Kowalski (Polish pronunciation: [kɔˈvalskʲi]; feminine: Kowalska, plural Kowalscy) is the second most common surname in Poland (140,471 people in 2009).[1] Kowalski translates to smith's son, as it is the patronymic form of the Polish equivalent of Smith, "Kowal" (see the Polish surname Kowal and the Ukrainian surname Koval). Several other surnames, such as Kowalczyk, Kowalewski, and Kowalewicz, are also derived from the word Kowal.

The name Jan Kowalski is the equivalent in both translation and popularity to John Smithson in English-speaking countries.[2]

"Kowalski Bratski" phenomenon

The "Kowalski Sausage" phenomenon, as it is popularly known, has made a major impact on the American meat packing industry.

A sizable number of Polish immigrants to the United States came in the 1960s and 1970s. Some came to pursue higher educations, but upon graduating with MBAs, engineering or other degrees could not find professional jobs or jobs that paid well. Many of them worked in blue collar jobs and saved up to buy undervalued or dilapidated sausage factories, turning them into businesses. As many as 60% of mid-sized sausage links and patties companies all over the US are owned by people of Polish origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Kowalski—a popular one among Polish immigrants.

According to the Polish American Sausage Association (P.A.S.A.), 50 percent of sausage makers in the United States are owned by people of Polish origin. A large immigrant population of educated Polish came in the 1960s and 1970s. These Kowalskis are known as founding fathers, having worked hard, saved, and then invested in the industry. Having a steady amount of income and savings, they called over their distant relatives and friends from the villages of Poland. Upon their arrival, these immigrants would already have financial assistance from the founding fathers and would be able to find employment with them until they could afford to start up their own businesses.

In popular culture, the Polish film Burial of a Potato satirizes the community's fascination with emigrating to the United States.

Kowalski surname in Polish voivodships

Kowalski is:

Notable people




  1. Ministry of Interior (Poland). Statystyka najpopularniejszych nazwisk występujących w Polsce in 2009 (The most popular surnames in Poland in 2009). Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  2. "Leading Polish churchman criticizes opposition's vetting proposals". PAP News Agency. Warsaw: BBC News. January 12, 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  3. "Roxanne (1987)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  4. Maslin, Janet. "Roxanne (1987)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
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