"You can't go wrong with chocolate!," a satisfied volunteer crowed upon exiting the Big Tex Choice Awards.
Except, it seems, at the State Fair of Texas, where savory resoundingly trumped sweet at this morning's awards ceremony. Fried beer claimed the "most creative" prize, while Texas fried Frito pie won the "best taste" category.
Sammy Naon had come from Miami to pull for his son's chocolate and peanut butter concoction. Naon described Isaac Rousso's deep fried S'mores Pop Tart as tasting like "a very expensive restaurant dessert." Moments later, judge Brian Mackey dug into the chocolate-drizzled and whipped cream-crowned snack and announced it tasted like "a restaurant dessert."
"Did you hear that?," Naon said excitedly. "Did I say that? We hope, we hope. Look, he's eating the whole thing."
Rousso's sister Dulce Blacher said she's been texting descriptions of Rousso's competition to her husband back in Miami.
"He's a cardiologist," she said "He's like, 'No, that's unreal. I'm going to open up a booth there.'"
But neither the Pop Tart nor a dish of molten brownie batter submitted by fried food legend Abel Gonzales were singled out for best of honors. Fried sweet drinks, including lemonade and a margarita, were similarly snubbed.
The top-performing fried beverage was beer.
""If anything, it should get the engineering award," Mackey said, admitting he probably wouldn't be able to finish off more than two of the warm pretzel pockets.
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Mark Zable hasn't revealed how he keeps his beer liquefied throughout the frying process, but samplers had no doubt they were biting into beer. Each salty ravioli releases a geyser of warm, sour beer when chewed. Since the unexpected presence of liquid in one's mouth is typically an indicator of a medical malady, reactions to the dish were mixed. It would no doubt be a hit with gross-loving pre-teen boys -- if they were old enough to drink.
More successful was the Frito pie, which provided a sensible solution to the traditional mess of chili and corn chips. Here, the chili and cheddar are encased in the Frito.
"It's fantastic," Mackey decreed.
All eight finalists will be available for sale at the State Fair of Texas.