Friday, July 15, 2011

Wacky State Fair Foods are On Their Way [and I get nauseated just looking at the photos]

Reading the local news at this morning, I came across the news article that is written every year at around this time…an article I LOVE to Loathe.

It’s the article that begins the announcement of the “wacky & weird” State Fair foods for this year. This article reaches the paper mid-July each year, without fail, and will be the 1st in a series of 3-4 articles on this topic. They are the articles that anticipate the booths that will have the forever-ly long lines, serving up crazy concoctions that look & sound like something some stoned college student with severe munchies cooked up after a night of partying. “Hey, I know what sounds like a good idea, lets fry Eggos in Captain Crunch & throw a fried chicken breast on it, man!

Now I’ve been to the Indiana State Fair almost every year since I moved to Indiana when I was 5 years old.  My dad & I usually make a father-daughter date out of it & have a grand old time (one of my favorite traditions).  We walk around & look at the different animals, scope out the old tractors, play a price-guessing game on the new, HUGE farm equipment, watch the Percheron & Clydesdale cart competitions…things like that.  And yes, we have our meals at the State Fair while we are there.  For our meals we do things like grab a pork chop sandwich at the Pork Producer’s Tent, or maybe get a rib eye Sandwich from the Beef Producer’s Tent.  We’re known to grab a simple meal early in the day of a Swiss cheese on rye grilled cheese sandwich & a COLD glass of milk from the Dairy Bar concession stand.  And, self-admittedly, the state fair is one of the few times each year that I cave & have a genuine, mystery-meat, nitrate-loaded hot dog, but I take it a step farther and get one that has been dipped in corn batter & fried to golden deliciousness.  Mmmm…corn dogs.

Photo courtesy of the Indiana State Fair

But rarely in my 20-something odd years of going to the State Fair have I tried the “state fair foods of the year.”  To me, they frequently sound either a) disgusting, b) like a heart attack on a paper plate, or c) too gimmicky to possibly be Any Good.  Combine that with long lines & ridiculous costs…you can count me out.  (Also—see my vent on Taste of Chicago…depending on the day at the state fair, the “perfect storm of misery” can occur there too).  

I can say that 2 years ago, my husband convinced me to try one of the Gimmicky Fair Foods—chocolate covered bacon.  I love chocolate, I love bacon…it wasn’t that difficult of a stretch to get me to try it.  It was “ok”…but I could have made it better at home by using crispy bacon & using a higher-quality chocolate as a base for the dip as opposed to the limp bacon & waxy bland chocolate used by the food vendor.  I definitely don’t think it was worth the $3-5 dollars we probably paid for it.  If you want a delicious bacon chocolate option, get a Mo’s dark chocolate bacon bar (oddly, the only place I have found them locally is Whole Foods.).  Want to talk about the best PMS food ever?—forget chocolate covered pretzels…go with the dark chocolate bacon bar.

So in my usual status of skepticism/sarcasm about these types of wacky fair foods…Grab your gall bladder and join me as I break down the first 5 announced “2011 Indiana State Fair Foods.”  All 5 items were created by concessionaires Dennis & Cheryl Reas of CorydonIN, who are the same people who brought the Krispy Cream Doughnut Burger to the Indiana State Fair last year.  

The first 5 announced “2011 Indiana State Fair Foods”
(Feel free to express or defend your position in the comments below…I’m open to wavering on my opinion about a couple of these)

1.  The Deep-Fried Klondike Bar

Photo courtesy of description: “The chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream is dipped in batter, then added to hot oil. Sprinkle on some powdered sugar, just in case it’s not sweet enough.”   

So deep-fried Snickers, Oreos, Reese’s cups, Twinkies, & cookie dough…those weren’t enough? We now have deep-fried Klondike bars?  Great.  The only positive I can see about this one, is that it might be the ultimate solution for avoiding little pieces of chocolate from flying off of a Klondike bar while you are eating it.  You know the plaques of chocolate that chip off, fall on your clothes & instantly melt, or fall on your off-white carpet & immediately mate with the carpet fibers?  Other than that, to me it sounds like a “Tempura Ice cream fiasco.”  You are going to get a super-melty slab of ice cream, coated in chocolate that is potentially runny/molten (because its meant to be consumed cold), covered in a doughy, most likely undercooked layer of batter that can’t reach a crispy, golden status without totally obliterating the ice cream slab underneath. To top it off, it looks like it comes on a stick.  No thanks, I’ll pass.

2.  The Chicken Eggo Sandwich

Photo courtesy of description: “It’s a chicken breast with a Cap’n Crunch cereal breading between two Eggo waffles.”

Ok…I get what they are going for here.  Chicken & Waffles are kind of a popular topic/dish in the part-time-foodie underworld right now.  I’m sure if you go to you can find several posts from across the country debating the merits of various Chicken & Waffle joints.  This dish is potentially riding on the coattails of that trend before it fizzles out completely (if it hasn’t already?). This dish also appeals to the kids through 35-year-olds that were raised on the ready-made, out of the box breakfast delights of Eggo & Cap’n Crunch. Of the 5 dishes, this is 1 of the 2 I could potentially debate would maybe be worth trying.  From the picture, it looks like they pulverize the Cap’n Crunch into a mostly fine dust for the breading, & potentially add some herbs & seasonings.  While Cap’n Crunch breading has definitely been done numerous times before (anyone else remember the chicken tenders at the Indianapolis Planet Hollywood when it existed?), if done correctly & blended with other flour/breadcrumbs to knock down the sweetness…it can be good.  What kind of worries me in this photo is the way the Eggos look.  Are those fried?  I never had Eggos out of the box growing up that looked like that.  Dubious…

3.  French Toast Hamburger

Photo courtesy of

Indy star description: “Toast gets the usual egg wash, plus a Cap’n Crunch breading, with a burger between slices. Add bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and other toppings for added taste.”

This is the 2nd of the 5 announced foods that I can see a little bit of merit.  Really, this sandwich has been done.  It’s a basically a Monte Cristo made with hamburger instead of ham.  The only difference is that they use the Cap’n Crunch batter (most likely out of the same pot as for #2 above) to give it a little crunch.  I’m guessing though, that instead of a griddle cooking, this toast gets tossed the deep fryer for a greasy finish too.  But overall, this one isn’t as scary to me…

4.  Deep Fried Kool-Aid

Photo courtesy of

Indy star description: “Deep-fried Kool-Aid looks like red hush puppies, but tastes like the cherry-flavored drink mix.”

Ok…this is just craziness.  Just call it a cherry Kool-Aid flavored doughnut or do what the supermarket does & call it a cherry doughnut.  If you want to call something “deep fried kool-aid,” institute molecular gastronomy & find a way to encapsulate it and give it a crispy breading.  It reminds me of the “deep fried butter” craze of last year (which I’m sure all of the local cardiologists loved).  I personally did not have deep fried butter, but by all reports it was just a fried doughnut with a super greasy doughy center.  That irritated me—if you are going to proclaim it as “deep fried butter”…find a way to make it hold up as the center.  Maybe freeze-dry, powder & pellet-ize it? 

Want something fun to do with Kool-Aid that you could feed a dozen people with for approximately the same cost of what one serving of this fair food might cost?  Mix a packet of kool-aid-- cherry, grape, whatever you want-- into home-made milkshakes.  Delicious…and you get calcium. Win-Win.

5.  Ice Cream Burger

Photo courtesy of

Indystar description: “From top to bottom, it’s a hamburger bun, Mexican ice cream coated with corn flakes and cinnamon, the sandwich toppings, a cheese-covered beef patty with the same coating, and another bun.”

And I thought the doughnut burger of last year was bad.  Back to the hypothetical college stoner conversation above, I’m pretty sure this conversation would go like this:  “Mmmm…you know what I bet is good?  Ice cream on a burger! Cheese is kind of like cream?—but lets put cheese on it too! Oooh…and let’s fry it! Dude—I think you’re on to something!”

Seriously.  When I first read “ice cream burger” before getting to the description & photograph, I thought—Aww, a playful twist on an ice cream sandwich that is reminiscent of a hamburger in structure & appearance.  Um no…they freaking put a scoop of ice cream on a fried cheese burger.  Blech.

Really…I don’t think I have to say anything for this one…it kind of speaks for it’s self.  I’m picturing an overly messy, overly greasy, muddled temperature, sickingly sweet burger that instantly makes you want to crawl under a rock somewhere & hide out of shame for eating it.  

What are your thoughts for these “culinary” offerings at the state fair this year?  I’d love to hear others’ opinions…

1 comment:

  1. Ugh... I almost quit reading at #3, but then I pulled myself together and told myself to finish. I'm with you, I would NEVER eat any of this stuff, but it is fascinating in a sick sort of way. And if frat boys don't come up with this stuff, then it must be pregnant women!