What are paczki—and why are people from all over flocking to Yummies Donuts & BBQ in Venice to celebrate a day dedicated to them? Here’s the lowdown on these deep-fried treats and where to find them so you can satisfy your craving, just in time for Paczki Day on March 1. (You’re welcome.)

What are paczki?

To put it simply, paczki—pronounced "punch-key" or "ponch-key"—are the Polish equivalent of fried jelly donuts. (In case you’re wondering, paczki is plural. The singular form is paczek.) These deep-fried pockets of dough are filled with sweet, sticky goodness like cream, jam or custard, then topped with powdered sugar. A tradition hailing from Poland but celebrated by many in the U.S.—especially in the Midwest—paczki are traditionally eaten just before Mardi Gras, on Fat Tuesday—the final day to indulge before the Christian fast of Lent. This year's Fat Tuesday/Paczki Day falls on March 1.

“We’ve had people come from Fort Myers and Sebring,” says Karen Sayre Tines, co-owner of Yummies. “A lot of people plan their vacations around Paczki Day.”

Vanilla custard-filled paczki from Yummies

Vanilla custard-filled paczki from Yummies

Is paczek just a fancy word for jelly doughnuts?

Short answer: no. Think of the paczek as the jelly doughnut’s lavish cousin. While a good jelly doughnut is light and airy, a paczek is denser and more brioche-lik, thanks to more eggs in the dough.

“The dough is also packed with more spices," Tines explains. "Ours contains nutmeg and cinnamon.” The added spices create a deeper, richer flavor than that of an average doughnut.

Many paczki also contain another flavor element, like a splash of Polish vodka, a concept that Tines says Yummies plans to utilize this year with the help of Detroit City Distillery's Paczki Day vodka.

“We like to do cocktail donuts sometimes, so we’re going to try something new," she says. "It’s going to be a Paczki Day vodka paczki!” 

Where and when to buy paczki in the Sarasota area?

From this Thursday, Feb. 24 through March 1, the official Paczki Day, Yummies will be serving its scratch-made paczki, available with a variety of fillings. According to Tines, the fan favorites are black raspberry and custard. Other flavors include lemon, apple, chocolate and the traditional paczki filling—prune. Paczki will be available for purchase at the counter, but customers can also choose to place an order in advance by calling or emailing Yummies. The deadline for ordering in advance is Saturday, Feb. 26, at 2 p.m. 

Yummies Donuts & BBQ is located at 2001 S. Tamiami Trail. For more information visit Yummies’ website or Facebook page. To order paczki for pickup, call Yummies at (941) 493-7170 or send an email to [email protected].

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