Is there anything as magical as walking down the midway of a state fair in late summer, the Ferris wheel twinkling like a comet overhead and the bark of carnies luring you to games of milk can and high striker? State fairs are a national institution in America, and a cultural tradition that can be traced back to the 19th century. Rides, games, agriculture and live stock competitions, tractor pulls, blue-ribbon bake-offs –country and 4H club state fairs are grass-roots celebrations of regional America. They’re quirky and eclectic, yet as down-to-earth and homespun as mama’s apple pie.
And speaking of apple pie… the concessionaires at state fairs hawk every type of food imaginable, an eclectic mix of roadside barbecue, greasy diner delicacies, and deep-fried foods on a stick. If there’s one food that state fairs have mastered, it’s food on a stick. For the snack-obsessed, don’t miss these 25 innovations… all delicious, high-calorie, and impaled on a stick.
1. Walleye on a stick. Yes, it’s kind of like a fish stick. This Minnesota State Fair crowd-pleaser is drenched in batter, fried, and smothered in tartar sauce.
2. Chocolate covered strawberry waffle ball on a stick (Texas State Fair).
3. Deep fried Kool-Aid (Iowa State Fair).
4. Deep fried Snickers on a stick. While this popular concoction is a staple at state affairs around the U.S., it’s locally sourced at the New Jersey State Fair. The Mars plant is only 20 miles away.
5. Pizza on a stick (Illinois State Fair). Isn’t pizza already a handheld meal?
6. Double bacon corn dog (Iowa State Fair). No word on whether it comes with a side of Pepto-Bismol.
7. Fried butter (Iowa State Fair).
8. Peanut butter & jelly (Iowa State Fair).
9. Chocolate covered deep fried cheesecake (Iowa State Fair).
10. Deep fried spaghetti and meatball on a stick (Minnesota State Fair). Of course, kids still end up wearing half of it on their t-shirts.
11. Deep fried Twinkies (Indiana State Fair). Willy-Wonka would be proud.
12. Alligator on a stick (Mississippi State Fair). It outsells chicken on a stick 10-1.
13. Pork chop on a stick (Mississippi State Fair).
14. Deep fried olives on a stick (Minnesota State Fair).
15. Macaroni and cheese on a stick (Minnesota State Fair).
16. Teriyaki ostrich on a stick (Minnesota State Fair). Talk about bizarre foods.
17. Mocha, chai, and espresso on a stick (Minnesota State Fair).
18. Deep fried beer (Texas State Fair). That’s the sound of men cheering around America.
19. Deep fried bacon cheddar mashed potatoes on a stick (Minnesota State Fair).
20. Fried jellybeans (Massachusetts State Fair).
21. Snap, krakle, and fluff (Florida State Fair).
22. Deep fried crickets (Arizona State Fair).
23. Chocolate covered scorpions (Arizona State Fair).
24. Jumbo toasted marshmallow (Iowa State Fair).
25. Griddle stick, otherwise known as turkey sausage wrapped in a pancake (Iowa State Fair).
After all that food on a stick, you might want wait a while before riding the Tilt-A-Whirl.
—ferris wheel photo by bdunnette