Nothing says summer quite like a carnival to keep you outdoors in the fun and sun. Carnivals are also one of the most amazingly heartwarming events of my childhood. I can’t remember ever being upset when I went to one. What I can remember is the intoxicating smells of cotton candy, popcorn, and funnel cake mixed with the equally enthralling atmosphere of the rides and games.
NYC may host a handful of fairs, but sometimes you’re not able to squeeze a visit into your schedule. So, the least I can do is help you experience some of the delicious food at home. While they may not be as crazy as some new additions, take a look at some of America’s favorite carnival concoctions and how you can get them if you live in New York.
1. FluffPop Cotton Candy
Maybe it’s not the classic hand-spun cotton candy on a stick, but this gourmet alternative will have your mouth watering just the same. Sticky cotton candy is sticky cotton candy, right?
FluffPop comes in a variety of flavors including Guava, Lychee, Pineapple, Strawberry, Caramel, Pumpkin Spice, and more. Their top seller right now is Rose Gold. They also have seasonal flavors throughout the year, and each order comes in cute little jars that can be reused after you’re done. They ship throughout the US, so wherever you are you can enjoy this tasty carnival staple.
2. Garrett’s Kettle Corn
Chicago natives know there’s no better place for popcorn than Garrett’s Popcorn. This iconic tourist trap attracts locals and visitors alike because of their top quality caramel, cheese, and kettle corns. Their most popular is probably their Chicago mix (a mixture of caramel corn and cheese corn), but for those looking to transport themselves to the fair, caramel or kettle is the way to go. The rich buttery flavor they impart into each kernel is unreal.
They ship anywhere and even have a storefront in NYC. The small shop is hidden between more well-known, larger shops near Penn Station, so be sure to keep an eye out. Or just order online. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
3. Amy’s Gourmet Apples
Remember the feeling of biting into a crunchy, shiny, candy-coated apple? The crack as you break through the candy on top and the crunch once you hit the apple? Well, you don’t have to leave your home to recreate the feeling again.
Amy’s Gourmet Apples start as jumbo Granny Smith’s and are covered in a deep red cinnamon and sugar coating. They’re a bit pricey, but let’s face it, you’re not going to eat it all in one sitting, so it’s really several snacks. And can you really put a price on nostalgia? If you’re more of a caramel apple fan, you can find plenty of options for those from Amy’s as well, including some with extra toppings like classic peanut, snickers, apple pie, and Oreo.
4. Pennsylvania General Store’s Soft Pretzels
Thanks to companies like Auntie Anne’s, soft pretzels are open to the masses a lot more freely. And they even deliver through sites like Postmates. But if you want a more authentic, fair-like pretzel that you can preserve and make when you want, take an online trip to Pennsylvania General Store for some Philly Soft Pretzels.
As their website notes, they “pack 24 of Philly’s finest soft pretzels along with Heinz mustard packets” into their signature gift box and ship throughout the United States. Pretzels and mustard? Yup, we’re sold.
5. P.S. Burgers’ Funnel Cake Fries
These might not be your traditional funnel cake, but it’s not so bad when you consider that it’s a mixture of some of the best fried foods merging together, funnel cake and French fries. In NYC, we’re lucky enough to have access to the best of food culture and the most bizarre, yet delectable hybrids, like the Funnel Cake Fries at P.S. Burgers on Carmine St. Order online and wait for edible bliss. Or take a trip to their storefront for some quicker and fresher satisfaction.
6. Deep Fried Twinkies from Ray’s Candy Store
Who better than a candy shop owner to fulfill all your deep-fried dreams? Take a trip to Ray’s Candy Store for some fantastic Twinkies. Ray will deep fry anything in the store (a true hero), but for an authentic fair snack stick with the staple. Some say he will even up the nom factor by adding bananas.
If you don’t want to leave the house or venture far, Walmart also sells a boxed brand that can be easily defrosted and made yourself (minus the fuss with messy batter making and deep fryers), and you can choose to have it delivered to you.
7. La Churreria Churros
Did you know that there is literally a churro haven hiding in NYC? La Churreria offers not only your typical churros with chocolate dipping sauce, but also stuffed varieties that you can choose to fill with chocolate, dulce de leche, or crema.
Their churros are perfectly crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and come in generous portions of 6 or 12 very large sticks along with an espresso cup filled with rich and thick chocolate dipping sauce. Let the sugar fall all over, like at the carnival itself, and recapture your inner child by making a huge mess.
Too busy to leave the office? Break out the computer and get whatever your inner child desires. And if you can’t choose, take this quiz first.