Idaho Ice Cream Potato - © via Pintrest

Even Whacky Summer Fair Foods Becoming ‘Formulaic’

There are certain things in this world that one likes to think will never change. One of them is the expectation that every year will bring new, unexpected and clever Summer Fair Foods to tantalize – or terrorize – our taste buds. But this year’s offerings seem somehow disappointing…

Koolickles - © sirglenn76 - via PintrestKool-Aid Pickles: An interesting Fair Food idea from North Carolina…

It’s something I do every summer, and it’s usually a fun thing: bring you a rundown of the craziest county fair foods I could find. But this year, there is an underlying sameness to many of the candidates at a basic underling level which their superficial differences and clever points cannot fully submerge or disguise.

I’m referring to the tendency of the latest crop of novelties from ‘food tent row’ to fall into the loose category of faux foods imitating ‘something cold that we’re used to eating hot’ (or vice-versa). Or, something we’re familiar with that is infused with a flavour we’re not expecting.

A sample rundown…

Faked Baked Potatao: From Western Idaho – the Potato capital of America – comes the Ice Cream ‘Baked’ Potato. It’s an oblong blob of Ice Cream rolled in Cocoa Powder to look like a Russet Bakling Potato, sliced in half lengthwise and topped with Whipped Cream (mimicking Sour Cream) and sprinkled with Peanuts, Cookie Crumbs, all on a base of Chocolate Sauce (to represent Gravy?). (See photo, top of page.) Cute, but…

Deep Fried Watermelon: From the California State Fair. Nothing really new, there. In fact, is there anything out there that hasn’t yet been deep-fried?

Green Chili Funnel Cake: From the New Mexico State Fair, this one replaces the usual Ice Cream / Whipped Cream topping on a standard Funnel Cake with a mixture of Deep Fried Green Chili, Pepperoni and what looks like Shredded Cheese. I assume the topping blend is hot. Just another ‘turnabout is fair play’ play on Dessert.

Deep Fried Chicken Soup: From Texas. I assume it’s the solids from classic Chicken Soup that formed into a ball, battered and fried. The Broth is served on the side for dipping.

Cookie Dough Spaghetti: Another offering from Iowa, here’s a marginally creative Desert using Cookie Dough to mimick really thick Spaghetti, topped with red-dyed Melted White Chocolate ‘Sauce’ and garnished with a Ferro Rocher Hazelnut Chocolate masquerading as a Meatball. Another ‘faux food’ play.

Pork Parfait: From Indiana, it’s a tall, layered concoction comprising Pulled Pork, Mashed Potatoes and BBQ Sauce, stacked to look like a Sundae. Creatively weak, no?

Hot Beef Sundae: From Iowa, again: A bowl full of Hot Shredded Beef, Gravy and Mashed Potatoes, topped with Grated Cheese and a Cherry Tomato (mimicking a Maraschino Cherry) – the only real reference to the ‘Sundae’ concept, here. Ho, hum. But the sign claims it’s been a crowd fave since 2006.

Been there, done that…

I was also surprised at how many old standards are coming back for 2019, including:

Inside-Out Grilled Cheese: From Indiana.

Fried Butter Balls: At the New England State Fair.

Alligator on a Stick: From Illinois State Fair. They must be really desperate for something that screams ‘Illinois’, to stray as far afield as Florida or Louisiana for something to deep fry.

Flamin’ Hot Doritos Coated Corn on the Cob: From California. Isn’t somebody at every state Fair doing this one this year?

Finally… One creative menu item!

‘Koolickles’: From The North Carolina State Fair: Regular Dill Pickles sliced lengthwise and soaked in Berry-flavourerd Koolade. Now that’s truly new and clever – not to mention uniquely Sweet and Sour -Just to prove that creativity and originality are not completely dead. (See photo, above.)

And there you have it…

A surprisingly uninspired selection of ‘the best’ from the Food Divisions of a bunch of proud old Summer State Fairs. Perhaps, like the locusts every 7 years, creativity will come roaring back with a vengeance next year. Or the year after that…

~ Maggie J.

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