Stacia Kalinoski tries her first paczki
Dave Kaechele tries his first prune paczki
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - It's the doughiest, sugariest day of the year. You know what we're talking about. Fat Tuesday, which is better known as Paczki Day in our area.
But, even though I'm Polish, I had never heard of them.
I grew up in northern Minnesota, where there's a healthy population of Polish people, and the fish fry is a mainstay, but paczki are hard to come by.
I stopped into Sandy's on Fat Tuesday to try one.
Sandy's opened an hour earlier this year, at 4 a.m., and they had a steady crowd of people right from the beginning.
Owner Mike Hoezee says they expect to sell 18,000 to 19,000 paczki over the next two days.
Customers say it's become a tradition; many aren't Polish but say they were hooked the moment they tried one.
Lynn Strodtbeck, who's Norwegian, explained, "It is different. It's a little richer, probably not the best thing for you."
"I'd recommend any one of them, because it doesn't matter. They're all good," said Terry MacFall, who's Italian.
"I'm anti-prune. I'll tell you that right now, anti-prune. I just don't care for it. (My favorite is) probably apple or raspberry," said Mike Sochacki.
Sochacki is Polish and bucks the trend; Hoezee says prune is the most popular flavor among Polish customers. He goes through 900 pounds of prunes within two days.
Other areas of the country that will be selling paczki like hotcakes are Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Northern Illinois, and Northwest Indiana.
But across the country, people celebrate Fat Tuesday with their sugar and lard in different forms.
A city in Kansas celebrates "Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day" by eating the pancakes and racing the same measured course as a city in the UK, where the pancakes originiated. The other pancake day is "Fastnachts," celebrated by Germans in Pennsylvania.
Italians on the east coast traditionally eat a type of donut called "Fritelle," and of course down in New Orleans, the home of Mardi Gras, the "King Cake" reigns.
Traffic reporter Dave Kaechele also tried his first prune paczki on the Morning News. Watch all the video to see how that went.