There's something magical about a state fair. Maybe it's the fact that it only happens for a limited amount of time each year, and the vendors are always changing and offering exclusive items that can't be bought any other time of the year, so it feels like a truly special experience every time.
There are also a lot of stereotypes about the food selection at a state fair, mostly about how everything will be some wacky, deep-fried monstrosity that no one should even entertain the idea of eating any other time of the year. That stereotype isn't exactly untrue, but it doesn't give proper attention to the truly awesome and innovative things that can be sampled at your local state fair.
This list will encompass the good and the bad to give fair foods a fair shot.
10 Awesome: Flaming Hot Cheetos And Cheese Fries
French fries are delicious, especially shoe string style ones that have been deep-fried to be perfectly golden, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Adding cheese sauce to them kicks them up a notch, but heaping the whole thing with Flaming Hot Cheetos? That knocks it out of the park!
Anyone who loves spicy, cheesy, salty, crunchy snacks will be head over heels in love with this dish. It was available at the Arizona State Fair in 2017, but it'd probably be pretty easy to make for yourself at home!
9 Weird: Deep-Fried Butter
When it comes to deep-frying things, it seems like people get so caught up in wondering if they can that they forget all about wondering if they should. Deep-fried butter is a prime example of something that probably should not exist. It doesn't even sound appetizing.
It's a pretty straight forward "dish" that consists of a stick of butter that's been skewered, battered up, and deep fried. It's a wet, messy food because the butter obviously melts when it's introduced to the heat, and there simply isn't enough bread to soak all of it up.
This popular gimmick can be found at state fairs all around the country.
8 Awesome: Cotton Candy Ice Cream Sandwich
Cotton candy and ice cream are both staple foods for any good carnival or fair. What could possibly make them better? Combining them, of course! Chicken Charlie's has a bit of a reputation for always turning out unusual and unexpected treats, usually involving ice cream, chicken, and a donut. Sometimes they're good and sometimes they're bad, but this one is really, really good.
This frozen treat consists of two layers compressed cotton candy, one pink and one blue, with vanilla ice cream in the middle. It comes with a garnish of fruity pebbles.
This has been available at a couple of different fairs, including the LA County fair in 2017 and the San Diego County Fair in 2018. Keep an eye out at any Chicken Charlie's!
7 Weird: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sausage
The meat of the sausage has been blended with peanut butter and cherry jelly, and seasoned with cilantro and cayenne pepper, giving it a little bit of a zesty kick.
The combination of meat and fruit isn't unusual or even unpleasant. Perhaps the downfall of this dish is in the peanut butter, or at least the mention of it in the name. "Peanut butter and jelly" sparks memories of soft, sweet sandwiches, not a quarter-pound sausage.
This was available at the Minnesota State Fair in 2018, but it doesn't appear to be on the menu for 2019, though there's plenty of other interesting options.
6 Awesome: Pork Barbecue Split
Banana splits are officially a thing of the past for all of the savory food lovers out there. Creatively arranged like the popular ice cream sundae, this dish consists of one scoop of macaroni and cheese, one scoop of coleslaw, and of course, the star of the show, one scoop of pulled pork barbecue. There's even a pickle on the side to replace the banana, and the whole dish is garnished with a good amount of chives.
This delicious dish will be available at the 2019 Indiana State Fair from Indiana Pork Producers.
5 Weird: Kool-Aid Pickles
Pickles are fine and Kool-Aid is fine, but putting the two together is an abomination. Maybe that's a little too strong, because according to some people who have actually tried them, they're actually pretty decent, but it's hard to imagine that there's much to be enjoyed here.
The snack is simple and to the point: a pickle made in a brine that had been mixed with Kool-Aid. The result is a red, cherry-flavored pickle that just doesn't look very appetizing.
It was available at the Orange County Fair in 2015.
4 Awesome: Pepperoni Chips
Pepperoni have to be one of the most versatile things in the world. They're amazing on pizza, nachos, and even by themselves, eaten straight out of a bag that's still cold from being in the refrigerator at 2 AM in your pajamas.
This dish takes thinly sliced pepperoni and fries them up to a chip-like consistency. They're crunchy, salty, and probably just as addictive as regular pepperoni. To make things even better, the dish is paired up with a serving of warm roasted red pepper queso to dip your pepperoni chips in. It's sort of like a deconstructed pizza.
This was available at the Minnesota State Fair in 2018, but it hasn't been announced for the 2019 menu (yet!)
3 Weird: Rocky Mountain Oysters
The name of this deep-fried dish is a little bit misleading, because there are no oysters involved in the making at all. The meat is actually from the intimate parts of a bull, which have been battered up and deep-fried.
There are entire festivals dedicated to the consumption of these types of body parts, so it's not exactly ground-breaking that they would be served at a state fair, but it's not something that's particularly appetizing either.
These are from the Wisconsin State Fair, but there's a decent chance that a lot of state fairs will offer something similar, if you're really interested in giving it a shot.
2 Awesome: Chocolate Pasta
Chicken Charlie's is a visionary when it comes to making delicious things even better. For example, pasta is already great. The only way to even slightly improve it would be to make it chocolate-flavored... which is exactly what they've done.
The chocolate-flavored pasta is tossed in a hazel nut spread and chocolate sauce, then served in a red waffle cone bowl. It's topped with whipped cream and fresh chopped strawberries, then garnished with fresh mint.
It's a far cry from a traditional pasta dish, but it sounds incredible. It was available at the San Diego County Fair in 2018.
1 Weird: Deep-Fried Bubblegum
Its cute appearance makes it somewhat tempting, and it even picked up the "Most Creative" title in the Big Tex Choice Awards at the Texas State Fair in 2018, but something about this just doesn't feel right. Bubblegum should be somewhere near butter on the list of things that don't belong in a deep-fryer.
To be fair, the name is a bit misleading, because it doesn't actually contain any gum. On the skewer are three bubblegum-flavored marshmallows coated in bubblegum-flavored batter, drizzled with bubblegum-flavored frosting. The only actual gum involved comes from the small pieces garnishing the dish.