Polish Food Store offers Fat Tuesday paczki tradition that keeps customers coming back

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Houstonians celebrate Mardi Gras with tasty Polish tradition
This Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, Houstonians visited the Polish Food Store in Spring Branch for its famous and flavorful paczkis.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Fat Tuesday, an annual tradition occurs at a Polish Food Store in Spring Branch as hundreds visit to get their hands on a special sweet treat.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Polish Food Store on Blalock Road started to offer paczkis with two flavors to its customers. This year, it offers 10 different types of paczkis.

"It's just like melting in your mouth," a customer said. "It's very delicious."

Polish Food Store owner Sharon Szpak said paczkis originated in Poland.

"Fat Tuesday for the Catholics, you have to give up all the glutenous things you would eat," Szpak explained.

Before giving the food up for the 40-day period of lent, Szpak said people in Poland enjoy a stuffed bakery item.

"It is a donut, but it's different from an American donut," Szpak said.

SEE ALSO: Mardi Gras: New Orleans' Carnival season marks Fat Tuesday with celebrities and pretend monarchs

Paczkis are stuffed with jam fillings. The Polish Food Store goes even further with creams.

"Everything is made by scratch," Szpak explained. "We have to weigh everything. Then, you start mixing. In the morning, everything is just done fresh here."

During the day, the line of customers wanting to buy paczkis wrapped around the store. One of those customers drove from Montgomery County.

"It's like 50 minutes," the customer said. "I'm from Michigan, where it's a big thing."

Normally, the desserts aren't made after Fat Tuesday. However, Szpak said paczkis are a Polish Food Store staple and can be found year-round.

They usually sell around 150 a day. On Fat Tuesday, the number sold is around 1,500.

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