Fat Tuesday, February 28, 2017 is Paczki Day.
Paczki, traditional Polish pastries, are associated with using up all of the good ingredients in the house before Lent. They are like big jelly doughnuts -- but richer. In the past couple decades, Paczki Day has spread out from Hamtramck to become a tradition in Southeast Michigan.
The singular is paczek, but nobody ever says that. The pronunciation of the word is debated; locals are apt to say punch-key or poonch-key, though a more accurate Polish pronunciation can be heard here. If your keyboard allows it, the real spelling is pączki. Don't forget the little tail on the a, called an ogonek.
Where to get them
Real ones are imported from Hamtramck, the epicenter of area Polish culture.
Amadeus if you make prior arrangements.
Benny's Bakery in Saline makes 9 flavors. Raspberry, strawberry, lemon, blueberry, apple, custard, cream, chocolate cream, and prune. The tipping varies depending on the filling. They make over 6000 that day and they sell out fast.
Dexter Bakery is known for their paczki, especially if you are in Dexter, where the Dexter Bakery is well known in general for its donuts and other pastries.
Dimo's Deli & Donuts are also known for their high-volume paczki selling. Their Paczki are available filled with their standard donut fillings: custard, butter creme, apple, raspberry, blueberry and strawberry fillings.
Dom Bakeries rates highly among stores not focused on Eastern Europe.
Espresso Royale (State St.) carries Washtenaw Dairy paczki in several flavors.
Produce Station is importing them from Hamtramck's New Martha Washington Bakery for 2013. Available flavors include: raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, apple, lemon, prune, custard, chocolate bavarian cream, pineapple, and apricot. Pre-orders available.
Weber’s Inn bakery on Jackson Road bakes them fresh. Advance orders are suggested, but they do have some available for walk-ins too. Available flavors are chocolate, custard, blueberry, raspberry, prune and lemon paczki.
Washtenaw Dairy has them for pre-order, and was sold out of their non-reserved stock by 1030a in 2016.
Both the Zingerman's Bakehouse and Zingerman's Deli will have Pazckis on March 4, 2014 only. Pre-orders are strongly recommended. Raspberry, chocolate pudding, sweet ricotta cheese, rose hip jam, or lemon filled. Available on Fat Tuesday only. Quantities are very limited. Call to reserve yours 734-761-2095. $2.95 each or $30 dozen.
For a field trip to Hamtramck
If you are going to Hamtramck for Paczki Day, some bakeries to stake out at 5am include:
- New Martha Washington Bakery, 10335 Joseph Campau, (313)872-1988
- New Palace Bakery, 9833 Joseph Campau, (313)875-1334
- Polish Market, Joseph Campau (at Belmont), (313)365-3731
- New Deluxe Polish Bakery, 11920 Conant (at Eldridge) (313)892-8165 closed in 2011 
- Copernicus Deli in Ann Arbor is now closed in 2016.
- Paczki Day 2008 in Hamtramck with Mo Rocca for CBS Sunday Morning
Around the blogs
- Paczki pursuit: Polish treats big draw at Ann Arbor area bakeries, Ann Arbor News, February 2009
- Kitchen Chick discussion of Paczki Day, with a photo of Amadeus's paczki: http://www.kitchenchick.com/2005/02/paczki_day.html
- Kitchen Chick comes through again with an audio guide to pronounciation: http://www.kitchenchick.com/2008/02/paczki-day-tomo.html
- Chowhound has a 2007 thread on best Polish bakeries for paczki