Hamtramck — Metro Detroiters braved bitter cold temperatures and lined up in front of bakeries to buy the delights of dough and filling on Fat Tuesday.

Craig Brown, 64, was in a line outside of the New Martha Washington Bakery on Joseph Campau in Hamtramck about 7:15 a.m. to pick some paczki up for family members. He said he drove all the way from Grand Blanc.

“It’s a family tradition,” said the retired restaurant manage,r who was among the throngs of Metro Detroiters who descended on bakeries in the city in pursuit of paczki, the traditional sweet treat for the day before Lent begins. Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter when many Christians give up indulgences, such as sweets.

Brown said he’s been coming to Hamtramck ever since he can remember.

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“I always get an assortment, but my favorite is the custard.”

The cold didn’t seem to phase him at all. He had his coat open and didn’t have on a hat.

“I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life,” he said. “You get used to it.”

Pronounced either poonch-key, punch-key, or pawnch-key, they filled deep-fried dough packs a caloric punch. A single pastry, or paczek, weighs about 5 ounces. Depending on the filling, it can have 400-600 calories.

Traditional fillings include apple, pineapple, raisin, apricot, lemon, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and plum.   

MoreWhere to find vegan paczki, Nutella paczki, paczki beer and more on Fat Tuesday

Down the street, there was another line for paczki in front of the New Palace Bakery. The line snaked along Joseph Campau and down Yeman Street.

Steve Martinez, 31, of Detroit was there a little after 7 a.m., waiting for his turn to enjoy some of the treats.

“I just moved here from Utah and this is my first time getting some.”

He said he had heard about paczki on Fat Tuesday in Detroit from friends and co-workers. “I thought I’d come see for myself what it’s all about.” He also said they told him the New Palace was the place to go.

Martinez, a sales manager, said he was going to buy a couple of dozen for his staff.

“Maybe they can use a little Fat Tuesday energy.”

He said it was cold outside, but he dressed in layers to keep warm.

Ashley Robinson was in line with Martinez.

The 27-year-old from Chesterfield Township said coming to the bakery on Fat Tuesday is a tradition in her family.

“We always come to the New Palace every year. I usually get two or three dozen and an aunt gets two,” she said. “They’ll last a couple of days between our two families.”

Robinson said the ones with the apple and custard filling are big hits at her home.

She said she didn’t mind Tuesday’s frigid weather.

“It’s nothing to us,” she said. “All you can do is dress warm and be prepared.”
Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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