Millions of Americans across the country venture to their local state fairs each year to celebrate the culture of their home states. People flock to see their state’s abundant healthy livestock, participate in a variety of competitions, and listen and dance to live music. But what really makes visitors come back year after year is, of course, the food.
Funnel cakes, corn dogs, and cotton candy may have been the most popular fair food for decades, but fair-goers today have a new set of expectations when it comes to the foods they crave. They demand flavor, creativity, portability, and deep-fried goodness. States have worked hard to come up with dishes that reflect the local sensibility and fit these requirements, and The Daily Meal caught up with the organizers of these venerable fairs to see which foods are most popular.
Some fairs’ most popular foods are truly iconic and speak to the state’s culture. Nebraska, for example, is one of the largest beef-producing states, and not surprisingly, their most popular state fair food is beef. Wisconsin, the dairy state, has visitors coming back for their famous cream puff and $0.25 milk at the Milk House. Louisiana State Fair-goers can always expect their favorite dishes to be hot, spicy, and packed with Cajun flavor.
Other states wow guests with outrageous dishes and have visitors lining up to get a taste of something a bit wilder. The Oregon State Fair has a famous food called "Road Kill" and the Tennessee State Fair is known for their Deep-Fried Goo Goo Clusters. Indiana impresses guests with its spaghetti ice cream, and Arizona has people daring to eat a Maggot Melt sandwich.
Whether the most famous fair food is traditional, cultural, outrageous, or just plain deep-fried, fair-goers can expect it to be delicious. Check out the slideshow for a full rundown of this the 2012 state fairs’ most popular foods.