Bugs are becoming popular offerings at state fairs, including in Arizona. To go along with some other creepy-crawly bites, the Arizona State Fair has deep-fried scorpions. You can get them plain or dipped in chocolate.
Even though the name sounds a bit outlandish, pickle pops are surprisingly one of the few fair foods that won’t increase your waistline. Pickle pops, which you can try at the Kansas State Fair, are basically pickle-flavored ice pop. They are made from pickle juice, which has virtually zero calories. Even though they aren’t high in calories, they are just strange enough (and high enough in sodium) to make the list. Let’s face it, a state fair food that isn’t a heart attack waiting to happen, well that’s outrageous in-and-of itself.
Salad on a stick — it sounds a bit confusing, right? The concept is so befuddling that it had to make our list. After all, how do you get lettuce and all your other mix-ins like tomatoes, carrots, and croutons to stay put? And what about dressing? Well, at the state fair, most salad-on-a-stick recipes look more like a vegetable kebab with large pieces of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cheese put on a stick for your enjoyment. It made the Iowa State Fair’s list of extreme fair foods in 2008.
Add a bit of a porky taste to that sweet caramel apple by covering it in bacon. You can find these at most state fairs, including the Oklahoma State Fair. The concept is pretty simple, but very delicious. Take an apple on a stick, dip it in melted caramel, and sprinkle bacon on top. Bam, you’ve got a new treat.
It might not seem all that weird, but the shrimp corn dog is definitely something different from your typical fair food. If you visit the Iowa State Fair, instead of eating multiple corn dogs throughout the day, switch one of them out for shrimp on a stick dipped in corn dog batter. It will be a totally different taste and who knows, you might even like it more than a regular corn dog.
Bacon-wrapped foods are in no short supply at the Oklahoma State Fair. Though corn dogs might seem like typical fair food, wrapping them in bacon takes things to the next level. Whether the bacon is wrapped around the dog before going in the batter or after, you’ll have a taste of it with each bite.
You don’t hear about these kind of hot dogs everyday. While most hot dogs are made from — well, do you really want to know what hot dogs are made from? — the reindeer hot dogs are made of reindeer and are a crowd favorite at the Alaska State Fair, where the reindeer population is booming.
There’s a Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe at the Virginia State Fair. This dish features meat, Cheddar cheese, and two halves of a glazed donut. It might not be quite as famous as its cousin, the Krispy Kreme burger, but it is definitely part of the same family.
Let’s put pasta on a stick! Surprisingly, this actually works. The Minnesota State Fair created spaghetti and meatballs on a stick, and it is possibly one of the best dishes to ever be transformed into stick form. The meatballs and spaghetti are mashed into balls then dunked in garlic batter and, of course, deep-fried. Garnish with marinara sauce and pop it on a stick and you’re good to go.
The Mississippi State Fair introduced the Krispy Kreme Burger a few years ago and since then it has become hugely popular. It is made with a juicy beef patty that is sandwiched between two glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. Sweet and savory, this burger has it all.
Another crowd favorite at the Illinois State Fair is the "Tornado Potato." It might look like corn on the cob from a distance, but make no mistake, the thin spiral swirls of the "Tornado Potato" taste very different. This giant spiral-shaped french fry is a unique twist on your everyday fry, and as serving it on a stick makes it much easier to walk around with than a typical potato — consider it to be a practical invention.
We aren’t sure if "Comet Corn" is outrageous or just plain cool. Any vendor can pop popcorn and make it in different flavors. But this year at the Minnesota State Fair, the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater booth had popcorn that was anything but ordinary. This futuristic caramel corn is made with liquid nitrogen. It is ice-cold and leaves a trail of "comet dust" when you exhale out of your nose or mouth.
Chocolate-covered bacon became a state fair staple just a few years ago, in the height of the bacon crazy. Simply take bacon and dip it in melted chocolate — whichever kind you desire — and wait for it to set. You can get the salty and sweet treat at fairs across the country, from Minnesota to Texas.
The name might seem strange, but this state fair treat is quite popular at the Montana State Fair. "The Viking" is an oversized meatball that's dipped into a thick batter then deep-fried it until it's crispy and brown. And, like the majority of popular state fair food items, it is served on a stick.
Arizona created a dessert that’s not for the faint of heart. The mealworm-covered caramel apple looks exactly like it sounds — a caramel apple with worms stuck to it. Give it a try if you like to live life on the edge.
You’re killin’ me, Smalls! Imagine if Ham Porter knew about deep-fried s’mores! The concept is pretty simple. Take two graham crackers, put a couple of marshmallows and chocolate in between them, then slather some cake or pancake batter over them and throw them in the deep-fryer and violà! Try them at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Deep-fried bubblegum doesn’t actually have any bubblegum in it, because frying gum just doesn’t taste good and takes all the chewiness out of the gum. This dish is created by taking marshmallow extract and dipping it into pink bubblegum-flavored batter and frying the marshmallows until they are a pretty golden brown. Creator Justin Martinez won the Most Creative category in the 2011 Big Tex Choice Awards for the State Fair of Texas competition.
Most people have at least heard of cheese curds. SPAM curds? Probably not. This outrageous dish made the list because of the main ingredient: SPAM. It’s meat that carries a mystery with it that causes most people to shy away from tasting it. But, putting it into a deep-fried curd form apparently makes it more appealing. Besides, there is a good chance the grease will mask the taste of the "mostly ham" meat. If you’re daring enough, you can try to find them at the Minnesota State Fair, where SPAM is already a popular treat.
That’s right, liquid nitrogen makes an appearance at the Kansas State Fair. It is often used in making ice cream because it allows ice cream makers to freeze their ice cream much faster than usual, and the faster ice cream is frozen, the smoother the texture. Nitro ice cream is like a cross between the smoothness of soft-serve ice cream and the dense flavor of custard. Though nitro ice cream is not exclusively a state fair food (many ice cream stores across the country make it) it is a unique and interesting take on the typical ice cream treats found at the fair.
What's so outrageous or insane about sliced filet mignon on bread, you ask? The reason "The Legend" made our list isn’t necessarily because of an outrageous portion size or calorie count. Instead, its sheer presence alone at a state fair is so out of place that it's as big a head-turner as the deep-fried monstrosities. Created by Steve Ebers (aka "Lobster Steve"), "The Legend" is filet mignon served on small slices of bread, a dainty, renouncement of everything state fair foods stand for, far fancier than anything else sold at state fairs. Try it, and other "fancy foods," at his booth at the New Jersey State Fair.
Tennessee’s "Deep-Fried Goo Goo Clusters" are legendary. Legendary. Since their inception in 1912, these marshmallow, caramel, peanut, and chocolate clusters have been a crowd favorite, and deep-frying them just makes them even better. They are so popular that the producer Standard Candy Co. is now selling them online, too.
Whoever figured out how to deep-fry a liquid should be worshipped in state fair circles. Kool-Aid balls look like donut holes and are made from a batter of flour, water, and Kool-Aid. That means you won’t have an actual liquid pour out when you take a bite, but you will get the flavor of the Kool-Aid. Try them at the state fairs across the country including in North Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, and Virginia.
Let’s all give a bit thanks to Texas for introducing us to the deep-fried Frito pie. The fair food world wouldn’t be the same without it. So what is it? Balls of cheese and chili rolled with corn chips, of course. Oh, and its all deep-fried. It originally debuted in 2010 at the State Fair of Texas.
New at the Minnesota State Fair this year are the Peanut Butter and Jelly Malts and Sundaes from Goertze’s. The malt features soft-serve ice cream blended with milk, malt powder, their homemade peanut butter sauce and grape jelly. The sundae also uses soft-serve ice cream and is covered in the homemade peanut butter sauce, laced with grape jelly and is finished with whipped cream and a peanut butter cookie.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like cookie dough? Sure, moms sometimes warn you against eating it raw, but the dough is just as good, if not better, than the actual cookie. Throwing some into a deep-fryer and then putting it on a stick with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar only makes cookie dough more enjoyable. It’s not going to help your waistline get any smaller, but an indulgent treat now and then at the State Fair of Louisiana is more than worth the calories.
Guests at the California State Fair can try a different type of ice cream — spaghetti ice cream to be exact. Unfortunately for all our spaghetti and meatball lovers out there, this dish doesn’t taste the same. Instead, Anthony Cardinali of Cardinali Sweet Treats puts the ice cream through a press to create the noodles. Strawberry ice cream takes the place of marinara sauce while white chocolate shavings create the Parmesan cheese look. It's spaghetti al pomodoro in appearance, at least.
What goes together better than bacon and cinnamon rolls? It’s like putting together two of our most favorite breakfast foods into one. You can try different versions at a number of state fairs including the Texas and North Carolina. While some vendors sprinkle bacon over the cinnamon roll, others wrap the bacon inside. Which would you prefer?
That’s right, bugs and creepy critters are no longer contained to that strange lollipop phenomenon. It is now possible to get a Maggot Melt Sandwich at the Arizona State Fair. This outrageous fair item contains American cheese melted on two hamburger buns and is topped with actual fly larvae. Delicious!
While eating a pig’s ear may not sound as appetizing as eating pretty much any other part of the pig, they’re actually delicious and crunchy when fried, and deep-fried pigs ears are extremely popular at many state fairs, including the Minnesota State Fair. The ears are cut to look like curly fries and are served with a chipotle glaze. So make sure you look twice if someone offers to share their "curly fries."
It had to make our list at some point. With all the gluttonous deep-fried foods found at the fairs, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an idea so outrageous it was sure to be wildly successful. Deep-fried butter is so popular that not one state fair can claim it as its own anymore. From Texas to Colorado and North Carolina, there is some form of deep-fried butter waiting to melt on a visitor’s tongue at fairs around the country.
Idaho is known for its potatoes, so it makes sense that a favorite at the Western Idaho Fair would highlight them. However, the name might deceive your taste buds because there is nothing "potato-y" about this ice cream except for its shape. What looks like a baked potato topped with sour cream is really just a ton of ice cream. The potato is made from vanilla ice cream and is rolled in cocoa to create the "skin." Whipped cream replaces the sour cream and it is finished with Oreo crumbs. It’s sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Take every kid's favorite sandwich and put it in a deep-fryer and you’ve got something magical. Making this dish isn’t too hard, either. If you can make a PB&J and have hot oil to fry it in, you could try making this at home. Just remember to cut off the crust and crimp the edges together, otherwise it will get really messy, really fast. If you’re looking for them at the fair, try the Virginia State Fair.
Head down to the Florida State Fair to try Snap, Krackle, & Fluff on a Stick. If you’re confused as to what that is, don’t worry. The name leaves a lot of room for your imagination to take over. In reality, though, this treat is made from Rice Krispies treats that are dipped into batter and deep-fried. Sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, chocolate, marshmallows, and caramel bring everything together.
From the outside, these look like toasted ravioli. However, there isn’t any meat or cheese stuffed inside. Instead, you’ll find the taste of beer. There are different methods to frying beer, but a typical one used at the State Fair of Texas calls for beer to be placed in a pocket of pretzel-like dough that's then dipped in hot oil. To remain alcoholic, the dough is dipped in the oil for only about 20 seconds.
Visitors to the Delaware State Fair love scrapple. This unusual dish is made from the scraps of leftover pork combined with cornmeal, flour, and spices. Once the mixture is turned into a loaf, state fair vendors deep-fry it and hand it over to the customers. If there is one thing to be said about scrapple, it’s that it's a "no-scrap-left-behind" kind of treat.
Ready for something that is a combination of two things that don’t seem to go together? Introducing the taco cheesecake. It sounds crazy, but the Wisconsin State Fair found a way to make it work. Before it hits the deep-fryer, a tortilla shell is stuffed with cream cheese. After coming out of the fryer it’s topped with cinnamon sugar and whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate, strawberry, or caramel sauce.
The pancake burger is like a mobile version of brunch. Similar to a donut burger and available at the Nebraska State Fair, the pancake burger features a burger, topped with your choice of condiments (like cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.) and squished in between two pancakes. And yes, adding syrup is an option.
As if cheeseburgers weren’t already greasy and fatty enough, let’s add some deep-fried ice cream to the mix. This fair food item found at the Florida State Fair is by far one of the highest in calories and not at all nutritious, though if you’re sneaky you could argue that it includes all food groups. (Tomatoes are a fruit, right?) It hits the top of our list for its originality, portion size, and of course, high calorie count.