Cool Aid Pickles a Refreshing Alternative
To Fried Food at State Fair

As Dallas Observer's Cheap Bastard, Alice Laussade, so eloquently put it in this week's cover story, fried food at the State Fair of Texas might have jumped the shark, thanks to Mark Zable's fried beer. Zable's creation won this year's Big Tex Choice Awards' Most Creative prize. The annual fried-food contest has been a kingmaker since 2005. Chief among the fried monarchs is Abel Gonzales, who brought fried Coke and fried butter to the three-week bacchanalia of heart attacks in waiting.

Not all is deep-fryer one-upmanship. The Parish family, who have operated Carousel Concessions at the State Fair since 1985, are bringing a homegrown favorite to one of the nation's most popular state fairs: Cool Aid Pickles. "Growing up in Oak Cliff, Cool Aid Pickles were always a neighborhood favorite. Recently, their popularity began to resurface and we picked up on the growing trend. My sister, Tracy Tolbert, came up with our own version of Cool Aid Pickles," said Greg Parish, son of Robert L. and Norma J. Parish, who opened The Popcorn Market & Grill (formerly The Popcorn Factory) in 1983, and were the first vendors to sell popcorn at The Texas Motor Speedway.

Because the treat has been garnering more attention, the Parish family decided to premier Cool Aid Pickles at this year's Taste of Dallas. "We thought we had enough to carry us through the duration of the Taste of Dallas, but we sold out by Saturday afternoon. Customers would come up and ask about them. Then, they tried them, and then they came back and purchased more. People were even taking pictures of themselves eating the pickles. We were amazed," he told City of Ate. The next logical step was offering them at the family's two State Fair stands, one in the Tower Building (a.k.a. the Food Court) and the other near the Pan American Building.

Naturally, he was hesitant to divulge much information about the recipe. "It's a dill pickle marinated for a few days in Kool-Aid Punch. There are more steps that I cannot share." The pickles are served cold and are simultaneously crunchy, sweet and sour, he said. One pickle will set back fair-goers six coupons, or three dollars, a reasonably priced alternative to some of the comestibles' damn-near price-gouging status and maybe just the thing to remedy the late September to mid-October heat. "We think they'll be a big hit."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
José Ralat Maldonado