Sound the deep-fried alarm bells: The annual cultural spectacle that is the State Fair of Texas is just two months away, and the list of the weirdest new stuff to eat this year has just been unveiled.
As the country's biggest fair, the State Fair of Texas attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each fall — and while attractions include giant butter sculptures and the world’s largest pig, many come solely for the food. Every year dozens of vendors compete to see who can concoct the most creative stunt foods: Some are wonderful (fried butter!) and some are downright gross (fried bubblegum!), but most will take a trip through the deep-fryer and/or be served on a stick.
Highlights from this year’s new offerings include deep-fried chicken noodle soup on a stick, which sounds like it must defy the laws of physics; deep-fried Fruit Loops, which actually sound kind of good and a bit Milk Bar-esque; and beer-battered beef jerky, which sounds... interesting. Though sure to horrify craft beer snobs, Oreo beer sounds like a natural followup to the award-winning funnel cake beer that debuted at the fair in 2015.
Also on the list is a “ramen grasshopper cookie,” which raises more questions than it answers: Wtf is ramen doing in a cookie? Does grasshopper refer to the classic mint-chocolate flavor combo, or is a fair vendor jumping on the edible insects trend?
There’s also the funnel cake bacon queso burger, which sounds not unlike something that would be served at Philly’s famed stunt burger purveyor PYT. Then there’s pinot noir popcorn, which sounds like precisely the kind of snack fairgoers would like to enjoy while stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel. (Of note: This batch of new foods are just the ones that qualified for the fair’s annual “Big Tex Choice Awards” that crowns the best-tasting and most creative, meaning even more weird shit is on the way. For the full list of semi-finalists, check out GuideLive.)
Really, State Fair cuisine is the antithesis of the obnoxiously omnipresent “Instagram foods” trend that has clogged newsfeeds with mermaid toast and galaxy doughnuts. Most deep-fried foods are hard to distinguish from one another; lumpy shapes shrouded in a thick coating of golden-brown batter are not particularly photogenic. No, eating fried chicken noodle soup on a stick isn’t about racking up Instagram likes — it’s about sheer ingenuity and oddball creativity, and waging an all-out assault of grease and sodium on one’s palate just for the hell of it. And that, in 2017, is kind of a beautiful thing.