Every Fat Tuesday, Chicagoans line up out the door of local bakeries and grocery stores to get paczkis. How did this pastry become a part of Chicago’s culture? Let’s dive in.
What is a Paczki?
For Fat Tuesday, most ethnic backgrounds have a go-to treat. For those of Polish heritage, it was a paczki. Paczkis are a fried dough pastry. It is typically filled with fruit, cheese, or custard. It is similar to a jelly filled donut but the dough of a paczki has a few different adjustments, most notably the yeast.
Paczkis are popular in the Midwest due to the large presence of Polish immigrants. Chicago itself has a massive Polish population, and massive doesn’t do it justice. Poland’s capital city, Warsaw, is the only city in the world that has a larger population of Polish people than Chicago. You read that right, it goes Warsaw, Chicago, and then every other city in Poland for cities with the most Polish people.
How to Participate
Back in the day, lots of families made these delicious delights at home with family recipes. Nowadays people don’t have as much time or interest in baking them at home, so they go to their local bakery and get some. They eat them at home or bring some into work to share. It is a great way to support small local business. See our list below of On Tap’s favorite places to get paczkis in the Chicagoland area. Also let us know if we are missing any!
Marz Brewery (also has Paczki beer)
South Suburbs / Northwest Indiana:
Paczkis are a delicacy and are absolutely worth enjoying on Fat Tuesday. As I mentioned above, it is also a great way to support these small local bakeries that are staples in the local communities. In a year where many of these businesses are struggling to stay afloat, this is a perfect day to kill two birds with one stone and get in on the pre-Lent tradition.