At this Windsor bakery, Shrove Tuesday is busier than any other day of the year
Blak's Bakery is opening at 6 a.m. — three hours earlier than usual — to accommodate the expected crowds for the Shrove Tuesday paczki rush.
"For us, paczki day is our single most busiest day of the year. It out beats Christmas Eve and Easter Saturday. It is our best day," owner Valarie Blak-Gill said in an interview on Friday.
Paczki are Polish-style filled doughnuts. They are particularly popular on Shrove Tuesday, when many indulge in treats ahead of the Christian observance of Lent.
At Blak's, preparation starts on Thursday. Family and friends step in to help out, and the staff goes from 11 people to around 30.
Despite the hectic pace, Blak-Gill says she loves it.
"It's so nice seeing so many people that you don't get a chance to see or talk to all year long, and yet everybody comes down because on Tuesday everybody wants to be Polish."
Among those waiting in line on Tuesday were River Schauber and Lauren Dobson, from Cintas.
"We picked up 13 dozen to feed the staff at both of our locations," Dobson said. "I think there's a great tradition behind it."
As for her favourite flavour, Dobson is partial to the custard-filled paczki. Schauber admitted to not minding any flavour.
"I'm not to picky,"Schauber said. "A surprise paczki is a good paczki."
While today there are many local bakeries offering the paczki — they're even available at supermarkets — it was Blak's Bakery on Langlois Avenue that introduced Windsor to the treat. It opened 105 years ago.
Blak-Gill says a fourth generation of her family, her daughter, son and a nephew, are now among the employees.
"It didn't get as popular as it is today until like the '80s, where people other than Polish people now know what paczkis are."