FRANKLIN — It's Fat Tuesday and people across southeast Wisconsin lined up bright and early this morning to get their hands on a paczki.
There's no exact moment documented as the official beginning/invention of the paczki. But Jeff Kuderski, of the Polish Heritage Alliance, said they date all the way back to the Middle Ages.
Kuderski said, when referring to a single paczki, the correct pronunciation is POHN-check. He said the plural form of paczki is pronounced POHN-shkee.
Kuderski said, in Polish culture, paczki were typically baked just before Lent, so that people could use up the eggs, sugar, lard and other delicacies in their homes that they were not permitted to eat during the fast.
Polish immigrants eventually brought the tradition to the United States with them.
"People look at them and say, 'I remember when I made these with my grandmother, or with my great grandmother,' and it's a memory and a tradition they want to preserve," Kuderski said.
Kuderski said Papas Bakery prepares the Polish Heritage Alliance's special paczki every year, and the organization sells pre-ordered boxes from the Polish Center of Wisconsin in Franklin.
This year, he said the preorders amount to more than 8,000 paczki.