An estimated 2.5 million people flock to the State Fair of Texas every fall for carnival rides, livestock shows, a fierce college football rivalry, and much more — but it’s the deep-fried culinary oddities that keep people coming back year after year.
In this episode of Cult Following, Eater senior reporter (and Texan) Whitney Filloon discovers the craze behind the annual fair that stretches beyond locals. The corn dog is the pinnacle of all fair foods, and as legend has it, it was invented right here at the State Fair of Texas in the 1930s. The battered, fried dogs are considered a must-have for fair-goers, who eat about 600,000 of them every year.
But things get much, much weirder: There’s deep-fried butter, deep-fried beer, even deep-fried bubble gum. Last year, chicken-fried lobster with champagne gravy was a hit, while this year’s standout is the “Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger,” a burger that subs funnel cakes for a bun and gilds the lily with a slathering of queso and a dusting of powdered sugar.