PULASKI (NBC 26) — Mardi Gras is a day of celebration, but in Northeast Wisconsin, it wouldn't be complete without a paczki... or two.
In Pulaski, Greg Smurawa and his family have been making around 14,000 paczkis on this day for over twenty years at Smurawa's Country Bakery. It was a family recipe that turned into something sweeter, and beloved by people across the country.
"We've shipped from Seattle, Washington to Manhattan, Florida, Texas, the UP, all across the country," said Greg Smurawa.
They start preparation for this day over two months in advance, and it's worth it; people start lining up around 5 in the morning to pick up some paczkis. This year, the entire bakery has been up since Sunday just getting ready for Paczki Day.
"We couldn't do it without family," said Smurawa. "I mean, I've got brothers and sisters here. And I've got people that have taken days off, to come in and work and help out in nature because they know the importance of it, or they've got the pride in what we're doing."
They sell every flavor imaginable, from the traditional prune and raspberry jam filled, to decadent red velvet, double chocolate and peanut butter.
Smurawa's realized fast how popular this polish pastry was, so the sales aren't limited to Fat Tuesday. They sell paczkis year-round. Despite supply and staffing shortages they suffered this year, like other businesses, people keep coming back every year, and Smurawa says it's not just for the product.
"They're getting somebody on the other side of the counter who's packing up their order and is doing their best to try and get them what they want, and greeting them and sending them on their way.”
One thing's for sure, this isn't your regular jelly doughnut, and Smurawa is proud to say they've never run out in 23 years.
"There's just something special about getting paczki," said Smurawa. "We always tell people it's like, if you're coming to work and you're late, you're not late if you bringing in paczki, ya know?"