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A bartender at Small’s selects a paczki from a large and very full box.
Paczki Bombs — paczki filled with vodka — are an annual tradition at Small’s in Hamtramck.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

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Inside Hamtramck’s All-Day Paczki Party

From long lines to boozy paczki bombs, the annual Fat Tuesday celebration is always a good time

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Metro Detroiters navigated slick and slushy streets, snow drifts, and impossibly long lines this year to partake in Hamtramck’s most biggest food party of the year — Paczki Day. The event, a Polish take on Fat Tuesday, generally involves feasting on dozens of plump and golden fried pastries filled with various creams and fruit flavors such as apple, strawberry, and prune, but thanks to the thriving bar scene in Hamtramck there’s also plenty of booze involved too.

At local bar and music venue Small’s, for example, Paczki Day means paczki bombs: fist-sized balls of fried dough and filling that the bartenders then infuse with flavored vodka. More than six dozen paczki were ordered in preparation for this year’s paczki bombs. They were served alongside a special collaboration beer between Small’s and Brew Detroit in Corktown called the Sto Lat Lager, named for the Polish birthday song. At the back of the bar, Small’s was slinging sausages and pierogi to soak up all the alcohol.

The party will last until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard explored the whole boozy, fried dough event at mid-day in Hamtramck. Take in the scene in the gallery below.

A line of people outside of New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck wraps around the block on Fat Tuesday 2018.
Lines wrapped around the corner from New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck with food truck Beignets To-Go waiting down the street.
Customers bundle up outside of New Palace Bakery on Fat Tuesday in Hamtramck.
Patrons wait in long lines in 18 degree weather for paczki from New Martha Washington Bakery in Hamtramck.
Even at noon the Paczki Day line extended outside and down the street for New Martha Washington Bakery.
Paczki are advertised for sale outside of Fresh Market (formerly Polish Market) in Hamtramck.
While local bakeries like New Martha Washington and New Palace offered fresh paczki, spots like Fresh Market also offered the Fat Tuesday pastries with shorter wait times.
Dozens of paczki boxes were stacked in the pastry case at Fresh Market.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
Paczki bombs are assembled behind the bar at Small’s in Hamtramck.
A box of small, jelly-filled paczki at smalls in Hamtramck.
Small’s ordered in dozens of paczki in preparation for its annual Paczki Day party.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
A bartender at Small’s selects a paczki from a large and very full box.
Each fist-sized pastry is filled with a choice of vodka for $5 a piece.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
This year’s booze options included vanilla, blueberry, and raspberry vodka.
The whole thing is topped off with a straw.
Customers snap shots with their paczki bombs at Small’s in Hamtramck.
People gathered inside for day drinking, Polish food, live music, and paczki bombs at Small’s in Hamtramck.
Customers relax at Small’s in Hamtramck during Paczki Day 2018.
Customers feast on sausages and pierogi at Small’s.
Patrons belly up at the bar at Small’s in Hamtramck.

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