Pączki for Fat Tuesday: What is it, and how is it pronounced?

It’s a big debate: How does one pronounce “pączki,” a favorite Polish-American donut-dessert treat?

“Ponch-key.” Or is it “punch-key”? How about “punch-ek”?

According to a report from Michigan State University, “pączki” is the plural of paczek, which is pronounced “punch-ek.” And pączki is pronounced “punch-key.”

Does that settle it? Don’t ask Google — the search engine’s AI response tells us the pronunciation is “poonch-kee.”

No matter how it is pronounced, people seek it on Fat Tuesday, the day ahead of Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins and some Christians give up something they desire, such as sweet treats. It’s a day to use up food that might spoil through the 40 days of Lent.

Pączki came to the U.S. in the beginning of the 20th century by Polish immigrants. They are deep-fried pieces of dough shaped into flattened spheres and filled with fruit or cream fillings.

Pączki are usually covered with powdered sugar, icing or granulated sugar.

If you enter a local bakery unsure of how to pronounce pączki, ask for a Polish donut.

>> MORE: Where to find pączki in Dayton

Staff Writer Natalie Jones contributed to this report.

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