HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (WXYZ) — It is a day known as Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or, in Polish communities, Paczki Day.
It is a holiday started as families devoured treats the day before the start of Lent, when Catholics fast for 40 days.
Some celebrate Paczki Day by eating one of the Polish treats. At the Polish Legion of American Veterans in Hamtramck, they turn the day into Paczki Party Day. They started their celebration with an intense paczki eating competition.
“My record in a single sitting for this contest was 23,” competition record holder Matthew Holowicki said.
That is right: He ate 23 paczki in 15 minutes at the annual Hamtramck competition. If you are thinking that can’t be good for you, Holowicki will say you are right.
“I decided to retire because my family said this contest was going to give me some issues,” Holowicki said.
He still celebrates by emceeing the event. He introduced 7 Actions News' Kim Russell to the reigning champion from last year’s competition.
“You get to keep this for a year,” Darien Worrell said as he pointed to the Paczki Cup trophy that is engraved with his winning number last year, 11.5 paczki. “You get to take this home and throw it off the back of the boat like the Red Wings do.”
The Paczki Cup resembles the NHL’s Stanley Cup.
Darien Worrell has been drinking beer out of the Paczki Cup as reigning champion for the last year and came to win again. Then he made the challenge.
“You going to get in?” he asked, inviting Russell to join. “You will have a blast.”
After numerous challenges, Russell accepted. The competition happened before a cheering, enthusiastic and fun crowd. She did not win.
Competitor Matthew Gino won, eating 11 Paczki in 15 minutes.
“Full. Very very full,” he said when asked how he felt winning this competition.
It is a tradition that may seem gluttonous. It might seem silly. But the camaraderie, competition, celebration of tradition and friends appears to bring joy to all who come to witness it.
Fasting starts on Wednesday.