Here in the Detroit area, there’s a big Polish community, so Fat Tuesday is more often referred to as “Pączki Day” (pronounced “Poonch Key” and sometimes “Punch Key” here). Of course, this is true in many places. Growing up, I strongly associated one area of Detroit with Pączkis – Hamtramck, a city surrounded by Detroit on all sides. These days, the town still has some Polish population- but not the 90% it used to be in the early 70s. Back then I remember my Grandma going to Hamtramck specifically to get Pączkis from a certain bakery. These days, all around Detroit, many local bakeries have amazing Pączkis.
Here’s a nice little article from the Detroit Free Press “What Detoriters should know before eating Packzki” including where to get them here locally
Of course, if you’re unable to get an actual Pączki, a jelly doughnut will do. For many years now, I always think of the Van Beuren Tom & Jerry cartoon Doughnuts around Fat Tuesday.
It’s easily one of the racier Tom & Jerry cartoons. I think the Van Beuren Studio wasn’t necessarily trying for equal opportunity offensiveness, but they often succeed in a coarser. outrageous way than even the Fleischers. Doughnuts stands out for going little further than usual.. perhaps the enthusiasm for the subject matter made it easier to be a little looser in writing.
The cartoon is extreme right from the start; during the opening parade, there are horses with many more flies than you’d ever want around any food as well are both gay and Jewish caricatures. The prints of this short are usually edited, cutting out many of the sequences featuring both the Jewish Stereotypes as well as most of the shots featuring ‘Pansy Brand Cream Puffs’ with the usual gay stereotypes. A ‘Cheap Scotsman’ is seen a few minutes in trying to pass a wooden nickel. later, two of the male judges dance with each other, and have the usual limp wrists in the final shot.
Alcohol references are heavy too, from the ‘3.2 pretzels’ to the drunk sailor who throws a huge wrench in the works at the end of the cartoon. “Drink! Drink! Drink” is sung with gusto earn the beginning and end, making this short much more Beer than doughnuts.
This cartoon was released in July, 1933. A little more than three months before its release, in late March 1933, newly-elected president Franklin D. Roosevelt, in one of his first acts as president, legalized beer with an alcoholic content of 3.2 percent, a clear signal that the end of prohibition was near. I wasn’t until late in the year that Prohibition ‘officially’ ended, but clearly this cartoon is celebrating the new freedom. The one-legged sailor who wanders into the festivities must not have gotten the memo though- he’s still coveting his large jug of bathtub moonshine.
The essential Mark Kausler first showed me this film with many of it’s missing shots; he had meticulously pieced it together from several prints, and he has done with many rare films. His favorite gag (and mine too) involves a clever and somewhat outrageous gag featuring Matzo bread. What other 30s cartoons have Matzo bread in them? A rare, most likely complete print showed up years later with better overall quality, and that’s the copy that appears here. It’s featured on the ‘Complete Tom and Jerry’ Thunderbean DVD set.
Have a great week everyone, and don’t eat too many Pączkis!!