Pennsylvania fried tradition puts the 'fat' in Fat Tuesday

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) -- Pennsylvania bakeries are putting the "fat" in the region's Fat Tuesday tradition, with the annual pre-Lenten fried treats called fasnachts.

It's Fasnacht Day for many central Pennsylvania communities. The doughnut-like fried cakes have been made by German settlers and their descendants for centuries on the day before fasting begins for Lent.

Ash Wednesday brings along with it an emphasis on plain foods, so the confection is a way for folks to use up all their lard and sugar before Lent.

Other cultures have similar sweet traditions the day before Lent. In parts of the U.S. with large Polish communities, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated with filled doughnuts called paczki. And it's Pancake Day in England.

Lines formed early at bakeries, especially in Pennsylvania Dutch counties like Lebanon and Lancaster.