By MEGAN BARRON
Cleaver Guest Writer
CLARE – With Fat Tuesday sneaking up early this year on Feb. 13, Cops and Doughnuts has been hard at work making and shipping orders for its infamous pączi (pronounced punch-kee or poonch-kee). The pączi is a Polish doughnut that has a deep-rooted cultural tradition surrounding Fat Tuesday. Each year as Ash Wednesday approached, the Polish mothers and grandmothers wanted to rid their kitchens of all sweets. They would traditionally fill these doughnuts with prunes, but if they had other jams or sweet fillings, such as raisins, they would fill the doughnuts with these items to get rid of them before Ash Wednesday.
Greg “Ryno” Rynearson, owner and partner of Cops and Doughnuts, gave a brief history of their work with the pastry.
“Over here in Michigan it caught on because of the Hamtramck area, there’s Polish bakeries down there, and that’s actually where we got our recipe from was the Hamtramck area,” he said. “We purchased the recipe back when we bought the bakery in 2009. We’re in our 15th year now of making them.
“We’ve increased sales gradually every year. It’s an entirely different beast. When we started, I think they usually planned about 1,800 of them for Fat Tuesday. We now have our location and three other precincts, we ship, and we have wholesale, and last year we did 44,000 of them.”
Their pączi has continued to increase in popularity over the years, and with the augmented demand Cops and Doughnuts began selling a limited supply prior to Fat Tuesday just a couple years ago.
“We used to just leave them for Fat Tuesday, but we’ve got a lot of people who wanted them, so we started putting a limited supply out on Feb. 1 at our Clare location,” Rynearson said. “We always ship the 4 weeks prior to Fat Tuesday.”
Cops and Doughnuts’ online ordering for pączis is turned on each year the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, and this year began shipping orders on Jan. 16.
“We’ve got repeat customers that as soon as we turn that on, usually within an hour we have orders coming in,” he said.
They have received orders and shipped to all 50 states as well as the D.C. area this year. Feb. 7 will be the last day to place orders, with Feb. 8 being the last day Cops and Doughnuts will be shipping pączi. All locations will be open Fat Tuesday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. and selling pączi for anyone who may have missed online orders with Fat Tuesday falling so early this year.
If you missed ordering and are not an absolutist with Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day this year, Cops and Doughnuts will be making a special chocolate covered strawberry pączi for the holiday. It also will give anyone who missed getting their pączi earlier in the year one last opportunity to indulge in the delectable pastry. The Clare location of Cop and Doughnuts is 521 N. McEwan St. in Clare.
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