See our slideshow of more State Fair of Texas Foods.
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.
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. This Monday, 25 days before the kickoff the the State Fair, 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 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.
3. Fried Biscuits and Gravy Since we live in the South, it's pretty safe to assume that you have tried and like biscuits and gravy. But have you ever tried fried biscuits and gravy? If you haven't, you should, since the fried element adds a portability factor that just doesn't exist with traditional biscuits and gravy. The portability factor adds a whole new dimension to the deliciousness of this Southern delicacy. Let's face it: Sometimes having to sit down to eat something with a knife and fork just isn't much fun, especially when you're at a fair and there are things to see and things to do all around you; a sit-down meal is simply not an option.
2. Fried Chips and Salsa Nothing screams Tex-Mex, and Texas, for that matter, quite like chips and salsa. This dish, an homage to one of Texas's all-time favorite appetizers, is a masterpiece. Tortilla chip-crusted salsa is meant to be dipped in a side of melted queso. Once the eater bites into the queso-dipped chips and salsa, they get the crunchy component of the chips, spiciness of the salsa and creamy greatness of queso -- a trio of simple textures and flavors that simply does not compare to any other.
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1. Chicken Fried Cactus In a state dominated by Tex-Mex cuisine, it is a mystery why the ultra-Mexican ingredient, cactus, is often overlooked and under-appreciated. The mere thought of eating cactus may sound daunting to many. With its State Fair of Texas debut in a nice, chicken-fried format, cactus may have just found its breakthrough in the Texas food scene. We predict Texans will fall in love with these little chicken-fried cacti for their flavor and consistency -- a bit on the slimy side -- which closely resemble that of the okra. And don't worry -- all spines are removed prior to consumption. Go ahead, try them -- you'll be screaming "gracias" to us all the way from the big D.