Originally started in 1889, the State Fair of Texas is the stuff of legends. Outside of the world-class automotive show, the free concerts, midway games, and carnival rides, only one thing is truly important: the food.
This weekend, hundreds of fried foods enthusiasts descended on Fair Park for the 2016 Annual Big Tex Choice Awards. In its 12th year, the Awards have sort of become the "Oscars of fried food," a place where fair vendors can build hype for their grease-drenched offerings before the fair officially opens the gates on September 30.
You already know that you'll be grabbing a Fletcher's Corny Dog and taking a few Deep Fried Oreos to the face, but you'll also definitely want to save plenty of tickets in order to try this year's new offerings. Ranging from deep-fried Jell-O to sliders on a stick, these eight deep-fried delights are worth every single damn calorie.
Winner: Best Taste
Fair veteran Ruth Hauntz's Fried Jell-O took home this win for this year's best tasting entry at the Big Tex Choice Awards. To make this sweet and greasy delight, classic cherry Jell-O is crusted with panko and flash-fried before being dusted with powdered sugar and topped with whipped cream and (of course) a cherry.
Winner: Most Creative
The obvious choice for this year's most creative entry was Isaac Rousso's Cookie Fries, a food that should have probably been invented before now. Sugar cookie dough replete with sprinkles is shaped into ridiculously realistic looking "fries," then deep-fried until crispy. The "ketchup" is actually a strawberry dipping sauce.
The Runners Up
Created by Christi Erpillo, Fernie’s Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket is decidedly better than that frostbitten pot pie jammed in the back of your freezer. Puff pastry stuffed with classic pot pie fixins', deep fried, and served with a mac & cheese dipping sauce just like God intended.
Chris Howard's Deep Fried Pulled Pork FUNYUN® Dings definitely deserve an honorable mention in the "creativity" category. The classic onion-flavored chip is stuffed with a mound of pulled pork, pepper jack cheese, pinapple, and bacon battered and fried until crisp. A "multilayered sweet barbecue" dipping sauce is served on the side.
Pipettes have made their way from upscale cuisine to lowbrow eats with Glen Kusak's Injectable Great Balls of BBQ. Smoked brisket is drenched in the same bock barbecue sauce you'll find in the pipette, shredded, breaded, deep fried until crispy, and served on a bed of coleslaw.
In a burger-obsessed city like Dallas, the Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick by Brent & Juan Reaves is a no-brainer. A mini burger patty is stuffed with an all-beef hot dog, bacon and cheese and piled onto a Hawaiian roll. The slider is skewered, topped off with a pickle, and bathed in tempura batter. The sliders hit the deep fryer, then are placed atop a bed of shoestring fries and served with ranch dipping sauce.
If you're trying to eat healthy at the State Fair of Texas (lol) the Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia by Stephen Alade is the closest you're gonna get. A half-pineapple is carved out (RIP, healthiness) and stuffed with grilled chicken, shrimp, and Caribbean fried rice. A "tropical salsa" and pineapple rum glaze add probably all the non-fried veggies you'll find at the Fair.
It's not the most beautiful of the bunch, but Clint Probst's Southern Fried Chicken & Dumplins are still worth all those tickets. Dumpling dough, shredded chicken, and gravy are battered and fried, then served alongside mini "biscuit bites" for the optimal amount of carb overload.