ALLENTOWN, Pa. – ‘Round the clock preparations are underway across the Lehigh Valley.
From Nazareth to Allentown, people have their hands full making sure that a large number of fastnachts are packed and ready to go.
69 News stopped at Mary Ann Donut Kitchen in downtown Allentown, but before Fastnacht Day, no donuts were found.
From the signs people see outside the building to the shelves inside, it’s all about fastnachts. The workers have ditched their traditional donuts and replaced them with the Pennsylvania Dutch-style ones that people across the region have grown to know and love.
“Our biggest day of the year: Fastnacht,” said Mike O’Boyle, the store’s current owner.
When you walk in, not only can you buy a dozen – or as many as your heart desires – you can also get a taste of the tradition’s rich history from one of the previous owners.
“This is a tradition that goes back with the Pennsylvania Dutch over 100 years or more,” said Tom Thompson, who sold the business to O’Boyle.
It’s one that all three owners have attended since the doors opened in 1959, according to Thompson. Fastnacht is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
“In other societies, it’s called Shrove Tuesday. In New Orleans, it’s Mardi Gras day,” Thompson said. “40 days of fasting, and religiously, people would refrain from eating things like sugar and fat during the season of Lent.”
So Thompson says they would use it all before the fast!
“Thus, the origin of the Pennsylvania Dutch Fastnacht Day,” he added.
We couldn’t go back because the workers say they are drowning, but they guaranteed: they have their hands full, preparing what is expected to be 3,000 dozen or 36,000 fastnachts.
“We’ll quote the former owner, ‘We’ve got the A team, the B team and the C team here.’ We all need it. We certainly appreciate all the help,” added O’Boyle.
“One of the things that I find really encouraging and fun in a way: the people who work here love the day so much that we have a young woman who has a full-time job – she has her Masters in Business Administration – — but She takes a few days off to work here on Fastnacht because she likes it so much,” Thompson said with a smile.
Mary Ann Donut Kitchen has the simple, sugary, and energy donuts for sale. Walk-ins are welcome.
“We don’t use eggs. We don’t add any dairy products. I don’t make any nutritional claims and never have, but it really does taste good. That’s the claim,” laughed Thompson.
It’s a race against time for many businesses that sell fastnachts.
Doors open at Mary Ann Donut Kitchen bright and early Tuesday: 5 a.m. O’Boyle says he expects a line out the door soon.
Here is a list of other participating businesses.
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