The Paczki process


Paczkis in Branya’s Bakery sit on a shelf waiting to be bought. Branya’s Bakery has been selling paczkis for eight years.

Karisa Candreva, Author

Fat Tuesday is best known for the heavy box of delicious smelling donuts and the abundant amount of chocolate candy eaten by people throughout the day. This tradition of eating sweets on sweets started in Poland as a way to use up excess amounts of food before the Christian fasting of Lent.

“There [was] no refrigeration hundreds of years ago. You gave up what was considered a luxury in life and luxuries were actually the preserves and the fats. When you only have a larder to preserve foods, they won’t make it through the time of Lent, so you have to find a way to use it up or it’ll go bad,” Jean Theile, Owner of Branya’s Bakery, said.

The most convenient way to use up these preserves and fats was to combine them into one glorious donut: the paczki.

“The dough is richer and sweeter, so there’s more butter, more sugar and more eggs in the actual dough versus a donut, but it’s a yeast dough, so it’s the same along the lines of making bread,” Theile said.

Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, is seen as a day of celebration, especially on the party-like streets of New Orleans. However, even in the region, tens of thousands of traditional paczkis are sold, according to Theile.

“We make a yeast dough and then that has to proof. Then we roll it out and cut it, and then that has to proof. Then that dough gets fried, filled, powdered or sugared and then sold,” Theile said.

Many students enjoy the indulgences of Fat Tuesday and share the sweets with their families.

“We buy a bunch of batter for brownies and cookies, and then we make it. That’s the best part, making it with my mom. My mom usually goes and gets donuts and some candy. We all just eat a lot,” AnnMarie Hemmerling (10) said.

Fat Tuesday and paczkis only come around once a year, so splurging on sweets is something some students like about the day.

“We celebrate Fat Tuesday because during Lent we give up things that we would eat or drink on a regular basis, like pop, ice cream and candy. We can’t indulge in those things during that whole time, so we just do a last minute ‘hey, this is my last time for this,’” Hemmerling said.