For North Carolinians like myself, nothing says "welcome to fall" like a trip the State Fair. For two weeks every October, the fair grounds in Raleigh are awash with flannel, NC State students on tractors, and cheap stuffed animals that are really only worth their weight in ego after miraculously beating a rigged carnival game.
But what we love most about this tradition is the ingenuity of the fair's food options. Here are 10 of them:
1. Fried Oreos
You'll wish you had a glass of milk and some aspirin on standby, but fresh out of the fryer these can make you believe in a higher power.
2. Fried Pumpkin Pie
Boldly daring to go where not even your grandmother has gone before. It's like the Thanksgiving you've always dreamed of, a month early.
3. Fried Mac and Cheese
A no-forks-required take on the classic and beloved side dish. Notice a recurring theme yet?
4. Fry Me to the Moon
Essentially a heart attack in a paper bowl, this is the result of taking the aforementioned fried Oreos and kicking them up a notch. It features the addition of Reese's, a cupcake, and a MoonPie, all deep fried in golden glory.
5. Candy Apples
An easy and delicious way to relive the glory days of rebelling against your dentist. They come dipped in chocolate, caramel, and other miscellaneous sweet things, and if you look closely, you'll see that even Raleigh loves the Heels.
6. Turkey Leg
Follow the smell of smoke and you're guaranteed to find these. They're a lot bigger than chicken legs, so one leg in all its chargrilled splendor is more than enough for two people.
7. Roasted Corn
I grew up eating sweet corn like this, so it's nice to see that so many other people enjoy it too. It's a far cry from the canned stuff served in every school cafeteria and college dining hall. Salted and buttered down, it provides a pleasant reminder of home in the gloomy midst of midterms.
8. Fried Cheesecake
Thought I was done with the fried stuff? Well you thought wrong. If it's edible, the folks at the fair have probably dropped it in the deep fryer at some point, and cheesecake is no exception.
9. Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Cheese
This is the kind of resourcefulness that makes America awesome. If MacGyver was a chef, he would create something like this. It combines two perennial favorites, grilled cheese and bacon, and eliminates the filling carbs you get with bread (so you can save room for that fried cheesecake). As the Irish guys on the old Guiness commercials used to say... "Brilliant!"
10. Krispy Kreme Burger
Mankind may have peaked with this one, and perhaps that's why I saved it for last. Separately, Krispy Kreme and cheeseburgers have already earned their rightful places in the Gastronomic Hall of Fame. But somewhere... somehow... some prophetic pioneer had a vision for the two to become one. Whoever you are, wherever you are, my hat is off to you.
So go forth to the fair and eat all the fried and unhealthy food you can. Your stomach will forgive you later.