Corn dogs, cotton candy and caramel apples used to be the staple carnival food for many years but in the past decade foodies are ramping up the choices across the world. Food of every imaginable shape, size, color and taste are being created specifically for the enthusiasts who visit the fairgrounds each year. From creative burgers to deep-friend peanut butter pickles to the most expensive hot dog in the world, the fairgrounds are the hottest place to be to try new food. Discover 12 crazy carnival foods you can try for yourself this summer.
12. Deep-fried Donut Bacon Cheeseburgers
It seems that fairs and festivals love to deep-fry just about anything and it should come as no surprise that chefs are now replacing burger buns with donuts. Krispy Kreme donuts have been a favorite to use over the years in American State Fairs to produce extraordinary burgers. At the Calgary Stampede in Canada this year they are deep-frying the donuts and making their own take on this burger. These glazed donuts are deep friend and stacked together with a burger patty, cheese and bacon in between. There is no room for lettuce or tomato in these melt in your mouth, drippy goodness burgers. The glazed donuts add a little bit of sweetness to this savory burger and create the ultimate heart stopping meal.
11. Deep-fried Kool-Aid
We’ve all heard of deep friend chocolate bars but in California at the San Diego County Fair, deep-fried everything has been taken to a new level. Visitors to this fair will have the chance to put themselves into a sugar coma as they try the newest deep-fried invention, deep-fried Kool-Aid. How does it work you may be asking? First balls of batter are created out of water, flour and Kool-Aid powder. They are then thrown into the deep-fryer for an undetermined amount of time and when they are pulled out they immediately get rolled in a tray of powdered sugar and Kool-Aid mix. The result is a bright pink ball of sugar that tastes just like cherry Kool-Aid, in food form though. If you are looking to try the newest deep-fried sensation, head to San Diego this summer!
10. Spam Curds
The Minnesota-born mystery meat is celebrated at the Minnesota State Fair year after year and if you are looking for something other than ‘on a stick’, Spam curds are the new fad. Contrary to popular belief, Spam isn’t actually mystery meat; it’s a mixture of chopped pork shoulder, ham and a bunch of preservatives and it originated in Minnesota in 1937. Today they celebrate Spam and offer up diced chunks of cheese-flavored Spam that are battered, deep-friend and served in a basket with a side of ranch dressing. The Spam booth has a permanent home at this fair and an ever popular choice is the Spam Burger. As times goes on and the deep-fried trend continues it will be interesting to see just how much more Spam innovations they come up with.
9. Jalapeño Poutine Mini Donut Bowl
Canadians love their poutine and love to recreate this traditional dish that is made up of french friends, cheese curds and gravy. It should come as no surprise then that the Calgary Stampede is at the forefront of introducing a new and somewhat head scratching poutine choice. The Jalapeño poutine mini donut bowl starts off with the ever popular fresh mini donuts, deep-fried of course. Sliced jalapeños are then placed on top along with cheese curds. A large spoonful of gravy is poured over the entire concoction turning it into a specialty poutine (minus the traditional fries). If you like spicy food and mini donuts; this sounds like the perfect combination, but if you are thinking “what the heck is this” you are just like the rest of us. The only real question here is who is bold enough to try it?
8. Hot Beef Sundae
It may sound gross when you think about eating a hot beef sundae but the name is deceiving, as we have discovered after doing a little research. This hot beef sundae does in fact sound delicious, albeit a bit odd. At the Indiana State Fair, the Indiana Beef Cattle Association has created this dish which is essentially a big bowl of marinated beef, slathered in gravy and topped with mashed potatoes, a sprinkle of corn and cheese and a cherry tomato on top. Remarkably it does look like a hot fudge sundae indeed! They have gone one step further and created a pulled pork parfait as well at this fair. It consists of pulled pork smothered in sauce, topped with mashed potato and actually served in a parfait cup, complete with a spork. If you thought meat was just for dinner, think again. This state fair shows just how versatile this food can be.
7. Chocolate Covered Insects
If you are willing to try just about anything than you need to head to the Arizona State Fair where chef John loves to deep-fry insects and smother them with chocolate. We’re talking about scorpions, crickets and even grubs. These crunchy treats have long been considered a delicacy in Asia and other parts of the world but we have to ask ourselves why anyone would want to eat these. If chocolate isn’t your thing, the Arizona State Fair also offers up a caramel apple that is covered in deep-fried meal worms. Before you eat anything at this state fair, you may want to ask what really lies underneath that delicious looking chocolate as it’s known to offer up some pretty unusual foods.
6. Deep-fried Starbucks Coffee
We have to say; whoever dreamed up this creation and brought it to the fair was an absolute genius. Deep fried coffee debuted at the San Diego State Fair in California and was an immediate hit. Just how do they make it though? The dough is coffee infused with hints of cinnamon, wrapped around a Starbucks coffee bean and then fried in oil and bacon fat. It is served with coffee bean flecked whipped cream in a Starbucks cup to create one of the most delicious ‘breakfast’ meals out there. It can be described as salty and sweet with a hint of coffee flavor and not heavy enough to make you feel guilty for eating three of them. We are not sure if Starbucks has partnered up with this food stand but we certainly hope we see this new treat at many fairs across the world.
5. Peanut Butter Kabob
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been making a huge comeback when it comes to carnival food but this year is the first time we have seen the peanut butter kabob. Coming to the Calgary Stampede in July, this amazing combination of peanut butter, jelly and peanut butter cups has our mouth watering. First the peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich is deep-fried (all the more reason to like this treat). Next the Reese peanut butter cups get deep-fried. It comes together on a stick when the sandwich is cut into four and skewered, with the peanut butter cups between each quarter. The result is the ultimate peanut butter and jelly sandwich, complete with desert, all in one meal.
4. Cockroach Pizza
If you thought eating chocolate covered bugs was disgusting, this may top the list for most disgusting-sounding fair food of the year. The Calgary Stampede has taken eating bugs to a new level and plans to offer this cheesy, cockroach topped pizza at this year’s event. Yes we are talking about those disgusting, often huge bugs that invade houses and seriously gross you out. Last year the stampede featured scorpion pizza but wanted to take things to a more extreme level and is daring people with this year’s concoction. We aren’t sure yet whether the cockroaches will be on the top like pepperoni, hidden underneath the cheese or cooked into the dough. Gather your friends, buy a pizza and dare someone to take a bite of this extremely crazy pizza.
3. Deep-Fried Peanut Butter-Stuffed Pickle
From the creator of deep-fried Kool-Aid, the deep-fried Oreo cookie and many more crazy deep-fried foods comes the fried peanut butter-stuffed pickle. The name leaves nothing up to the imagination, as it is exactly what it sounds like. A pickle is stuffed with peanut butter, covered in cornmeal batter and put in the deep-fryer. To top things off, it is drizzled with chocolate sauce and dusted with powdered sugar. The hope is that the sweet and sour flavors play off each other in a delicious matter. Early reports from people that have tried the pickle have been mixed, although no one has claimed to love it. The San Diego State Fair is where it debuted and this may be the only year you can try it, depending on people’s reactions.
2. Funnel Cake Cheeseburger
This crazy concoction made its debut at the Florida State Fair in February and fans can expect to find this treat popping up at fairs al over the place. It’s exactly what it sounds like; a beef patty smothered in cheese, complete with bacon, lettuce, pickles and tomatoes and sandwiched between two glazed funnel cakes. Rumor has it that this delicious meal has been a staple at the Wisconsin State Fair for years and visitors have often been seen chowing down on this delight. There are different varieties out there depending on where you find this burger, some with glazed funnel cakes, some with powdered funnel cakes, but one thing remains constant: after trying this treat, you will never want to eat a regular cheeseburger again.
1. Dragon Dog
It could just be the most expensive hot dog in the world, and it is available at this year’s Calgary Stampede for the mere price of $100. That’s right, $100 for a foot long hot dog. So what makes this hot dog so overly expensive? It could be the $3000 a bottle Louis XIII cognac that is used to infuse the dog. Or perhaps it is the Kobe beef that is cooked in truffle oil that covers the hot dog. Or maybe the cost is so high because the hot dog includes a lobster tail in it. To top it off, the hot dog is covered in various sauces and topped with a mix of truffles, tomatoes and ricotta cheese. If you have an extra $100 hanging around, it may just be worth it to try this once-in-a-lifetime kind of hot dog.