This summer I'm heading back to the east coast. My "To Visit" list includes small-town diners, Civil War battlegrounds, and amusement parks. Knoebels Grove, Hershey Park, Six Flags: these were the beloved family vacation destinations of my youth. Even though I refused to get on a roller coaster until age 14, I loved them for their squeaky carousels, rickety water slides, and slightly suspect but nevertheless delicious snacks. Here are my five favorite amusement park foods.
5. DippinDots. Texture, not flavor, was and is the basis of my attraction to this treat. As a child, I never questioned why "The Ice Cream of the Future" had its debut in central Pennsylvania, and today I still enjoy the novelty of consuming hundreds of frozen beads of cookies and cream.
4. Funnel Cake. A light dusting of powdered sugar and a large dollop of faux strawberry topping is how I like to eat my funnel cake. On particularly hoggish days, I might top it off with a scoop of vanilla, though with the addition of ice cream one sacrifices fried crisp in favor of sweet dairy-drenched dough. Sigh.
3. Giant Turkey Legs. It took me almost 30 years, but now I can finally eat one of these things in one sitting. I enjoy turkey legs as much for their portability as for their taste, and I like to gnaw on them while wandering in between rides. If only I owned a large mountain dog so I could gift him the bone.
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2. Frozen Lemonade. I don't remember drinking much water as a child as I preferred to "hydrate" myself with large quantities of sugary beverages. My drink of choice at amusement parks was (barely) frozen lemonade. I loved the super-sweet, vaguely citrusy flavor. My mother consoled herself that at least it wasn't coke.
1. Kettle Corn. Really, I hear you saying? Realize, however, that my parents purposefully refrained from telling me I could purchase this item in stores. For the greater part of my childhood I was convinced that this amalgamation of butter, sugar and crunch was a one-of-kind treat only available at Hershey Park.