Outside of the game itself, the most important thing to do at the State Fair of Texas each year is to scout out the fried food options. Each year, we’re provided with some new choices, and some are much better than others. The five of us have given our takes on the options of the past and present (you can see this year’s list here).
All-time favorite: Fletcher’s Corny Dog - Old Reliable has been my friend for about a decade now. An 11 a.m. kickoff means you have to wake up and get to the fair very early in order to take part in the revelry. But sometimes (every time) you’re not really in the mood to be a fun individual whilst hung over and after maybe three hours of sleep. That’s when the best corn dog on earth comes to the rescue. It’s there to settle your stomach and give you the necessary energy to hate on Texas to your full potential. And I don’t wanna hear a word from any of you about putting ketchup on my corn dog. I’ll do whatever the hell I want, you fascists.
All-time least favorite: Fried ribs - I love fried food as much as anybody, and - as an American - I also love ribs. But the combination of the two just didn’t work. It felt like I was biting into the toughest piece of beef jerky covered in saltines. No thanks.
Surprisingly decent/tolerable: Fried margarita - I think this was from 2010 or 2011, and it was just a margarita in a small, plastic glass with a little bit of funnel cake in it. It cost 12 tickets, and a lot of peopled hated on it. I actually thought it was very tasty.
2016 Options - All of this year’s options seem like things that would actually be worth trying. I feel like the cookie fries are getting a bit too much respect, though (they’re just cookies in the shape of fries). The award for originality should definitely go to the Funyuns, which are filled with pulled pork, pepper jack, pineapple and bacon before going in the deep fryer. Hell, that just sounds like the tastiest overall option to me. Honorable mention probably has to go to the Southern Fried Chicken & Dumplins.
All-time favorite: Fried Snickers - Snickers are great in any form, and fried is no exception.
All-time least favorite: Fried latte - Fun idea, poor execution.
Surprisingly decent/tolerable: Fried butter - This sounded pretty redundant to me, but if you can eat it without dying it's actually a rich, interesting flavor.
2016 Options - This year's slate has me salivating for a few reasons. The pulled pork Funyuns entry combines a childhood staple with an A-list meat. That fried Jell-O sounds like the perfect mix of sweet and savory, hot and cold. But what's really got me excited are the cookie fries. It never occurred to me that cookies, a treat with which I have a long and enduring love affair, were inconveniently shaped. Until now. Now every time I see a cookie I'll think--Cookie, you're delicious and I'm going to eat you, but why aren't you shaped like a French fry??
All-time favorite: Fletcher’s Corny Dog - I’m about to say something that may get me banned from the state of Texas henceforth (which wouldn’t be the worst thing ever) - deep-fried foods typically aren’t my thing. However, Fletcher’s corn dogs are a must - they’re absolutely Grade-A. Plus, I saw Bob Stoops in line when I went to the RRR in 2014, so you KNOW it’s good. True story.
All-time least favorite: Smoky bacon margarita - Although it sounds good in theory (two great things together? What could go wrong?), but in reality, this thing is a monstrosity. Lime and tequila simply do not compliment the taste of smoke and bacon. Hard pass. Pro tip: try drinking tequila, and then eating the bacon the morning after to cure your hangover. Much, much better that way.
Surprisingly decent/tolerable: Fried PB, Jelly, and Banana Sandwich - PB&J is supposed to be a classic, right? Why mess with it, much less deep fry it?! Well, I’m here to tell you that the Fried PBJ&B sandwich is one of the of the greatest things I’ve ever tasted. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory, and it satisfied me more than anything else I consumed while at the fair. Well, besides the beer.
2016 Options - It’s endlessly hilarious to me that the the goal of Texas State Fair concessionaires is to advance food by deep-frying everything. Fried beer? No problem. Fried Jell-o? You got it. Don’t forget to impale your food either, à la this year’s Deep-Fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick.
My favorite offering this year would have to be the Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia: marinated chicken and shrimp are piled on top of Caribbean rice, and slathered in salsa with a pineapple rum glaze. Oh, and by the way, this is all served inside of a half pineapple shell.
BRB, I’m hungry now.
All-time favorite: Fried cookie dough
All-time least favorite: Fried pizza - I was not expecting this to be bad, but it just was.
Surprisingly tolerable: Fried butter
This year, the State Fair of Texas ranked the cookie fries as the most creative, and fried Jell-O as the best taste. The cookie fries are basically just cookies, so I'm sure they're great, but frankly I'm surprised to see them claim the prize for most creative. I would have given that to the fried Jell-O, and you can definitely count me in to give that stuff a try. I'm amazed at how some things taste after you fry 'em. For my money, though, I'm most looking forward to the deep fried bacon burger dog slider on a stick. What a great world we live in...
Note: Kartik is our lone contributor who has never been to the fair (despite going down to Dallas for the party on several occasions), and he’s also a vegetarian. However, Kartik is a team player has decided to take a crack at judging this year’s choices.
Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia
This actually sounds great, sans the chicken. I’ll mention I’ve been a life-long vegetarian mainly because of my generally positive relationships with most cows. I tend to assume I can extend this trust to chickens as well, though I’ve never known one personally. I believe I’m also allergic to shrimp. To be quite honest, I’m not sure I’d even trust the pineapple.
Deep-fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick
Nothing like a good nap after the big game, which is the feeling this monstrosity above invokes. The post-game nap after the 11 a.m. kickoffs has been my go-to routine through all the OU-Texas weekends I’ve survived through the last decade and a half. These naps usually result from the also-go-to (and spectacular) post-game herbal therapy to really unwind, win or loss (speaking of, think there’s a chance in hell this game is ever moved to Colorado?).
Deep-fried Pulled Pork Funyuns Dings
Ah the delectable Funyun -- a truly underrated and standout snack chip of my youth. Pepper jack is some damn good cheese… but again, guys, not buying into these “pineapples” a place like this would include in not one but TWO dishes on this digestively explosive menu. I REPEAT, DO NOT TRUST THE PINEAPPLES.
Fernie's Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket with Mac 'n Cheese Dip
I’m going to do some sit-ups.
The aforementioned pineapples made me queasy. THE JELLO-O HAS ME TERRIFIED -- and I think we all know why. I have not trusted Jell-O since Hannibal Buress blew up the Internet talking about Bill Cosby.
Injectable Great Balls of BBQ
WTF? A syringe? RIGHT AFTER WE JUST WENT OVER THE JELL-O?? I knew this place was not safe. I will continue to stay away.
Southern Fried Chicken and Dumplins
This sounds like a rather normal dish for a daring old folks’ hangout.
State Fair Cookie Fries — Most Creative
WE HAVE A WINNER, FOLKS. I would gladly and confidently sample both flavors with a box or two of chocolate milk and prepare myself for a post-win siesta.