The Skeptical Diner: State Fair Edition

Everyone yaks endlessly about the food at the State Fair, and I’m not about to spurn what is basically a local cottage industry. Let’s get some terms straight up front: a lot of the stuff sold and consumed at the fair is an atrocity committed against culinary norms. It’s poorly fried garbage made from cheap ingredients. That said, the sights and sounds of the midway and/or farm animals and/or charming canned home-style jams really provide a lot of atmosphere, and that goes a long way. So as you read the following evaluations, remember that my expectations were geared appropriately low while grazing for what seemed like 12 straight hours today.

So, minus any purple prose and rhapsodic wanking, here’s some news you can use from the fair.

ITEM: Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar Cookies

SUMMARY: One of the fair’s perennial stalwart offerings, these small, thin warm chocolate chip cookies are comforting in their straightforward nature. $13 buys a bucket, which turns out to be enough for five fairgoers … and five of their friends. A good buy, so long as you don’t rupture your stomach.


ITEM: Belgian Waffle on a Stick

SUMMARY: A great concept executed by penny-pinching savages. A ribbed shaft of foamy “waffle” arrives coated in low-quality chocolate and then topped with whipped topping and some sprinkles. This thing could really use chocolate with more backbone or a waffle with more… well, waffley-ness… or real whipped cream… at any rate, not all that good, and guaranteed to make you stagger toward the nearest exit.


ITEM: $1 All-You-Can-Drink Milk


SUMMARY: How can you resist milk from a pipe? Answer: you cannot. Rapid turnover means that you can very easily slam two or three cups of this stuff before the lactose starts to remind you that dairy can be challenging. Still, not the milk’s fault. The price is right, and the wholesomeness of the beverage perfectly complements its surroundings.


ITEM: 25 Cent Peach-Flavored Honey Stick

SUMMARY: Ya gotta love the honey stick, a wholesome, orally fascinating sweet treat that breaks neither the wallet nor the diet. The peach flavor brings peach up front, but packs a smooth honey aftertaste.


ITEM: 25 Cent Mango-Flavored honey Stick

SUMMARY: See above, but it’s worth mentioning that the mango top-note is a little more cloying and overwhelming than its peach colleague.


ITEM: The Apple Cider in the Apple Section of the Agriculture Thing

SUMMARY: You’d think it might be a little early for good apple cider, and, unfortunately, you’d be right. This stuff just tastes thin and unconvincing, although it’s not too horribly sweet, nor too tart and astringent.


ITEM: Fried Snickers Bar on a Stick

SUMMARY: A great idea in concept, but the insufficiently melted chocolate bar is overwhelmed by the bready coating. Sets up like a brick. Anything this horrible for you and your digestive tract really should taste a lot better.


ITEM: Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Tenderloin on a Stick

SUMMARY: The creators of this “on a stick” offering really rolled the dice. But the relatively moist turkey tenderloin clings tenaciously to its perch, and the bacon brings some much needed savory flavor to the party.


ITEM: Pork Chop on a Stick

SUMMARY: This is a pork chop on a stick. It’s… well, it’s fine. Kind of surreal, really. Worth the cash.


ITEM: Totino’s Pepperoni Pizza Stick

SUMMARY: A potential total bomb that defies your expectations. The marinara sauce within (and on the plate, as a dip) is sweet and tasty in a simple-minded way, and while the cheese and pepperoni are nothing to write home about, they manage to overwhelm their indifferent bready casings and ring out with lowbrow pizza goodness.


1 Comment so far

  1. Jason (unregistered) on August 28th, 2007 @ 8:47 am

    This is a great guide, James. Let me add the greatest Turkey Sandwich on Earth to your list. It’s $5, next to the all-you-can-drink milk booth. It’s the most delicious turkey I’ve ever had.

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