State fairs had Americans lining up way before fusion food trucks and Dumpster eateries came along. Meant to promote agricultural innovations, the first fair, held in 1841 in Syracuse, N.Y., attracted thousands of people. They came for the animal exhibits, a plowing competition, and samples of farm and manufactured goods. That’s no longer the case.
These days, crowds clamor to try the most outrageous fair food—and the concoctions get wilder every year. From Texas’ deep-fried Sriracha balls to Wisconsin’s Cajun shark on a stick, here are 2014’s most wickedly inventive menu items.
Smoked Brisket and Bacon Mac and Cheese (Iowa)
What does America’s favorite comfort food need? Beef chunks, applewood-smoked bacon, and three-cheese sauce.
Chocolate-Covered Chunky Bacon Maple Nougat on a Stick (Iowa)
This treat hits the trifecta of sugar, salt, and fat.
Deep-Fried Mashed Potatoes (New York)
This vendor also offers deep-fried mac and cheese.
Cajun Shark on a Stick (Wisconsin)
To top last year’s frog legs, Brookfield, Wis., outfit Joey’s Seafood and Grill hops on the “Shark Week” bandwagon and offers shark on a stick. How does it taste? “It’s a very tough type of fish because it’s very muscular, but it has a good flavor,” owner Jim Knop tells CBS 58.
The Minnesota State Fair dubiously describes this colorful treat as gluten-free, low in sugar, and made with fresh ingredients. Available “exotic flavor” combinations include banana–toffee crunch, strawberry–pretzel–cream cheese, and coffee-and-doughnuts.
Deep-Fried Giant Gummy Bears (Oklahoma)
Large gummy bears go into the deep fryer and are topped with strawberry sauce and more sugar.
Deep-Fried Texas Bluebonnet (Texas)
A baked and deep-fried blueberry muffin is topped with whipped cream, white chocolate chips, sugar, blueberries, and a blueberry glaze.
Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Leg (Minnesota)
Pork Chop on a Stick (North Dakota)
Forks and plates really have no business at a state fair. A Paleo’s dream come true.
Fried Sriracha Balls (Texas)
Shredded chicken, green chiles, tomatoes, corn, and Sriracha go into this treat, which you can dip into more Sriracha.