city in the world other than Warsaw — no joke. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Nothwest side along Milwaukee Avenue visiting Polish restaurants and bars. Never a Paczki in sight. Not a one.

Lot’s of great sausages and fresh pierogis, but — no Paczkis.

Last time I was there, I asked at a bakery for a Paczki. They spoke mostly Polish and I wasn’t able to decipher exactly (my Polish is somewhat limited — jak się masz?) what they were saying to me, but It sounded a lot like — what the heck are you talking about, get out of here!

I talked to some Polish friends and they explained that while they had heard of Paczkis, they are by no means a national obsession. My friends described them as “gross”. Something your grandmother might force on you once in a while, but not something you really cared much for.

I tend to go along with them. Paczkis are big dough balls with something gooey squirted inside of them. No thanks.

Detroit, you can have your (fake) Polish tradition.

I’ll pass.

11 Responses to “No Paczkis for me”

  1. damewigginsoflee said

    How funny! I’ll have to check out some polish joints (here in the windy city) and see if i can track one down. If i manage to survive a bite without slipping into a diabetic coma, i’ll return with a review.

  2. Joe said

    Eat one first! They are delicious.
    They are not for sticking in your ass, that is what chicago dogs are for.

  3. mesablue said

    I like my doughnuts without a gooey filling.

  4. krzysztof said

    Of course it’s not a national obsession, but a tradition nonetheless, especially in the Detroit area, one of the countries fattest cities. Next time you want to downgrade a cultural occasion or object, at least use the correct spelling of it especially if your referenced source makes a point to inform the reader of the correct grammatical form. Too bad the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw couldn’t capitalize on the American fat fixation, turn it into a profit and give the rest of Chicagoland a reason to celebrate.

  5. mesablue said

    You are referring to paczek?

    Not a person in Detroit, outside of those directly from Poland, would have a clue as to what I was talking about if I called them paczek.

    Not sure if I inderstand your reason for commenting. First I don’t use the correct spelling. Then, Detroit is a fat city, so of course they like Paczki. Next, it’s too bad that Chicago doesn’t jump on the fat bandwagon.

    Your sarcasm is disconnected. Either that or you’re just cranky. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. coreyb said


    I’ve lived in Poland for 10 years and am married to a wonderful Polish lady. Yes, a paczek is a polish doghnut, and no, there’s not just one kind. Yes, there is a long standing tradition in Poland, as in many other Catholic countries to celebrate on Fat Tuesday. So, the person at the bakery is 100% correct.

    I have three bakeries within 4 minute’s walking-distance from my apartment, and all of them sell several kinds of these polish doughnuts every single day of the year!! And they sell-out, every singel day. So, yes, Poland LOVES the doughnuts. And, since the majority of them work hard enough to burn it off, it doesn’t seem to be a huge problem.

    So, please – this is not a “(fake)” tradition, it is practiced till today all over this beautiful country.

    Hope this helps. I, personally, am not fond of the paczki because they’re rather heavy on my stomach.

    Gorzow Wlkp.

  7. mesablue said

    Thanks for the info.

    I am just surprised that the tradition isn’t as widespread in Chicago with the large Polish population.

  8. […] [Paczkis] Pronounced “punchkeys” […]

  9. former Chicago Polish said

    I’m from Chicago as well (far north side) and yes, we had paczkis. All the time. But all the bakeries had them specifically for Fat Tuesdays and hot cross buns on Ash Wednesdays. Maybe the bakery ladies were pulling your leg… BTW – found this article by searching “punchkeys” because I needed to give the correct spelling to a friend. Because Fat Tuesday is right around the corner, I need to find them in central Illinois.

  10. porknbeasn said

    Used to teach in a Catholic school in Southfield. Carting paczkis in on Fat Tuesday so that the little monsters can bounce off the walls was tradition.
    They put too much jelly in them. I lumme some custard.

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