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What's a bleenie? Marshall Keely gives the coal region treat a try

A fire company in Schuylkill County is frying up delicious treats once again. Newswatch 16's Marshall Keely got his first taste of a local staple.

SHENANDOAH, Pa. — Polish American Fire Company in Shenandoah is "Rocked the Block" Friday, returning to its annual event after a year off. 

Charles Vascavage has been a member for more than 50 years.

"Like every fire company, this is one of our biggest fundraisers, so to miss that and the camaraderie, it's not easy to take," Vascavage said.

On Friday, the Shenandoah community lined up around the building for fried food, including the most popular item -- bleenies. 

Al Matakonas picked up three dozen for his family.

"My mom doesn't have to wait in line for hers, I got some for my sisters and then for me and my kids at home," he said. "Different local firehouses cook some of the best bleenies you'll taste anywhere in Pennsylvania."

But what is a bleenie? 

It starts with sacks of potatoes that are divided into buckets and dropped into a peeling machine. After a few rotations, the now bald potatoes splash into a bin of water. 

Soon they're fed into a potato grater. Volunteers press the water out of the potatoes, making them easier to cook.

After you add in some eggs, flower and spices, the mixture is ready to hit the fryer and be served up to some patient customers.

John Keff has stood in line for more than an hour before, but insists it's well worth it.

"This is a treat to get one, because there's only a couple places a summer you can get them," Keff said.

"We've kept the recipe all these years and, how they say, the proof is in the pudding," Vascavage added.

Or in this case… the bleenie.