Life's Not Fair

Mark Andresen

Great questions confound the greatest of minds, forcing even legendary figures to shrivel up and crawl away in pure defeat. How do you untie the Gordian knot? That one frustrated Alexander the Great so much that he hacked at the thing with a sword. What is the meaning of life? Monty Python smashed themselves against this question, with little success. Where can you get funnel cakes now that the State Fair is over? Well, there's Six Flags and...that's pretty much it.

"You could make them," advises Suzi Taylor of Delicious Cakes in Dallas. "You just throw that batter in a bunch of grease." Indeed, the fried, powdered cakes offer little nutritional value and very little variation in taste. Oh, you can add strawberries or whipped cream, or both. But dressed up however you wish, the funnel cake remains the cake of the masses--simple, requiring little skill to prepare, and easy to eat. Delicious Cakes makes about 30 different cakes--bundt, liquor, wedding, turtle, orange divine--but no funnel cakes. "I always get funnel cakes at the Fair," Taylor adds. Even bakers and pastry chefs like funnel cakes.

"I love funnel cakes," says Amanda Hoem. She says she used to "get them all the time" in Billings, Montana. Few can resist the temptation of funnel cakes. Even spies break down and spill all when confronted by a plateful of the deep-fried treat. The CIA will deny that, of course. Funnel cakes consist basically of flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk, and powdered sugar. Drop the mix into hot oil for a couple of minutes and then fight off the crowds (and the coronary). It sounds so easy.

"We've never had a call for funnel cakes," claims Heather Low, bakery manager at Brookshire's Tasty Bakery in Plano. "We could make them, but no one asks." Han's Wynnewood Bakery claims to be a full-service place, offering carrot cakes, red velvet cakes, German chocolate cakes, and stuff like that. But no funnel cakes.

"Funnel cakes are great," says Sharon Perez. "Where can you get them?" Nowhere besides the State Fair and Six Flags, apparently. Thanks for the help, Sharon. "Go to any flea market," Colin McCall suggests. "Follow the fairs, and you'll find the funnel cakes." But that defeats the purpose, Colin. Funnel cakes are traditional fair fare, but lose their attraction otherwise. Companies sell yogurt makers, food dehydrators for beef jerky, and tools to press garlic into nice, uniform squares. But you don't see Ronco, Hamilton Beach, or even Popeil selling home funnel cake machines. Of course, all it really takes is a funnel and a frying pan.

The answer, then, to this week's burning question is a resounding "nobody knows." It seems that someone is missing a tremendous business opportunity here.

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