Paczki Day 2024: Crowds pack Chicago bakeries to pick up Polish donuts on Fat Tuesday

CHICAGO (WLS) — It’s Paczki Day at Weber’s Bakery and that means people are lined up bright and early on this Fat Tuesday to grab their delicious Polish donuts.

“Oh, it’s a tradition, I come every year it’s very exciting for me,” customer Michelle Jasunas said.

customers lined up at 3:15 a.m. even before the bakery opened just to get their hands on these tasty treats.

“Born and raised Filipino, love this Polish tradition,” customer Eddie Cruz said. “So here we are, so Chicago.”

Everything from strawberry, to apple cinnamon, custard and cream-filled.

“The thing that separates our Paczki from some of the other ones is definitely the amount of filling we put in,” Weber’s Bakery co-owner Rebecca Weber. “We really load them up.”

Rebecca Weber has been working at the bakery with her father since she was a kid and says she’s amazed each year how the tradition continues to grow.

“It’s been getting bigger though,” she said. “So I feel like when I was working here in high school, which would be like 20 years ago, it was big, but it wasn’t like this.”

“I drove in from Naperville,” customer Dennis Papiernik. “I come out here and pick up about 10 dozen every year to hand out to friends and family.”

“This has been my bakery since I’ve been a kid, so I drove 45 minutes and this is all going to be for work and my mom,” customer Sandy Memmis said. “I have to do it. I just have to.”

They’ve been mixing, filling and frying all week long to prepare for the hundreds of orders.

“I had to pick up some extras because I got phone calls from people last night, can you pick up one more for us?” Papiernik said.

“This is what grade school looks like,” customer Ruby Montano said. Kids carry backpacks, I carry Paczki.”

Montanto works at a nearby school and like so many here plans to bring the treat to work.

“So you know, something sweet for the kids. Right?” he said. “Hopefully this keeps them out of the nurse’s office.”

Fat Tuesday traditionally serves as a precursor to Lent. So people get to enjoy one last time before the strict season begins.

Best Chicago bakeries to get your pastries for Paczki Day

“They’re all excited about it, it’s fat Tuesday. Last day,” Jasunas said.

Weber’s Bakery will be open until 3 p.m. But they might sell out before then so you better hurry on over here to grab your paczki.

Weber’s Bakery opened up early Tuesday to celebrate Paczki Day and to accommodate the excited customers.

Some in the crowd lined up as early as 3:15 a.m. to get their hands on the Polish donuts.

Weber’s Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in Chicago and to prepare for what’s become a major food event for Chicagoans each year , they’ve been mixing and filling and frying dough all week long, nonstop.

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“We have been doing this as long as I can remember and it’s been getting bigger,” owner Rebecca Weber said. “I feel like when I was working here in high school, which would be like 20 years ago, it was big, but it wasn’t like this. We start selling them the Thursday before. There are even big that day, so it is just full speed ahead to today, which is the main day.”

They started offering Paczki on Thursday, but Tuesday is the big day they work for.

They’ve got an assortment of 13 flavors at Weber’s, like custard, jelly-filled, creme-filled, powdered sugar, strawberry.

Tuesday is traditionally known as Fat Tuesday.

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