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The Dose: State Fair shows the good and bad side of fried foods

The Dose: State Fair shows the good and bad side of fried foods

Big Tex stands at 55 feet tall over the "Great State Fair of Texas." The State Fair of Texas was established in 1886. Rachel Walters

The Dose: State Fair shows the good and bad side of fried foods
October 03
14:43 2017

The two of us have been going to the State Fair of Texas since we can remember.

Our dad works for a sponsor of the State Fair, so our family has always gotten free tickets. We have family traditions of eating at least one Fletcher’s corn dog and trying as much food on the Big Tex Choice Awards list as our stomachs can handle.

We are blessed to be able to go every year and, because of this, we hold a knowledge of the Fair and how good the food there can taste.

On two college budgets, we tried seven of the foods from this year’s Choice Awards list — both the good and the bad.

Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger – Zachary

The Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger was the winner for “Best Taste-Savory” and “Most Creative.” Rachel Walters

“Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger” sounds like a college kid’s Freshman 15 dream smothered in cheese.

For something I thought would be a heart attack in the making, it’s well balanced and properly portioned. Tom Grace, a State Fair of Texas veteran vendor of 30 years, produced this year’s “Most Creative and Best Taste — Savory” food.

The burger itself is nothing fancy, but getting a whole bite with the funnel cake and cheese makes for a salty-sweet experience.

The savory winner for this year is 24 tickets, and if you are having a hard time deciding on what to try first, look no further.

Gulf Coast Fish Bowl – Rachel

Big Tex Choice Award Winner “Best Taste — Sweet” is the Gulf Coast Fish Bowl. Rachel Walters

The 2017 Big Tex Choice Award winner for “Best Taste — Sweet” starts off strong with its presentation, but it is shockingly ordinary in taste.

In fact, we were confused as to how it even made itself into the finals. For 24 tickets you are given a plastic bowl of chilled blue alcohol rimmed with a Nerds-sprinkled pineapple slice. The initial sip was tasty, but once the ice started melting it tasted like a watered-down piña colada.

For the title of “Big Tex Choice Award,” you would imagine something more mind-blowing.

It’s not.

It’s like a poorly made drink you would get on a cruise ship with candy thrown inside. My advice — save your 24 tickets for the Magnolia Beer Garden if you are looking for a good buzz.

Surfin’ Turfin’ Tator Boat – Zachary

Big Tex Choice Award Savory Semifinalist Surfin’ Turfin’ Tator Boat. Rachel Walters

This was hands down the best thing at the Fair for me this year. Now am I slightly biased because I love seafood? Sure.

But this delicious potato barge might actually be worth its price of 60 tickets, which is a large asking price for something at the State Fair. The Surfin’ Turfin’ Tator Boat is a huge potato filled with buttered lobster meat and grilled steak, topped with cheddar and Romano cheese with melted garlic butter on the inside. Being handed the meal is a visual experience where the potato has been made to look like a steaming boat with a lobster claw sail.

I know spending $30 is not reasonable for some, but if you can afford to try this finalist, I highly encourage it.

Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup – Rachel

Big Tex Choice Award Savory Semifinalist Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick. Rachel Walters

Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup is exactly what it sounds like, and it tastes exactly like how you would imagine.

The flavor from each of the five nuggets you get can be described as a mix between stuffing and croquette breading without a filling. You get a side of broth to dip in and some crackers to add some style points to the presentation.

For 18 tickets, it tastes alright. It is relatively neutral compared to everything else at the fair. It’s not flashy, but it is simple and will not disappoint.

Much like previous foods at the state fair, like the “Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger” or “Surfin’ Turfin’ Tator Boat,” I feel this savory finalist is slightly underwhelming.

Deep Fried Froot Loops – Rachel

Big Tex Choice Award Sweet Semifinalist Deep Fried Froot Loops. Rachel Walters

The breakfast cereal was brought to the Fair in a Texas-sized way.

While I thought this fried dish looked creative and pretty, what we had was an over-glorified toaster strudel. The drizzle of powdered sugar and glaze makes the airy dough weighted down and mushy. The cereal on the outside had a needed crunch, but the whole meal was very one-note in flavor.

Extremely sweet and almost slimy with the glaze, I 10 out of 10 would not eat again. Do not pay 16 tickets for this — just get a funnel cake instead.

Texas Fajita Fries – Rachel

Big Tex Choice Award “Best Taste — Savory” Semifinalist Texas Fajita Fries. Rachel Walters

What made this dish 10 times better than other dishes is that everything was fried.

For 26 tickets, you get fried fajita meat packed into a bread cornucopia with fried onions, peppers and pico de gallo on top. Surprisingly, everything but the fajita meat lacked flavor. The pico de gallo was bland and the bread cone was so hard, Zach broke his fork trying to tear into it.

On the upside, the fried onions and peppers tasted great. The meat was tender but had that classic, crunchy texture you expect from State Fair food.

It had the Tex-Mex taste I was looking for, so pick it up if you can — just don’t eat the cone it comes in.

Fat Smooth – Zachary

Big Tex Choice Award “Best Taste — Sweet” Semifinalist Fat Smooth. Rachel Walters

Your quintessential sweet State Fair food is right here — and wow, was it delicious.

The Fat Smooth are fluffy fried cream puffs dusted with powdered sugar and lathered with chocolate and caramel sauce, and I wanted eight of these things.

I was surprised that the cream inside was still cold and refreshing even though it had been freshly fried moments ago. The puff retained its airiness and crunch even with its chocolate and caramel drizzle. You can share it with friends since it is three skewered on a stick, but I’d recommend eating it all yourself.

For 14 tickets, the Fat Smooth is as good as it sounds.

Featured Image: Big Tex stands at 55 feet tall over the “Great State Fair of Texas.” The State Fair of Texas was established in 1886. Rachel Walters

About Author

Rachel Walters and Zachary Walters

Rachel Walters and Zachary Walters

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  1. Bianca
    Bianca October 03, 23:42

    Nice article! It makes me wanna try some of the wacky food now!

    Reply to this comment
  2. James
    James October 04, 10:11

    Well done !

    Reply to this comment
  3. Stacy
    Stacy October 04, 11:16

    Great article!

    Reply to this comment

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