Paczki are popping up all over Champaign-Urbana
Where you can find this pre-Lenten delicacy
Take a look at the calendar and you might be surprised to see that Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the Lenten season, is coming up fast: February 17, 2021, to be exact.
Which reminds us that this is the time of year when people look for paczki. What are paczki? They are Polish pastries – similar to donuts – that “feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar.” (Thanks, Wikipedia. Also note that English speakers use “paczki” for both singular and plural pastries, because we’re efficient like that.)
Paczki dough is bursting with rich ingredients such as eggs, fats, and sugars; they are an especially delicious way to use up such ingredients before more austere menus take over Lenten tables. Whether they are consumed on “Fat Thursday” (Poland) or “Fat Tuesday” (here in the U.S., which embraces multiple Mardi Gras traditions), paczki are a delicious final hurrah before Ash Wednesday.
In areas with large Polish populations – especially Midwestern cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago – Fat Tuesday may even be called Paczki Day (this year, Tuesday, Feb. 16). As a bonus (because who doesn’t love bonus pastry?), paczki sometime make a reappearance in Illinois for Casimir Pulaski Day on the first Monday in March.
We asked our readers where they could find paczki in Champaign-Urbana. Here’s what they told us. Please note, call before heading out — it’s possible paczki might sell out or not be available when you go.
Carmella’s Creme, Champaign: “Carmella’s Creme of course! The most delicious paczki!” Carmella’s Creme is located on Springfield Avenue in Champaign, just east of Mattis.
Rick’s Bakery, Urbana: “Rick’s Bakery carries them (but I’m hoping they see this and make more because they are often almost out when I get them on the day, and now my “secret” is out).” 124 W. Main St.
The Dancing Dog Eatery and Juicery, Urbana: “Choose from custard, blueberry, strawberry, or rose filling.” They will have some extra for sale but it looks like they are mostly selling through pre-orders. Dancing Dog, 126 W. Main St. Note that their paczki are vegan.
“Meijer and Schnucks carry them – but WAY TOO EARLY and are typically not stocked on Fat Tuesday.” “Meijer – a lot of different kinds.”
Meijer: Champaign (North Prospect) and Urbana (Philo/Windsor Road) locations.
Schnucks: in Savoy (corner of Dunlap and Curtis Road); Champaign (Mattis and Church); and Urbana (Vine/Main Street). Possibly in Mahomet this year, too.
County Market: Champaign locations on Kirby/Duncan and in Campustown both sell paczki.
Other paczki sightings: Harvest Market and Sam’s Club (Champaign).
Not in 2021
The Zagloba Polish Club at the University of Illinois holds an annual paczki sale on the Quad, usually on the day before Mardi Gras. They bring in paczki from a Polish bakery in Chicago. They report that due to current COVID restrictions on student organizations, this year’s sale unfortunately cannot take place.
Where else have you found paczki? Be sure to email us to let us know.