For most of us growing up, going to county and state fairs meant sampling classic treats: cotton candy, popcorn and blue-ribbon-winning desserts. With fair season in full swing over Labor Day, we took a look at what today’s gatherings offer. If you haven’t been in awhile, you might be surprised by the variety of foods competing for your taste buds’ attention. From fried Sriracha balls to chocolate salami, choices abound — proving that nearly anything can be deep-fried and that festival fare has come a long way from snow cones and hot dogs.
Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato
This delicious dish is featured at the Texas State Fair this year, where it’s competing for the Big Tex® Choice Award.
Made with butter, bacon, cheese and the “creamy insides” of a baked potato, it has a comfort-food appeal.
(MORE: How I Finally Gave Up Junk Food)
Made by coating Oreo sandwich cookies in pancake batter, these are a new take on a perennial favorite cookie. (Did you know that more than 95 million Oreos are sold each day worldwide?)
This deep-fried version will leave fairgoers pondering whether to dunk, twist, lick or bite it.
The classic dish of noodles, meat, cheese and sauce is perfect for nearly any occasion — even the fair.
They throw it in a deep fryer until it’s reached golden-brown perfection, or at least that’s what the New York State Fair is doing.
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Deep-Fried Gummy Bears
There’s never a shortage of new ideas for food to deep fry — and now the gummy bear is getting its turn at the Oklahoma State Fair.
The gummies melt into a sweet gel that is dusted with powdered sugar and topped with strawberry sauce.
North Shore Mac ‘n Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is one of the best-selling food items at grocery stores — every day, Kraft Foods sells more than one million boxes of its orange mac & cheese.
The Minnesota State Fair gives a homestyle version of the dish a twist, adding smoked walleye, sweet corn kernels and roasted red peppers on top of noodles in a smoked Gouda sauce.
Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls
The classic cinnamon roll has taken on a new flavor, joining forces with the beloved chocolatey goodness of red velvet. Is your mouth watering yet?
Shrimp-Dog On a Stick
Corn dogs may be a favorite savory fair treat, but they have new competition. Besides the latest variations on the classic (like this gluten-free beer battered brat), there are new eats that take the concept in a different direction, like the shrimp dog that debuted at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.
It combines baby shrimp and cream cheese dipped in batter, then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.
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