CHICAGO (CBS) — Bakeries across Chicago were busier than usual Tuesday morning, as thousands lined up to buy paczki to help celebrate Mardi Gras.
The stuffed Polish pastries are a popular indulgence for many Catholics before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
People come from all over Chicago to get paczki from Bridgeport Bakery at 29th and Archer.
One customer left Tuesday morning with about 40 dozen packed in a car.
Christina Arnold took an Uber from Hyde Park to get what she says are the best pastries in town. She picked up 27 to share with her neighbors and family friends.
“It’s the last day you can actually have sugar before the start of Lent tomorrow,” she said.
Bridgeport Bakery sells about 19 different flavors of paczki, and expects to sell about 33,000 before Ash Wednesday, or approximately 11 million calories all told. Owner Ron Pavelka said he never expected his customers to get so crazy for paczki when he opened the store 44 years ago.
“When we first started out, it was a couple cans full, and we were happy to sell those. Now, it’s probably the biggest holiday we have,” he said. “Basically, we cannot make enough. We will sell out today.”
The store normally has three or four people working at any given time, but on Mardi Gras, the bakery has 16 to 18 people making and selling paczki.
“We like to make them, and everybody’s having a good time,” he said.