In November, 1991, an optimistic businessman from Szczecin went to find the origin of a machine which he believed would make him rich. When he arrived in the place where the factory was located and started asking questions he was soon arrested by the KGB. To their surprise, the Polish visitor was not trying to get information about the cold war arms factory but he was interested in a machine for producing warm food for the military.
The cold war relic, during the 50s, was the newest Soviet technology. The fact that the machine still works today speaks to its impressive design. It mixes flour, water, yeast and salt. The dough rises and the machine fills and squeezes out the dough onto shelves which are then immersed in 200℃ (392℉) oil, where they are fried until golden brown like doughnuts. Finally the delicious Paszteciks are removed from the machine and served.
The machine is able to produce an impressive 800 pastries in one hour, or one every four seconds. That was the purpose of the invention of the marvelous machine. In case of war, or catastrophe, the machine was supposed to feed a small town or army, according to workers in the Ukrainian arms factory, who thanks to the city of Szczecin, are still producing these amazing machines.
The legend of the Pasztecik in Szczecin began in 1969. Szczecin co-op “Społem” received a two-ton machine from a soviet military surplus. Its factory label simply read “machine for preparing pastries”. And so the first polish fast food joint was born at a time when hot dogs and hamburgers were associated with spies in Poland. The ladies working at Społem improved the recipe of the dough and filling, which has been kept secret until today.
The first location was next to the now closed Kosmos theatre, a place where people of all ages came to be seen. The machine was displayed behind glass so people could observe the technology and people often stood staring as the machine cranked out pastries at the touch of a button. Pasztecik was an immediate hit with long lines of people waiting to enjoy the local specialty at all times of day.
The first machine, which arrived in Szczecin in 1969 is still purring like a kitten and can be admired at the Wojska Polskiego location, which has not changed since the 60s and retains a nostalgic soviet-era atmosphere. It’s unknown exactly how old the machine is and who it fed before it arrived in our city. That information remains a soviet state secret.
Over the years the fillings changed with the state of the economy in Poland. The late 70s and 80s were the most lean years when store shelves were empty and there was no flour available, let alone meat. At that time paszteciks were filled with eggs, cheese or whatever was available. After the fall of the soviet union, enterprising people traveled to Ukraine to try to broker a deal to import the secret machines to Szczecin. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the first attempts ended with interrogation sessions with the KGB. A few years later the arms factory, that was producing parts for ballistic missiles, was decommissioned. The next businessman from Szczecin decided to invite the Ukrainian factory director to Szczecin to show him the lines of people waiting to enjoy their pastries. By this time the factory workers were on the verge of losing their jobs and the new project was seen as a God send. They improved the design and sent the new streamlined machines, weighing only 850 kg (1874 lb) to Szczecin.
Today there are over twenty pasztecik locations in the Szczecin area. People enjoy hamburgers and fried chicken but pasztecik will never go away because people in Szczecin remember enjoying them when there was nothing else available.
On a personal note every time I came to Szczecin over the years, I couldn’t wait to eat this local specialty. I have been to many places in the world but Szczecin is the only place you can find something like this. Now when my brother comes with his family from California one of the places he always goes is Pasztecik.
I highly recommend for you to try this local “Szczecin Fast Food”.
ALSO SEE: PASZTECIK SHOP REVIEW
Awtomat do prigotowlenia pierożkow, by Adam Zadworny
Z Archiwum Sz. ISBN 8373017887 pgs 47-49