The First SOTU on Paczki Day

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on a historic date – but will he acknowledge it in his speech tonight?

Going all the way back to George Washington, this will be the first State of the Union delivered on Paczki Day. Is it any coincidence this is happening now that we finally have a president from Chicago, where Paczki Day is observed more avidly than any city outside Poland (or Hamtramck, Mich.)?

As a Chicagoan, Obama should acknowledge that his hometown holds the Fattest Tuesday in America, either by teaching the rest of the country to pronounce paczki (there’s some dispute over whether its punch-key or poonch-key) or simply by eating paczki throughout his speech. He can also point out that a tray of the pastries is referred to as paczki, not paczkis, since paczki is the plural of paczek.

However, as a transplant to Chicago, a Protestant and a Hyde Parker, Obama may not be as steeped in the Paczki Day tradition as many local politicians. Nonetheless, it played an important role in his career. In 2008, the General Assembly moved the Illinois primary to Super Tuesday, to help Obama in his primary battle with Hillary Clinton. That Tuesday also happened to be Paczki Day. Obama fought Clinton to a draw, winning 13 primaries to her 10, proving he was a viable candidate. Obama’s Paczki Day momentum carried him all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where he accepted his party’s nomination.

In so many ways, Paczki Day is more important to Obama than to any other president. Let’s hear him acknowledge that.

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