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Yum, Fried Bubble Gum

Top 10 State Fair of Texas foods

TEXAS TRAVELER

Some go for the carnival-style attractions. Others go for the garden exhibition. Thousands go for the live musical entertainment. Many go for the shopping. But the truth of the matter is, all flock to the State Fair of Texas for the food.

In its more than 125 years of existence, the State Fair of Texas has built itself quite a reputation for its deep-fried-anything-on-a-stick — stick optional — food offerings. Because who doesn't like the sinful indulgence of deep-fried foods? The millions who attend the Dallas fairgrounds each year have proven that the crazy fried-food offerings tug at their heartstrings and resonate with their cravings. This year's fair will open September 28 and run through October 21.

Bubblegum — the new food group in the health pyramid.
Taryn Walker
Bubblegum — the new food group in the health pyramid.
Deep fried mac 'n' cheese sliders
Mike Mezeul
Deep fried mac 'n' cheese sliders

In the "anything-goes" fried-food playground, fair-goers find such foods as fried bacon cinnamon rolls, fried praline sweet potato poppers, fried jambalaya, apple fries, deep-fried strawberries, fried cake balls, fried Buffalo chicken in a flapjack, fried pineapple upside-down cake, deep-fried butter and Fried Beer™ (is that even food?). And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the fried-food selection.

There are literally hundreds of items to choose from. Last week, the Big Tex winners were announced: Fried jambalaya won Best Tasting and fried bacon cinnamon rolls won Most Creative.

While we're happy for the winners and all, we feel that two awards just don't recognize enough of the glorious fried foods found at the fair. Thus we bring to you the Top 10 State Fair of Texas foods:

10. Fried Stack of Taters

Listen, we know — fried potatoes are not anything innovative — they're not even close to innovative. But they're an all-American classic, and we're suckers for classic foods. Fried taters never fail to make situations better and happier. And more calorie-filled. Sprinkle them with a bit of salt, dip them in ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise — or garnish as you please. But don't even try to tell us that they don't deserve recognition for their undying goodness.

9. Deep-Fried Bubblegum

The edible properties of bubblegum are quite questionable, due to the fact that once you swallow gum, it stays in your intestines for seven years, or something like that. Which makes eating this candy ten times more fun than eating, say, a Jolly Rancher — that's just playing it safe. Eating deep-fried bubblegum is for the thousands of adventurous, kid-at-heart types, hidden under their grown-up disguises. Warning: If you like making bubbles the size of your face and then popping them, this feat may be a bit hard to accomplish with gum that's been fried.

8. Fried Juicy Lucy

For those who don't know, a Juicy Lucy is a hamburger with cheese in which the cheese is placed inside the hamburger patty rather than on top of the meat. In a word, Juicy Lucys are incredible. While adding good to already-established goodness is sometimes overkill, this is not the case here. Frying the patty is a simple way to upgrade a Juicy Lucy, as its frying requires some type of batter, and batter instantaneously ups the scrumptiousness factor in most dishes. Our mouths are watering just at the thought of this tasty creation, with its oozing cheese and slight crunch thanks to the batter.

7. Fried Gummy Worms

At some point during your childhood, you probably ate dirt and worms — both kinds, the real stuff produced by mother nature as well as the playful snack composed of chocolate pudding, gummy worms and crumbled Oreo toppings. At the State Fair of Texas, some genius thought of frying gummy worms to produce a snack that could easily be named "worms in a sand dune." Props should be given to the creator of this fun food — for originality and a high likability factor. We're thinking these would make excellent snacks for movie-watching.

6. Fried Watermelon

Doctor — what category does fried watermelon fall under in the food pyramid? Fruits and vegetables or fats, oils and sweets? What? What do you mean this fruit is unhealthy? We really gave it a shot to try to include a healthy option in this Top 10 list — hence the inclusion of fruit — but it looks like we failed miserably. Nevertheless, we still feel the least guilt in eating, looking at and thinking about this item just because it does include a fruit, unlike any of the aforementioned items, which come nowhere near anything that bears a close resemblance to "healthy." Either way, watermelon is always a crowd-pleaser.

5. Deep Fried Mac 'n' Cheese Sliders

Let us present you with a simple mathematical equation: fried macaroni and cheese + hamburger = excellence. It's simple math, folks. Take these two dishes — two of America's most delicious food items — and put them together; your end result will be nothing short of excellence. It's like a hamburger with cheese, on crack.

4. Fried Brownie

If you didn't lick your screen just now, you probably thought about it; these sweet little fritters are begging to be eaten. The sweet consistency of soft, doughy brownies enveloped in the loving embrace of batter and sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar is just an explosion of happiness waiting to happen. While brownies are typically considered a dessert, this dish may serve as a meal in and of itself.

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