October 8th is National Pierogi Day. A day to celebrate the Eastern European treat that has burrowed its way into the hearts of everyone in the “Pierogi Pocket” and beyond. But how did this amazing Polish food make its way to the US? And what — or where — is the “Pierogi Pocket”? Keep reading to find out!
Pierogi first made their way to the United States in the loving arms of Polish and other Central and Eastern European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century. What started as a staple food in immigrant kitchens quickly gained popularity. Soon pierogi restaurants — known as pierogarnia — began popping up everywhere, and a national obsession was born.
Traditionally, pierogi are dough dumplings boiled, then fried in butter and filled with potatoes, cheese, and/or sauerkraut. With the popularity of pierogi steadily on the rise, today you can find pierogi filled with just about anything, from prunes and onions to sweet versions containing lemon curd or apples. There’s even a kind of pierogi known as a “lazy pierogi” made from curd cheese, eggs and flour, cooked in lightly salted water and topped with whipped cream, sugar and cinnamon. This variety is simpler to make than regular pierogi — which can take almost two hours to prepare and cook — and are equally as delicious.
Pierogi or Pierogies?
The word “pierogi” is derived from the Slavic root word for “festival.” And no, you don’t say “pierogis” if there are more than one, the word pierogi is already plural. The singular form is “pierog” but — as any pierogi lover knows — you’re rarely eating just one to begin with!
In The Pocket
Pierogi are enjoyed all across the United States, but over 68% of annual US pierogi consumption occurs in an area that includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, Detroit, parts of the northern Midwest and southern New England. This area is known affectionately, as the “Pierogi Pocket”. Pittsburgh has even taken its love for pierogi to the next level, holding a pierogi festival and a pierogi race during every home Pirates game after the 5th inning. During this race, contestants with names like Sauerkraut Saul, Cheese Chester, Jalapeno Hannah, Oliver Onion and Bacon Burt compete for the ultimate pierogi prize.
Pierogi Records & Facts
Largest Pierogi Statue: 25-feet tall, 6000 pounds in Glendon, Alberta, Canada
Largest Edible Pierogi: 92 pounds
Most Pierogi Made: 1663 in 100 minutes
Patron Saint of Pierogi: Saint Hyacinth
Most Expensive Pierogi: $1,775. In 2005, a woman she saw the image of Jesus Christ in a pierogi she made. It later sold on eBay for $1,775!