Fried Fair Frenzy…
Imagine a world where anything can be deep-fried, animal birth is a spectacle, women are sculpted into butter and there is such a thing as Donut Beer. Yes, this place is real! It’s known as the Minnesota State Fair.
We had the great fortune of being invited by two frequent fairgoers, design gurus, and more importantly fast friends. It was an experience to say the least.
The Minnesota State Fair, also known as the ‘Great Minnesota Get-Together’, runs for 12 days between late August and Labor Day. Attendance in 2016 was around two million visitors, making it the second largest fair in the country.
For fair virgins, a few tips:
1) Wear comfy shoes, preferably not white given the cow dung, muddy fields and excessive food toppings.
2) Wear stretch pants for when the sodium swell sets in.
3) Stay close as a group.
4) Don’t fall for fair hair ($45 hair treatment that includes neon colors and glitter).
5) Come hungry.
On our day trip, we couldn’t get to everything, but some of the highlights did include a ‘Miracle of Birthing Center’ (where you can see animals giving birth in real time), a dairy building where a teenager wins the title of ‘Princess Kay of the Milky Way’ and is sculpted out of butter, a horse show, a pumpkin competition and of course food.
To be honest, we really just came for that. And eat we certainly did! We hit all the latest food vendors to see if they were worth the hype. And along the way, we made some delicious discoveries.
At its most basic, the fair presumes you leave any concern for health and proper digestion aside. A ticket to the Minnesota State Fair gives you an all-day license to indulge. Food vendors compete for the most decadent, fried, gooey, sticky, gut-challenging foods. All of which have to be served on a stick because obviously there’s no time to waste!
Jokes aside, the most popular foods actually revealed some noteworthy snacking nuances. Here are just a few top picks from the day:
1. Reimagined nostalgic favorites are alive and well
Evident in foods like the Bacon Fluffernutter (grilled cinnamon bun sandwich filled with bacon, peanut butter and marshmallow filling, served alongside maple syrup) chocolate popovers served with peanut butter spread, and the Sonoran hot dog (stuffed with pepper jack cheese, wrapped in bacon, and drizzled with avocado ranch salsa).
2. It’s all about the toppings
We spotted Tater Totchos (topped with bacon, banana and peanut butter) and Nacho Corn (drenched in mayonnaise, nacho cheese and Doritos).
3. Modularity is a must…
And, found in delectable cheese curds, Mini Sconuts (scone and donut balls infused with Nutella) and Cherry Bombs (red liquorice dipped in batter, deep-fried and dusted with powder sugar).
4. Booze infused
You can and should bite into alcohol with options like Tipsy Pies (handmade pies filled with ale and complimentary ingredients liked brown ale, onion and gouda) and the Deviation Stout Steak Taco Naan (steak marinated in dark chocolate stout beer and topped with taco toppings).
5. New twists on ethnic cuisine
To name a few… Cranberry Wild Rice Swedish Meatballs, Australian Battered Potatoes served with cheese, ranch and spicy chipotle sauce and Pizzaritos (tortillas filled with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mozzarella and marinara).
6. Better breakfast bowls
Like the Breakfast Buddy Bowl (waffle bowl filled with hash browns, maple syrup, eggs, cheese, bacon, gravy and a biscuit) and Wild Bill’s Breakfast Bake (baked scrambled eggs, roasted chicken, chorizo sausage and picked red onions).
As one might imagine, by the end of the day our tummies were fighting back. However we didn’t leave before at least indulging in a tub of Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies, which as of last year made over $2M in one fair season.
So what did we walk away with? Apart from high sodium? The realization that fair foods standout through modularity, shareability, portability and new, bold flavor pairings that reinvigorate old, familiar favorites. Next stop, the Tulsa State Fair!
Blog written by Eliza from our Bulletproof New York tribe.