The most outrageous state fair foods

Nothing says America like a wholesome state fair. And what’s more wholesome – or American – than filling your gullet with mounds of fried, sticky, salty, and/or sweet junk foods?

Beyond the carnival rides and the livestock judging contests, state fairs have always served as quasi-laboratories for American-style street food. In fact, the now-ubiquitous corn dog was first introduced to the public in the early 1940s at a state fair, though which one is still up for debate. The Texas State Fair, aka the “Fried Food Capital of Texas®”, and the Minnesota State Fair both lay claim to this distinctly American treat.

Each year, state fair food vendors try to outdo each other – and intrigue the crowds – with new belly-busting concoctions, usually inspired by local fare. For instance, dairy state Iowa features a deep-fried stick of butter at the Iowa State Fair, while the Texas State Fair has served up fried cookie dough and fried beer. The bigger and more artery-clogging the better when it comes to state fair foods. Here is just a sampling of some of the state fair foods Gadling found to be truly outrageous.


Butter cows and other butter sculptures

Intelligent Travel recently posted about the Iowa State Fair’s tradition of the butter cow. This is not the only state to boast a life-size cow sculpted out of pounds and pounds of butter. Other fairs have cow and other objects done up in butter as part of their fair traditions.

The Ohio State Fair jumped on the butter cow bandwagon awhile back and has added other butter sculptures to the dairy wow factor. This year, displayed in the same case as the cow and her calf, is Ohio’s version of Mt. Rushmore–the faces of the eight U.S. presidents who were born in Ohio.

I was fortunate enough to visit the display this past Friday. There is a voice recording that blares out butter sculpture facts so that any one within yards of the building can get the scoop on exactly what’s involved in such an endeavor.

I also found the facts in this post by Kathy Lynn Gray who is blogging on the Ohio State Fair. It takes two tons of butter to sculpt 8 presidents and 2 cows. In stick numbers, that’s 8,000 sticks of butter.

If you’d like to try sculpting butter yourself, you’ll need a dairy case that is kept at 46 degrees in which to work, but work fast. You’ll only be able to work in increments of 40 minutes because you’ll get too cold and need to take a break.

In the same building that houses the butter sculptures at the Ohio State Fair, you can buy ice-cream, butter-milk and milk. The milk was a bargain at $1 for a 1/2 pint. If you happen to want ice-cream, the line moves fairly quickly. There are only four flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint chocolate chip. My son shared.

A friend of mine wants to know what happens to the butter after the fair. I’m not sure I’d want to eat any of that butter on toast, even if it is kept cold. For more butter sculpture info, click here.