A bakery clerk at Mariano’s in Northfield, Genevieve Sirota called last year’s Paczki Day preparation “absolutely insane.”
The grocery store racked close to 700 paczkis, and Sirota and other bakery staff had to stay overnight to finish the job, she said.
Americans, specifically Chicagoans, love their paczkis, which are jelly-, cream- or fruit-filled doughnuts traditionally binged upon leading up to the Lenten season.
The U.S. tradition — which is to celebrate Paczki Day in sync with Fat Tuesday, this year on Feb. 16 — is a deviation from the Polish version, which is more commonly celebrated on Fat Thursday, the start of the final week preceding Lent, in order to indulge before the restrictions of the season.
American Paczki Day can be a mad dash to grab the delectable treats before a bakery sells out.
Many bakeries require preorders.
New Trier Township folks can go two ways to get their paczki fix nearby: local grocery stores or powerhouse bakeries just out of town.
The Grand Food Center, with locations in Winnetka and Glencoe, sells raspberry and blueberry paczki each year, and the aforementioned Mariano’s in Northfield sells prune, lemon, Bavarian cream and raspberry.
Deerfields Bakery has more than 20 varieties of paczki, from classics like custard and apricot to originals like birthday cake and peanut butter.
Bennison’s, a European-style bakery that opened in 1938, mostly sticks to traditional flavors, such as apple, prune and cheese, but kicks it up a notch with paczki filled with fresh strawberries, praline chocolate mousse and more, as well.
Order in advance, though. Bennison’s does not accept same-day orders on Monday or Tuesday, Feb. 15-16.
Usually, another big draw for the iconic Evanston bakery is its annual paczki-eating contest; however, the tradition has been canceled for 2021.
Bennison’s also sells king cakes, a New Orleans Mardi Gras staple that is an elaborate and colorful coffee cake baked with a fruit filling and, usually, a special gift inside.
Northfield’s Three Tarts Bakery also sells 6-inch king cakes.