Celebrating Paczki Day: A decadent treat before Lent

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 5:27 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 5:17 PM CST
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PULASKI, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s a day to enjoy one of those decadent Polish pastries known as paczki.

The Tuesday before Lent is Paczki Day in Northeast Wisconsin.

Action 2 News This Morning continued our yearly tradition with a visit to paczki powerhouse Smurawa’s Country Bakery in Pulaski. CLICK HERE to learn more about the store’s paczki history.

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For some people, the bakery is their first stop on Paczki Day every year.

“It’s become a tradition, I guess, to bring the paczki to work because I live in town here,” Matt Naumann of Pulaski said.

But still, every year brings a few first-timers. The curiosity and craving for an authentic Polish paczki means a road trip is well worth it for those who come from all over the state.

“I Googled all around the state and this one came up. They did 34,000 last year. I’m like, we’re taking a drive!” Vicky Zagorski from Mount Morris said.

Despite some lingering issues post-COVID and supply chain problems, the store is busy as ever and remains a local destination for paczki.

“It gets more difficult every year in order to ensure that you have what you need. You find yourself having to purchase the items months in advance. Before it used to be you could pre-order it whenever. Companies we used to work with are no longer in business,” owner Greg Smurawa said.

Still, the bakery, a staple in the Pulaski community surges on, with a focus on customer service and delivering paczki from a family recipe passed down for four generations.

“It makes you feel good that we are a destination. It makes you feel good that people respect what we’re doing. They respect the effort and quality,” Smurawa said.

And it’s something Smurawa and his employees strive to continue for years to come.

Their paczkis are so popular, people travel from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and from Illinois to get them.

So what’s in a paczki? Plenty of butter, sugar, and eggs. Fillings include fruit jams, custards, and French cremes.

“Paczki a Polish pastry that we have been making in our family for more than 90 years and 4 generations will be the main attraction on Paczki Day as it was last year when we served up more than 34,000 of these delicious pastries. Made with more enriched ingredients of butter, sugar and eggs, then filled with an abundance of fruit jams, custards, or French crèmes and lightly rolled in sugar. At our bakery, we say ‘It’s not just another jelly dough-nut,’” reads the Smurawa’s Country Bakery website.