Winter is the king of holidays. From Christmas and Hanukkah to New Year’s to Valentine’s Day, celebrations span the length of the season.
But if you want to do it right, do not forget about Paczki Day.
The Polish-inspired tradition aligns with Fat Tuesday on March 1 and allows us to binge on goodie-filled pastries before the start of the Lenten season — or just because.
In the United States, Paczki Day can be a mad dash to grab the delightful treats before they are gone, and fortunately, the New Trier area is in a good spot to succeed in this mission.
Evanston’s Bennison’s Bakery, 1000 Davis St., is one of the top paczki producers in all of Chicagoland.
Owner Jory Downer is not sure how many paczkis (pronounced “pownch-keys”) Bennison’s produces each year. The number is high — in the thousands. “Several thousand,” he said.
A social media post from the bakery reads, “Feb.22: And so it begins, paczki production. The bakers bid their loved ones farewell and kiss their babies goodbye. It will be night and day for the next week. Order now, online or call the store.”
Bennison’s is accepting preorders through 6 p.m. Sunday evening, Feb. 27, and will also have paczkis available for in-person purchase on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 28 and March 1.
With mild temperatures expected Tuesday, March 1, Downer said his team may even set up a table outside with packages of paczkis ready to go.
“We put a lot of effort into it,” Downer said. ” … It’s tradition. Something we have always done. It is our biggest day of the year. The whole thing takes care of us, so we got to take care of it.”
Expect a line out of the door.
A few miles north, Deerfield Bakery is no paczki slouch, either, with 20 varieties of the pastry, ranging from classic raspberry and custard to banana cream and cookies and cream. You can order through the holiday.
If resident miss out on the big-bakery buy, local grocers The Grand Food Center in Winnetka and Glencoe ($5.99 for box of four) and Mariano’s in Northfield both offer paczkis out of their bakeries.
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