Wednesday, July 22

Fair Food 2009

It’s that marvelous, wonderful time of the year again – state and county fair time. The 4-H projects are turned in for judging, ribbons are distributed and displayed, rides are bolted together and, best of all, concession booths start selling fair food.
Fair Food Time!

Fair food is in a food group all its own and probably not on the nutritional food pyramid. Much of it started as real food, and then metamorphosed into junk food on steroids. Noir movie director Tim Burton couldn’t come up with the weird extremes which have been taken with once reasonably edible stuff. Nothing is too
far out, nothing is off limits, and anything healthy can, and will, be turned into the sinful delights we dream
about the rest of the year.

So what’s out there? The common pineapple whip ice cream, corn dogs and walking tacos have been upstaged by the truly weird. First, the Snickers candy bar was deep fried, then Oreos, then Twinkies...

OK, here’s the list of food gone crazy at the fairs which I have heard about, seen in person or actually eaten.
First, the kabob items, because at fairs, if the food item isn’t drowned in a vat of hot oil, it’s skewered, right?
Salad on a stick

Salad on a stick – someone figured out how to put lettuce on a skewer. Healthier, true, but where do the croutons fit into this picture? Pineapple spears, Carmellows, caramel-covered marshmallows, and cheesecake
wedges are now on sticks. The newest kabobs to hit the circuit are chocolate-covered peanut butter rounds, chocolate-covered Key Lime pie and frozen s’mores. The last item is, of course, drizzled with chocolate, caramel or other sweet toppings.

Pretzel rods are being dipped in chocolate or caramel, fish are in tacos and mashed-potato martinis are hitting the midway this year.

What’s being batter-dipped and deep-fried? Frog legs, banana pudding wraps and Pop Tarts. Hot dogs are now being wrapped in a zucchini skin, deep fried and called, what else, zucchini weenie. Say that three
times fast.
Deep-fried chocolate-covered strawberry

Chocolate-covered bacon is also deep fried now, as are Jelly Belly jelly beans, Spam, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese-filled sausages, Tootsie Rolls, alligator meat, Pepsi, Coke and, drum roll please, White Castle hamburgers. Yep, the little square guys are battered and oiled up for a fast-track heart attack.

The healthier fare being given the royal-oil treatment are strawberries, pineapple and bananas. Avocados, carrots and green beans have not entered the concession zone, as far as I know. However, there’s always next year.

If you have a favorite fair food, share it with me by emailing a note to Me, I will be right here, figuring out how to deep fry cotton candy.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer and theater critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and at Comments can be sent to