Most Popular State Fair Foods of 2012
The new, must-try food at the Alaska State Fair this year are the sandwiches from The Reuben Haus. The Reuben Haus, winner of the 2012 pre-fair food tasting competition, is serving up some killer Reuben sandwiches that blew the judges away. The shop's signature sandwich is made up of beer-braised sauerkraut, bacon, homemade Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, and thinly sliced corn beef on marbled rye, grilled to perfection. Order it with a side of mushrooms (well-seasoned and breaded in an amber-beer batter) or french fries (made of Yukon Gold potatoes with a kick of spicy seasoning).
Facebook/The Reuben Haus
Yes, you read that correctly. One of Arizona State Fair's food vendors is cooking up a maggot melt that consists of, well, real maggots. For $7, fair-goers can try their hand at the Fear Factor-style sandwich. The Maggot Melt is made up of melted American cheese on two toasted hamburger buns, topped with a sprinkling of crispy maggots. This is the latest creation from the wildly unusual vendor Jungle George, which serves other out-there dishes including Rocky Mountain oysters, chocolate-covered scorpions and crickets, and frogs legs and alligator meat on a stick. If you're not one to willingly snack on a couple crickets or maggots, however, seek out Arizona's own deep-fried watermelon, a deliciously refreshing fried treat.
In true caveman style, California went big this year, introducing a 24-ounce hunk of U.S. Prime beef called the Big Beef Rib. This massive delicacy is a slow-cooked, medium-rare chunk of meat served on the end of a 17-inch-long rib. Each rib was served for $16.75 and could be cooked to order if diners wanted something other than the recommended medium-rare. To kick off the Big Beef Rib debut, the California State Fair invited five local media personalities to contend in the timed Big Beef Rib Eat Off. It's a treat only a true carnivore can appreciate.
California State Fair
It just wouldn't be right if the Colorado State Fair didn't offer Rocky Mountain oysters. And although this dish is wacky and might not be an overwhelming fan favorite (considering the oysters are breaded and fried bull testicles), there are plenty of other tasty foods for those who are a little less adventurous. Fair-goers flock to the German Specialties stand, which serves some of the best pork chops on a stick and BBQ around.
Scrapple is an unusual food at the Delaware State Fair, but visitors love it, and hey, it's good for the environment. Scrapple is the leftover scraps of bacon and pork (no waste left behind!) combined with cornmeal, flour, and spices. The mixture is transformed into a loaf and is typically pan-fried, or in the case of this state fair, deep-fried, before serving.
At last year's fair, fans were wowed by Carousel Foods' juicy, bacon-stuffed ice cream cheeseburger, but this year owners Dennis and Cheryl Reas took it up a notch. In February 2012, Florida State Fair visitors got to taste the one of a kind Mac and Cheese Burger and Peanut Butter Bacon Burger. The Mac and Cheese Burger is a standard beef patty topped with bacon and a scoop of warm, melty macaroni and cheese. The Peanut Butter Bacon Burger is exactly what you'd expect too: a juicy beef patty topped with crispy bacon and a slathering of peanut butter.
The Georgia State Fair keeps it simple, offering traditional dishes like corn dogs, funnel cakes, and deep-fried everything. According to a State Fair spokesperson, of the fair foods offered, the much-loved funnel cakes take the prize.
Idaho's most popular dish might confuse your taste buds. The famous Idaho Ice Cream Potato looks just like a baked potato topped with sour cream, but really, it's a whole lot of ice cream. The body of the potato is vanilla ice cream, rolled in cocoa to imitate the potato's brown skin. And instead of sour cream, it's topped with a big heap of whipped cream and a sprinkling of Oreo crumbles.
Debuting at this year's Illinois State Fair is the Buca-Wich, a unique made-to-order sandwich that is the epitome of a walk-and-eat kind of food. The Buca-Wich is a 6-inch hoagie roll with your choice of filling stuffed into a grilled hole in the middle (buca means "hole" or "pit" in Italian.) Creators of the buca-wich have a handheld pole grill that allows them to toast the inside of a hoagie without cutting it open. Visitors can then choose to fill the hoagie with crawfish with peppers and onions, Italian sausage, Cajun steak, meatballs with red sauce, peanut butter and jelly, tuna salad, or chicken salad (or a combination of several fillings).
The award for Indianas Signature Food of 2012 goes to spaghetti ice cream. Online voters selected this dish to be this years winner, staying in line with the state fairs theme, Year of Dairy Cows. The contest required that vendors use dairy products in their culinary creations. Bob and Joanie Monroe, the masterminds behind this unique dish, created spaghetti ice cream by using spaghetti-shared gelato, strawberry tomato sauce, shaved white chocolate cheese, and chocolate meatballs. The dish looks surprisingly similar to the real Italian favorite, but is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth instead.
Indiana State Fair
You would imagine that Iowa's sprawling cornfields would make it the nation's largest producer of corn, but not many know that it is actually the number one pork producing state in the U.S. It is no wonder, then, that the Iowa State Fairs most popular food item is the corn dog and the pork chop on a stick. This year, one vendor is doubling the pork ration in offering a Double Bacon Corn Dog, which is a hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep fried, dipped in bacon bit enriched batter and deep-fried again to reach crispy, fried perfection.
Iowa State Fair
Unlike every other state's fair, Kansas doesn't serve corn dogs. Instead, they have Pronto Pups, the alternative to a corn dog that is, well, essentially the same thing as a corn dog. But because the Pronto Pup is a state fair delicacy, it feels more spectacular than the average corn dog and is absolutely a must-have. Another fair-goer favorite is the food made by the South Hutchinson Methodist Church, who has been cooking for the fair since 1948. Their most popular dishes are the homemade chicken and noodles and classic homemade pies.
The Kentucky State Fair vendors know the key to getting people amped up for the Kentucky Derby is through their stomachs. At this state's fair, visitors can order deep-ried Derby pie, a traditional bourbon pie (chocolate, pecans, bourbon, in a flaky pastry crust) dipped in funnel cake batter and fried to crispiness.
Facebook/Kentucky State Fair
It's no surprise that Louisiana natives like their food hot, spicy, and full of flavor. After all, the state is known for its uniquely seasoned foods and wild tastes. At the Louisiana State Fair, visitors can get their share of spice, starting with the Crawfish and Crab Boudin. This delicacy is a foot-long sausage stuffed with crabmeat, crawfish, rice, and spices, boiled and then smoked. For just $3 a pop, fair-goers can order a the "world's greatest stuffed pepper," which are bacon-wrapped smoked chicken and cheese stuffed jalapeños deep-fried to perfection. Finally, a dessert is offered with the same spicy kick. Louisiana's stand The Nut Shack serves Habanero Peanut Brittle, made up of hot caramelized cashews, peanuts, and pecans, and of course, that crazy spicy habanero that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
The Bangor State Fair, the largest fair held in Maine, is known for its creative spins on the average potato. And to promote their own agriculture, all potatoes used are grown and harvested in Maine. Bangor State Fair offers the Australian fry, which is a thinly sliced, battered, fried potato that is served alongside a variety of sauces. The Fair also offers the much-loved Texas Twister, an oversized spiral french fry on an 18-inch-long stick.
The Maryland State Fair's crabcakes are delicious and larger than life. Literally. Last year, the world record was set for a 253 pound crabcake made at the Maryland State Fair. This year, on September 1, the Fair is hoping to break their own record by creating an enormous 300-pound crabcake. Luckily, the giant crabcake will be broken down into 1,000 smaller crabcakes so fair-goers can have a little taste of Maryland history in the making.
The Massachusetts State Fair is unique in that it represents all six states of New England, and it is therefore known as the Big E. To satisfy the high expectations of not one but six surrounding states, Massachusetts stepped up their game in the food department. The most popular foods at the Big E are the Big E Cream Puff and the Craz-E Burger. The famous cream puff was invented when Ray and Dolores Billie traveled to Wisconsin, home of the nation's best cream puffs, to perfect the cream puff recipe. The Big E puff is the size of a Big Mac, filled with sweet, thick cream, and are made fresh daily at the Fair. Fans are known to take home the Big E Cream Puffs in boxes to enjoy once the fair is over. The Craz-E burger, introduced in 2009, was an instant success. This wacky burger is made up of a beef patty, American cheese, and crispy bacon sandwiched between two halves of a butter grilled glazed donut. How's that for a midday snack?
Many may think that Spam has seen its day, but visitors of the Minnesota State Fair have a whole new take on the canned, spiced ham. The Spam Burger tent serves the traditional Spam burger, made up of fried Spam on a bun, topped with cheese and/or pineapple. Guests can also order Spam curds (battered, deep-fried Spam and cheese nuggets), or the Spam breakfast sandwich, made up of none other than Spam, egg, and cheese.
Just a few years ago, the Mississippi State Fair introduced the legendary Krispy Kreme Burger, a juicy beef patty sandwiched between two glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. The treat made history, and now other states are serving their variation of Mississippi's favorite.
The Missouri State Fair-goers keep it simple. The most popular dishes each year in this state are Missouri pork from The Pork Place and Missouri Beef from The Beef House.
Missouri State Fair
Montana has its selection of strange fair food names (are cowpies real cow pies?) and the famous Viking on a Stick is among them. This popular fair treat can be found at the Sons of Norway stand, a vendor known for its deliciously unique Scandanavian food. The Viking looks like an oversized meatball. It's made by dipping a meatball on a stick into thick batter then deep-frying it until it becomes crispy, brown, and full.
One peek into the Nebraska State Fair and youd know it is one of the nations largest beef-producing states in the country. Each year, thousands of people flock to the Fair to get a taste of the states showcased beef selection. The iconic beef restaurant at NSF is Nebraska Cattlemens Beef Pit, an establishment that attracts more than 25,000 people in just 10 days. This 29-year-old shop serves up hearty beef dishes for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast, and is a Nebraska State Fair favorite. Topper Concessions hand-ground hamburgers have been another fan favorite for decades, as well as Lolos hamburgers and Hardenbrooks Polish dogs and burgers.
New Mexico is known for its rich Southwestern culture, so it is only feasible that this fair's most popular food incorporates those bold flavors and spices. According to the concessions manager, the most popular dishes at the New Mexico State Fair include the green chili corn dog, green chili cheeseburger, and Indian tacos, which is fried bread topped with ground beef, beans, lettuce, tomato, and red chili.
Facebook/New Mexico State Fair
It's not unusual to see hoards of North Carolina State Fair-goers carrying around giant turkey legs, gnawing on the juicy meat with glee. The carnivorous delicacy has a rich, smoky, salty flavor, and is a North Carolina crowd favorite. Another delicious item at the fair is the flavorful tilapia sandwich. Served up at the "Hot Fish" stand is the fish sandwich of a lifetime: a light, crisp-fried to order tilapia filet atop a plain bun with tartar sauce and Texas Pete Sauce. The fish is always fresh, full of flavor, and never greasy.
In a Food Frenzy competition, judges tasted almost a dozen new dishes to determine which item would become the North Dakota State Fair "best new food." Third place was awarded to the red velvet funnel cake and second place went to the Italian stallion dish (deep-fried meatballs on a stick). But the overall competition winner was was the Poutine from Walleye on a Stick. This award-winning dish is made up of a heap of french fries, topped with cheese curds and covered in gravy.
Flickr/Cody La Biere
The Ohio State Fair's most popular food item is the Deep-Fried Buckeye. This sweet treat is a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate, made to look like the buckeye, the nut produced by the state tree of Ohio, the buckeye tree. These candy buckeyes are lightly battered and then deep-fried, served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Ohio State Fair
Oklahoma's newest and most exciting food this year is Hilly's Master BLT Dog. This crazy hot dog starts with a frankfurter wrapped in bacon, then deep-fried to perfection, placed in a toasty bun and topped with the usual BLT and hot dog fixings. The fair also offers chili and cheese versions of this unique treat. If you're looking to top off your supreme hot dog with a sweet dessert, Aunt Edmoe's Cookies will be serving deep-fried cookie dough on a stick, and Grand Slam Grill will be offering a bourbon glazed bread pudding.
Hilly's Master BLT Dog
Every state has their version of an elephant ear. Some call it "beaver's tail," many refer to it as simply "fried dough." But Oregon takes it to the next level and calls their elephant ears "Road Kill." To keep in the theme, Oregon dresses the fried, flattened dough with colorful berry sauces and syrups to imitate oozing blood and guts. Yum.
Fried Snickers and Milky Ways can move on over, because Tennessee's legendary fried Goo Goo Clusters are here to stay. According to a Tennessee State Fair spokesperson, Goo Goo Clusters have been made in Nashville since 1912 and have been a crowd favorite since the day of their creation. Goo Goo clusters are balls of marshmallow, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate, deep-fried in special Goo Goo batter and lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Goo Goo fans are so in love with the candy that producer Standard Candy Co. now sells boxed versions online. While they're probably delicious, nothing beats the original hot, steaming, freshly fried Goo Goo cluster at the Tennessee State Fair.
The Texas State Fair is the self-proclaimed "Fried Food Capital of Texas." Each labor day, the Fair holds the Big Tex Choice Contest, a food competition that gives awards to the most creative and best tasting new foods. Last year, the winners included fried bubblegum and Buffalo chicken in a flapjack. Other contenders included deep-fried pineapple upside down cake, deep-fried Texas salsa, and fried autumn pie. With that kind of fried-food track record, we can only imagine what the fair will come up with this year...
Who would have guessed that Jell-O is the official state snack of Utah? In 2001, Governor Leavitt signed a document recognizing Jell-O as Utah's official snack. Since then, the state has been nicknamed the Jell-O belt, since Utah has been the highest consumer of Jell-O for years. So in lieu of popular demand, the Utah State Fair is introducing their version of the popular green Jell-O. No surprises here: this year the Utah State Fair will release a deep fried green Jell-O, in proper fair fashion.
Most state fairs have their wide selection of pork, beef, and chicken products, but rarely does lamb make an appearance. At the Washington State Fair, however, lamb burgers are among the most popular, and unique, foods. According to a Washington State Fair spokesperson, since the lamb burgers aren't served at very many places, visitors are dying to get a taste, and the burgers never disappoint.
Year after year, West Virginia's Cinn-Sational Cinnamon Rolls win the crowds' hearts and bellies. These enormous, sweet cinnamon rolls are baked from scratch and made fresh all day long, so every fair-goer can get a roll that's truly hot out of the oven. Each cinnamon roll comes out fluffy and warm with that heavenly cinnamony aroma and is topped with sweet, gooey glaze. It's not unusual for visitors to wait in long lines more than an hour to get their Cinn-Sational fix. It must be well worth the wait.
Most South Carolina State Fair visitors crave the classic funnel cake, candy apple, and corn dog. But some are a little more adventurous and will always seek out the fried mushrooms or famous Fiske french fries.
Flickr/Life in Focus
Scara's Italian Ice, made in New Jersey, is an all-time New Jersey crowd favorite. It is cold and fresh and makes the perfect refreshing treat after a long day of eating fried foods.
Facebook/Scara's Italian Ice
The Wyoming State Fair vendors dont go crazy like some at other state fairs do. They stick to the basics: corn dogs, cheesy fries, funnel cakes. An all-time fair-goer favorite is the Wyoming traditional grilled prime rib sandwiches.
Facebook/Wyoming State Fair
These little balls of heaven win over Arkansas State Fair visitors year after year. They're made of scoops of cream cheese infused with bacon bits, battered and deep-fried until crispy. Another all-time Arkansas favorite is the Reuben sandwich. Arkansas natives absolutely love these corned beef-sauerkraut sandwiches, and you can find the best of the best at the state fair.
Facebook/Arkansas State Fair
The Great New York State Fair's most famous (or infamous) food is the Gianelli sausage sandwich. The sandwich is loaded with rich, flavorful Gianelli sausage and topped with peppers, onions, and barbecue sauce. This sandwich is so good that the White House knows about it. In 2000, the Clintons posed for a photo with the sausage, and it's been a New York favorite ever since.
Wisconsin's most popular State Fair dish is none other than Wisconsin Baker's Association's Cream Puff. They sell a whopping 350,000 cream puffs each year. These cream puffs are made up of a scoopful of sweet cream sandwiched between two airy, doughy, puffy shells. The dairy state also sells an incredible amount of cheese curds and flavored milks. Herb Kohl's Milk House is the most popular milk barn serving cold 25-cent glasses of milk in a variety of flavors including banana, cherry vanilla, strawberry, and root beer.
Wisconsin State Fair
Connecticut might not have its own state fair, but the dozens of county fairs mean more food to go around. According to a Durham Fair spokesperson, visitors flock to the old fashioned, giant raised donuts stand. "There is always a long line their booth all day and night," she said. The Bethlehem Fair's most popular dish is the kielbasa and sauerkraut sandwich, where the slow-cooked, multi-ingredient sauerkraut is what makes this sandwich truly spectacular.
Ben & Jerry's might be Vermont's go-to ice cream brand, but when it comes to French fries, Roxie's at the Fair is the clear winner. Roxie's has been frying up crispy potatoes since 1937. For more than 70 years, Roxie's owners have hand cut the potatoes and cooked them the old fashioned way. According to Roxie's owner, her fries are the best because they're made with tender love and care." Good ol' TLC never fails.