Taco Bell and Burger King may be the reigning champs of weird novelty items in the fast food realm — Whopper burritos! Fried chicken taco shells! — but for sheer variety, the State Fair of Texas simply can't be beat. The country's biggest fair attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each fall, and many of those come solely for the food.
Every year dozens of vendors converge on Dallas's Fair Park to hawk an array of increasingly bizarre stunt foods, almost all of which will take a dip in the fryer; this is the place where fried Coke and fried butter were invented, not to mention funnel cake beer and bacon margaritas. While the fair doesn't officially kick off until September 30, many of this year's new deep-fried oddities have already been unveiled. Here are the standouts:
Just when you thought french fries couldn't possibly get any less healthy, a State Fair vendor chucked strips of cookie dough in the deep-fryer. Ketchup is a vegetable and that simply wouldn't do, so instead they're served with chocolate and strawberry sauces. (This one nabbed an award for "Most Creative"; don't be surprised if BK snatches this idea and runs with it.)
How does one deep-fry a mixture of powdered gelatin and water without causing a horrible grease fire? The makers of this cherry-flavored oddity say that information is proprietary. It comes hidden under a giant mound of whipped cream (and the requisite maraschino cherry), and intriguingly enough, nabbed a "Best Taste" award.
CHICKEN POT PIE POCKETS
This one's actually fairly tame — basically a handheld version of a chicken pot pie — until you get to the condiment accompanying it: a ramekin of macaroni and cheese for dipping. That's right, in America we use mac and cheese AS A DIP. (The tiny paper flag is essential.)
Like Hawaiian pizza made sweet, savage love to a bag of Funyuns, this concoction combines the bad breath-inducing crunchy snack with pulled pork, pepper jack, pineapple, and bacon, and then fries the holy bejesus out of it. (Served with wedges of fresh pineapple that are mercilessly left un-fried.)
INJECTABLE BARBECUE BALLS
Brisket is the king of Texas barbecue, and rolling it into a ball and breading it frankly seems a little sacreligious. The main attraction here is the "injectable" gimmick: The fried orbs are impaled with mini plastic pipettes enabling fairgoers to impregnate their own food with barbecue sauce. Possibly the most el Bulli-esque the State Fair of Texas will ever get.
The State Fair of Texas runs September 30 through October 23 at Fair Park in Dallas.