Welcome to the fried food capital of Texas!

There are a few things that are quintessentially Texan, like football and BBQ. One thing that stands out around this time of year is the State Fair of Texas The fair, which opened officially September 30th and runs through October 23rd, is celebrating 125 years of entertainment and fun. It has truly become a timeless tradition for Dallas, and the state as a whole.

I can’t say I’ve ever been to the fair, but there’s a lot of hype surrounding what I consider to be the most important thing about any sort of fair: the food. The State Fair of Texas is notorious for putting anything and everything into deep fryers, and yes, I truly mean anything and everything. Fried butter anyone? How about a deep fried banana split?

Big Tex
So, how about a little history? According to The State Fair of Texas’ website, The Dallas State Fair & Exposition, to which the present State Fair of Texas traces its origin, was chartered as a private corporation on Jan. 30, 1886, by a group of Dallas businessmen. Throughout the years, the State Fair of Texas has developed a tradition of providing its visitors an extensive range of exhibits, entertainment and services that are unmatched by any annual fair or expo in North America.

It is well known that Texas fair-goers have often ranked food as one of the top reasons for attending the annual State Fair of Texas. In 2005, Fair organizers - determined to take the association with food to a new level - organized the first annual Big Tex Choice Awards contest.

The contest is considered a friendly food fight among Fair concessionaires. Something interesting about the contest is that it is not open to the general public. Only concessionaires leasing space from the State Fair of Texas are eligible to enter.

Before the fair actually opens to the public, judges are brought in for the final round of competition on Labor Day.  The winner for best taste in 2011 went to Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack while Fried Bubblegum won the trophy for most creative. Yes, I said fried bubble gum. (Turns out it’s not actually bubble gum, but bubble gum flavored marshmallows.)

My interest peaked, and my curiosity boiled. What other sorts of crazy fried concoctions did people come up with since the contest began? I must know!!!

So let’s get to it…

The winners & finalists from the 2011 competition:

Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack BEST TASTE - A buffalo chicken strip is coated in flapjack batter, rolled in jalapeno bread crumbs, deep fried to a golden brown, skewed, and served with a side of syrup.  Crowd pleasing appetizer or a meal in itself! inside the Automobile Building and in the Thrill Way.

Fried Bubble Gum...?

Fried Bubblegum MOST CREATIVE - You’ll swear it’s bubblegum!  A light as a feather bubble gum flavored marshmallow is dipped in batter and lightly fried to perfection.  Decorated with a swirl of icing.  A final sprinkling of powdered sugar completes this treat!  It will blow you away!  Granny’s Funnel Cakes on Coliseum Drive.

Deep Fried Pineapple Upside Down Cake - Fresh and sweet pineapple rings are delicately dipped in cake batter, fried, and coated with a caramel, sugar, and cinnamon glaze. What tropical treat is complete without a cherry on top? Fun Way across from Guest Relations and Nimitz Avenue by the Embarcadero.

Deep Fried Texas Salsa™ - This spicy medley of jalapenos, roasted garlic, onion, tomato, and pepper is rolled together, dipped in masa, and covered in crunchy tortilla chips. Into the fryer and served with warm, deliciously creamy queso.   Located on Cotton Bowl Plaza at the Taste of Cuba stand and the Beer Garden.

El Bananarito - In case you are wondering, it’s a deep fried banana rolled in a flour tortilla, topped with whipped cream, powdered sugar, a dusting of cinnamon, and a touch of vanilla extract. Top it off with your choice of smooth, hot caramel or decadent chocolate syrup. Funnel Cake stand on Fun Way.

Fried Autumn Pie - Fair-goers will fall for this hard to resist puff pastry infused with a scrumptious combination of pumpkin, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and fall spices. Deep fried and rolled in ginger, cinnamon, and sugar. Chicken on a Stick stand located on Nimitz Drive, near the entrance to the Embarcadero.

Hans' Kraut Balls

Hans’ Kraut Ball - A conglomeration of taste: browned pork sausage, onion, garlic, a zing of sauerkraut, mustard, and tasty seasonings all rolled into a mouth-watering ball of delight. Covered with seasoned bread crumbs, deep fried, and served with your choice Spicy Mustard, Raspberry Chipotle, or Ranch. Hans Mueller tent next to the Main Stage, in Cotton Bowl Plaza, and at on Nimitz Circle. 

Walking Taco - Stroll down the Midway with this concoction of seasoned hamburger meat, lettuce, onion, fresh tomato, grated cheese, sour cream, and tasty salsa. Inventively served up in a Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos® bag! Darn Good Corn stand across from Gateway Pavilion tent on Coliseum Drive.

Some other standouts from years past include the Deep Fried Latte which won the 2007’s Most Creative aware. The dish is described as “A delicately fried, light puff pastry, with a hint of coffee, is topped with cappuccino ice cream, sweet syrup, whipped cream and instant coffee sprinkles.”

Deep Fried Latte
Another mind boggling fried food from the fair is the Fried Banana Split. How in God’s green earth can you fry a banana split? Isn’t ice cream involved in one of those? Well, the winner of Most Creative in the 2008 Big Tex Choice Awards competition is described as “a mixture of banana and honey peanut butter is rolled in balls, battered and deep-fried and topped with assorted, delicious fixings, including powdered sugar, caramel and chocolate syrups, chopped peanuts, whipped cream and banana split flavored ice cream bites then fittingly crowned with the traditional cherry.  This dish was served at the Auto Grill.
For the complete listing of winners and finalists, click here.

Have you ever been to your state's fair? How about The State Fair of Texas? What's the strangest food you've ever heard of being fried? 

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