Our Deep-Fried Decade: Ten Years Of Gluttony And Progress At The State Fair

After 10 years, this is where we ended up: four deep-fried butter balls topped with garlic and grape sauce. How did we get to the point where we'd actually eat this?
After 10 years, this is where we ended up: four deep-fried butter balls topped with garlic and grape sauce. How did we get to the point where we'd actually eat this?
Photos by Patrick Michels

In the early 2000s, we came to the State Fair of Texas with a doe-eyed, innocent kind of hunger. We'd get a corn dog, maybe a funnel cake or a fried candy bar. Ten years later, we emerged with bellies full of grease, and eyes opened to amazing new possibilities from the deep fryer.

Today, Texas. Tomorrow, the world. That's how it went in the '00s.
Today, Texas. Tomorrow, the world. That's how it went in the '00s.

Over the last decade, the state fair has been on the cutting edge of the extreme grease movement. Every Major League Eater, every chef featured on This Is Why You're Fat owes a debt to culinary chemists like Abel Gonzales, Jr., -- the man behind fair favorites like fried Coke -- who urged us onward in the '00s to the point we should've seen coming a mile away, the fried food singularity that captivated a hungry nation earlier this year.

2000 and before: The Corny Dog

Our Deep-Fried Decade: Ten Years Of Gluttony And Progress At The State Fair


The original. It's still the face of fried Texas fair food, and for years we were satisfied with one of these and an occasional funnel cake.

Fried Green Beans

Our Deep-Fried Decade: Ten Years Of Gluttony And Progress At The State Fair


A relic of a time when we still struggled with guilt over fried foods, the fried green beans recall earlier attempts to eat our grease and batter with a side of something healthy. We wouldn't stay conflicted for long.

Chocolate Strawberry Waffle Balls

Our Deep-Fried Decade: Ten Years Of Gluttony And Progress At The State Fair


These gooey blobs of fried goodness mark the intersection of the original fried Oreos and Twinkies, deep-fried health food like the green beans above, and the food-on-a-stick influence of the corny dog. Even in 2008, it was our pick for the best of the fried fair food.



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