Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday … for many Michiganders they are all Paczki Day, and a busy time for the Polish bakeries in Hamtramck, famous for paczki. To serve the paczki appetite of Northern Michigan, Neal Kokowicz, proprietor of Market 22 in Maple City, heads south on a pilgrimage to procure paczki from the New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck. Last year he brought back 300 paczki special orders and a couple dozen to sell at Market 22. He was sold out in 2 hours.

This year Kokowicz hopes to have enough paczki to last the whole day, but if you want to make sure you get a box of Hamtramck paczki, you’d better order in advance by calling (231) 228-MI22 or stop in Market 22, 497 East Harbor Highway, located on M-22 on the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula.

This year, Kokowicz would like to have all the paczki orders in by Tuesday, February 10th—you might be able to add on an order on Wednesday morning. Orders will be available for pick up on Tuesday, February 17, 2015.

Flavors include:
•    Raspberry
•    Lemon
•    Custard
•    Buttercream
•    Prune
•    Chocolate Hazelnut

The paczek was a recipe to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs, fruit and such before Lenten fasting begins on Ash Wednesday, a Christian practice which didn’t allow the consumption of such things during the 40 days of Lent. Christians and especially Catholics, celebrating Lent world-wide developed recipes to use up the lard and sugar before the fasting started like pancakes, king cakes and fry cakes. The Polish tradition, the paczki came to Michigan with the Polish immigrants who settled in Hamtramck, a suburb of Detroit, to work in the Dodge plant in the 1920s. They eventually moved to Cedar City, in Solon Northern Michigan, buying land through the Homestead Act. (Cedar City is now Cedar, Michigan.)

Devotion to paczki reaches throughout all of Detroit, as well as Northern Michigan. Neal’s staff reports that Hamtramck is overrun with devotees of the original Polish Paczki. Last year, they had trouble finding parking and had to tote the precious cargo several blocks through the snow from the bakery to the truck. This year, they’ve made special arrangements for pick up to streamline the Northern Michigan connection to paczki.