Long lines on Fat Tuesday morning at Bennison’s for their famous paczkis, the fruit-filled Polish pastries. Photo by Les Jacobson

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A warm, sunny day in February attracted a large, enthusiastic crowd to the corner of Davis St. and Maple Ave. for Bennison’s 11th Annual Paçzki Eating Contest on the Saturday ahead of Fat Tuesday, also known as Paçzki Day.

Eight two-person teams competed to see who could eat the most paçzki. Noam Hasak-Lowy and Jacob Vogel, both ETHS Juniors, won the contest by eating 23 of the popular Polish pastries. Pronounced PUNCH-kee in English, a paçzki is sort of like a donut, only better! The tasty, sugar-coated treat is deep-fried like a donut, but it is larger, rounder and fluffier than a donut. Sweet fillings such as custard or fruit make them irresistible to many.

Paçzki were originally served on the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in Western churches, to use up lard and eggs which were prohibited along with other luxuries, during the six weeks before Easter. Paçzki, which means “little package” in Polish, has become a favorite annual treat for people of many faiths and traditions.

Bennison’s owner Jory Downer estimated they sold about 16,000 paçzkis on Saturday, although there’s no way of knowing the exact amount. 

Except as noted, photos by Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.