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Fair food

Published July 22. 2017 09:00AM

bmyszkowski@tnonline.com We're right on the cusp of fair season in these parts, and that means different things to different people. Kids are almost always most interested in rides and games, while parents and the older crowds may take more of a liking to 4-H displays.

But there is one ubiquitous element of the fair that every person holds an interest in - fair food.

Outrageous proportions of deep fried, butter drenched, sugar coated cuisine is an absolute staple of the fair.

Funny enough, when I was a child attending the West End Fair with my siblings and cousins, we would always get pizza. Dessert was most often some ice cream or funnel cake.

Our parents tended to get a sausage sandwich, or something of the like. Even those meals were considered indulgent to us, yet looking back then with what I have seen now, I have to laugh.

Last week, I was conducting some research to find new entries in the world of overindulgence that we have normalized as fair food. Over the past 20-odd years, I haven't batted an eye when someone told me that some stand at some fair features fried fill-in-the-blank. Oreos? Okay, why not? Twinkies? Sure. Even though we all knew that these snacks were already past the threshold of anything resembling healthy, it was a special treat.

I discussed this with a friend of mine just the other day, and she remarked that she couldn't even finish a fried Oreo on the one occasion that she had one. However, she countered, she was able to eat a whole funnel cake without pause.

Less than a decade ago, the Texas State Fair brought us deep fried butter, and there was something of a collective pause. Had we reached some sort of limit? Was butter the last horizon on the fried food frontier? Now, to be fair, from what I have seen, fried butter is not just a whole stick of fat. It's more along the lines of about 2 ounces, dipped in honey and cinnamon batter, and topped with a sugar drizzle.

Honestly, it's not worse than consuming a whole stick of butter, but it certainly isn't good for anyone when it contains 400 calories and 45 grams of fat.

Stay with me, I'm not a health nut, and I'm not judging anyone on their choices when it comes to fun foods.

I just have to wonder if the one-upmanship of greasy, fatty, fun fair foods just exist to test the limits of the human body.

The Iowa State Fair recently announced some new food entries for 2017, including the apple taco, campfire cones, and what should surely be a hit - raw, edible cookie dough.

Now, the apple taco makes some sense. A fried, cinnamon sugar shell containing apples topped with whipped cream. Seems almost conservative, doesn't it? Campfire cones are essentially just S'mores in a waffle cone.

But the cookie dough? That's where things get weird. What has to be the most decadent treat on the list isn't even fried, let alone cooked. Granted, even when it wasn't exactly safe to consume raw cookie dough, we've all done it.

But now that it's OK, does it mean that this is the new direction of fair food? Rest assured, though, just because it's not fried, doesn't mean it won't hit that special, over the top, sinfully sweet spot that fair foods are meant to target.

So, I guess I'll be on the lookout for a cake-batter shake at the West End or Carbon County fairs this year.

After all, it's inevitable, right? But, if that happens, and I think I can eat it, I promise my doctor I'll only have one.

Okay, maybe two. Fairs are special occasions, after all.

Brian Myszkowski can be reached at bmyszkowski@tnonline.com.

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