Hot Beef Sundaes & 10 More Wacky Fair Foods

sign at the Wisconsin State Fair, August 2009

A Hot Beef Sundae, anyone? My arteries are hardening just thinking about it, but you can bet Indiana State Fair-goers are already lining up for this bad boy. No, there's no ice cream involved, but don't worry, you'll get your week's supply of saturated fat in other ways. The HBS is like the bovine version of KFC's Mashed Potato Bowl, made with mashed potatoes, marinated beef, gravy, cheese ... oh, and corn, because vegetables are good for you. 

If you haven't already guessed, it's county fair season, time to unleash your taste buds on some pretty strange culinary concoctions. Every year, food purveyors strive to find new ways to outdo themselves. Last summer, chocolate-covered bacon made its debut at the Wisconsin State Fair (now found year-round at places like the chocolatier Vosges Haut-Chocolat).


But Beef Sundaes are this year's treat to beat. They have a lot of competition, particularly of the deep-fried variety. And I'm not just talking about fried cheese curds, fried Snickers bars, fried Twinkies, fried Oreos or fried green beans -- all solid staples in the fair food circuit. I mean the really crazy fair food -- delicacies that verge on experimental.

Many are only available at a handful of fairs, so outside of Texas and the Midwest, we're forced to gawk from afar. So regardless of whether you live, feast your eyes on these 10 Wackiest Fair Foods From Around the Country:

10. Fried Butter: Whipped, frozen, and dipped in batter, it's served in Indiana and Texas and comes in varieties like cinnamon, garlic, grape and cherry. (Paula Deen offers her own Fried Butter Balls recipe if you want to try this at home.)

9. Fried Coke: Also a Texas treat, it's actually Coke-flavored batter with fountain syrup added post-fry.

8. Donut Burger: It sounds like the inaugural post on This is Why You're Fat, but it's actually a newcomer to the Wisconsin State Fair. One vendor told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel it expects to sell 3,500 of these in just three days!

7. Deep-Fried Sushi: First it was Pop-Tart sushi at Pop-Tarts World at Times Square, now it's deep-fried sushi at the Indiana State Fair. Perhaps not that different than tempura, it's still noteworthy to see Japanese cuisine on the midway.

6. Deep-Fried Cream Cheese and Deep-Fried Ravioli: In addition to traditional favorites, Wisconsin fair-goers will have the option to sample deep-fried cream cheese and deep-fried ravioli, which makes fried cheese seem like child's play, doesn't it?

5. Deep-Fried Cheesecake: Deen also has a recipe for Ultimate Fantasy Deep-Fried Cheesecake, but you can also skip the fuss and visit the Medina County Fair in Ohio, where you'll find cheesecake rounding out its fried-goods menu.

4. Deep-Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly and Banana Sandwich: They say everything's bigger in Texas, which I suppose includes peanut butter sandwiches made even more scrumptious by dipping them into a deep fryer. That's exactly what they've done in the Lone Star State at fairs of yore.

3. Cheese Pizza topped with corndogs: A newcomer to the Minnesota State Fair this year, it sounds like a child's (or lunch lady's?) dream come true: four corn-dog halves (minus sticks) on top of a cheese pizza, yielding eight slices of Italian-American wonder. My question: Why didn't they fry it?

2. Fried Pig Ears: This sounds more like a dog treat than people food, but you'll also find thinly sliced pigs' ears dusted in seasoned flour, fried until crispy, and served with a lime chipotle glaze in Minnesota this year.

1. Fried Banana Split/Cookie Dough: Ready for dessert? In previous years, the Texas State Fair has served up plenty of sweet fried treats, like fried cookie dough or a spin on a banana split that uses peanut butter instead of ice cream.

Bonus: While you can't eat it, the Iowa State Fair has a life-size cow made out of butter every year. Weighing in at 600 pounds, future butter cows could potentially be turned into a whole lot of bio fuel afterward, according to a recent story in the New York Times.

What's your favorite fair concoction? Did it make the list?


Image via Lisa Lacy

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