By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
You prefer a strawberry margarita? They'll add strawberry puree on top just for you. More into virgins? Don't feel left out: Jake Levy says the fried margarita will be available in a non-alcoholic version as well, "Because we don't want to leave out the kids." Finally! Kids get in on the margarita action! I know my toddler's gonna be hyped. Never too early to teach the next generation about frozen bevs. Me: (best Mom voice) "Sweetie, no—you suck some margarita through the straw first, theeen you lick the salt off the rim."
One of the entries that's actually appropriate for kiddos is Isaac Rousso's ridiculously sweet, kid-breakfast-rolled-in-a-kid-breakfast-rolled-in-a-heart-attack, Fried S'mores Pop-Tart. Rousso's deep fried s'mores Pop-Tart is a S'mores Pop-Tart, lightly battered, rolled in Reese's chocolate peanut butter cereal, deep fried, then drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with whipped cream. Proud of the extreme level of sugar in his dish, Rousso boasts, "It's obscene."
Not into chocolate? Rousso told me a few weeks ago that he would also be serving up a strawberry Pop-Tart version using the same method. Now you're speaking my language, Rousso. I ask, "You mean the strawberry Pop-Tart with the icing?" He says that's exactly the one he means. He says, "I roll it in Fruity Pebbles. I'll make you one on Labor Day if you want."
And just like a bratty kid, in the middle of all the hubbub on Labor Day, when Rousso's busy being all sad and dejected that he lost the competition, I insisted that he make me the Pop-Tart like he promised. "Uh, OK. Let me just get the fryer going. You want sprinkles?" Does Kate Gosselin suck at life? Of course I want sprinkles.
I drooled all over this fried strawberry Pop-Tart as it came out of the fryer, and in one bite achieved my yearly allowance of sugar. As I was taking a bite, doctors around the world started shaking their heads at me in disgust. One crunch into the fried Fruity Pebbles crust plus the warm strawberry of the Pop-Tart and my teeth instantly fell out. Dentists cheered.
I liked it, but the judges had differing opinions. There was a lot of that dog-eating-peanut-butter face going around among the judges as they tasted the fried s'mores version. Lewis was not a fan. "It's a little hard going down."
This year the fair's theme is "Super Sized Fun." Fitting, right? Because if any of us walks into the fair thinking we're not walking out at least a couple of LBs heavier, we're kidding ourselves. Well, fair PR person Gooding says that, in fact, the theme came not out of the fair's being an overeater's paradise, but out of a discussion fair officials had with the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee. Because the Super Bowl will be at JerryWorld this year and the fair wants more involvement with the big game, fair officials decided to give a nod to the Super Bowl in this year's fair theme.
And Gooding says it's even more appropriate because, "We've got a 52-foot tall Big Tex greeting visitors, the tallest Ferris wheel in North America, the largest car show in the Southwest and the biggest college football rivalry in the Texas/OU game."
And, drum roll: We're the fourth-fattest city in the nation, according to Men's Health Magazine. Super siiiiiized!
If you give an event that serves literally hundreds of fried foods a theme like "Super Sized Fun," you might as well just adopt the slogan, "Come one fatty, come all! It's the great State Fair of Texas!" Which would be great. For once, let's embrace the true purpose of the fair: For three glorious weeks, kids get to win giant stuffed animals, and parents get to become giant stuffed animals.
This year, Nick Bert's fried Frito pie won Best Taste and nobody in the room could argue. It was delicious. He deserved the win. The field was really tough, and naming a winner just came down to the taste preferences of the three judges. It just as easily could have been fried chocolate or the fried margarita.I don't think Mark Zable's gross-out trademarked sideshow fried beer should have merited Best Taste honors, but who's to say Most Creative has to taste good? After all, the recipe for a great fair has always been part extremely beautiful plus part sickening sideshow. I, for one, am going to fried food myself into a carny coma.
Where will fair fried food go from here? Absent the Occupational Safety and Health Administration banning exploding grease from the Midway, it's doubtful there will be a return to the days of fresh watermelon and raw oysters. So that leaves room for ever more innovative fair-food dares. And I'm hoping it's fried hamsters. The trick will be figuring out how to keep those effers alive inside a waffle.