A true Minnesotan will tell you that our State Fair is the highlight of the summer months, topping even weekends at the cabin and biking around Lake Calhoun. The Fair is the place where fun meets food; you can stuff your face with Sweet Martha’s Cookies and unlimited chocolate milk in one moment, and go careening down the Giant Slide in the next.
Perhaps the Fair’s most famous attraction, however, is not the Midway theme park or the Miracle of Life barn, but its reputation for providing the strangest food combinations ever sold commercially. Think: Alligator on a Stick, Beer Gelato, Hot Dish on a Stick and Deep-Fried Pig Ears.
The 2016 Minnesota State Fair food lineup doesn’t disappoint, featuring many new and strange items. Here are 9 of this year’s weirdest additions.
1. Sheep Dog
Don’t get your hopes up, you (probably) won’t be finding any cute and cuddly sheep/dog hybrids at the fair this year. However, you do have the opportunity to try this lamb-meat hot dog, featuring raw sauerkraut, garlic-sauteed kale, quinoa and honey-mustard sauce.
Find this upscale hot dog at Lamb Shoppe in the Food Building.
2. Spam Sushi
To me, this new food is an abomination to the sophisticated and delicious name of sushi. On the other hand, you can’t knock it ’til you try it. Maybe this upscale way to eat Spam will make it more appetizing. The jury is still out on that one.
Find this odd combination at Sushi Rolls in the Warner Coliseum.
3. Burnt Butt Ends
Yes, this is the real name. After you get over the fact that you’re eating something labeled ‘burnt’ and ‘butt,’ perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy these premium cuts of pork, “smoked over oak and served with onions and jalapeños.”
Find this oddly-named roast at RC’s BBQ on West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets.
4. Paneer on a Spear
Finally, your favorite cheesy Indian staple is available in stick form. Following the Minnesota State Fair’s trend of everything-on-a-stick, this portable, deep-fried version of Indian paneer with tomato garlic chutney might be a new crowd favorite this year.
Find your Indian cheese fix at Hot Indian in the Midtown Global Market.
5. Spam Curds
Clearly, sushi was not enough. Canned-meat lovers will rejoice as they follow up their SPAM Sushi with these deep-fried cubes of cheese-flavored SPAM. Are SPAM curds the new cheese curds? Only time will tell.
Find these interesting curds at SPAM, east of Chambers Street, just south of the Grandstand.
6. Italian Taco
One of the tastier-sounding new Fair foods, the Italian taco is a zesty twist on the Latin American staple. It’s filled with “Italian sausage and mozzarella, topped with roasted bruschetta, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce and parmesan cheese, and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze.”
Find these fancy tacos at Green Mill, in Family Fair at Baldwin Park.
7. Reuben Pickle Dog
In addition to the Sheep Dog, this new inside-out Reuben Dog features a pickle spear, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in corned beef. You could even call it a low-carb Reuben (so it’s healthy, right?).
Find this inside-out ‘dog at Pickle Dog, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets.
8. Iron Range Meat and Potatoes
This dish embodies the essence of Northern Minnesota. The odd combination of seasoned beef topped with cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes captures Minnesotans’ love of meatloaf, and the Northern Minnesotan affinity for hearty, meaty meals.
Find this predictably Minnesotan dish at Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street at The North Woods.
9. Carpe Diem Taiyaki
Taiyaki, a fish-shaped buttermilk miso waffle cone, is filled with “balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble and a fresh strawberry.” This strange-looking dessert may be the perfect opportunity for an artsy Instagram picture.
Seize the day and find this aesthetic dessert at The Rabbit Hole, located at the Midtown Global Market.