By Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief
As a native Arizonian, my expectations of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas definitely included a wide variety of all things fried and suspiciously rickety metal rides. I was not, however, prepared for the theme-park experience that is only offered to those who attend this truly Texas-sized state fair.
There was certainly all sorts of food and attractions, but I was surprised to find a multitude of shopping booths that sold everything from hot sauce to handmade soaps, a petting zoo with farm animals as well as zebras and a giraffe, an enormous car show and a few museums offering a glimpse into Texas’ well-preserved history.
While I enjoyed these additions to my traditional state fair expectations, I drove up to Dallas for one reason and one reason only—to eat my body weight in crispy, crunchy fair food.
Fletcher’s Corny Dogs
No state fair is complete without a classic corn dog, and Texas wouldn’t be Texas if it didn’t offer a few dozen options for this fair food staple. Their most famous corn dogs, however, are none other than Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, which have been sold at the State Fair of Texas since 1942. Lines at one of the few Fletcher’s stands can stretch as far as two or three stands over.
Luckily, these sausages on a stick were the first on my list to try, so I only waited in line for five minutes instead of 20. After covering my corn dog with ketchup and mustard, the first bite was everything I could have hoped for: The crispy, golden batter cooked to perfection gave way to a smoky, warm hot dog. I was reminded of my first trip to the Arizona State Fair and the corn dog I had that night. The crunch of the corn dog mixed with nostalgia brought made me hungry for more of the State Fair of Texas’ offerings.
Deep Fried Sweet Tea
Building off of the deliciousness of the corn dog, I was ready to try something a bit more … “out there.” Various stands boasted fried sodas and soups, and my curiosity got the better of me as my next order was deep fried sweet tea.
From the outside, the fried sweet tea looked a bit like a McDonald’s apple pie and was even complete with a caramel drizzle. Not sure what to expect, I bite into it for a small taste, and I was greeted by the heat of freshly-fried dessert mixed with the cold, almost slimy texture of the sweet tea. The gooeyness of the tea intrigued me and I went for a second bite, only to decide that this type of fair food was probably not for me.
The woman behind the counter at the stand said that they make their deep fried sweet tea by freezing the tea in small amounts, and then battering the frozen bits in graham cracker batter before frying it and glazing it with caramel. This frozen-then-fried method gives this dessert its differing temperatures, and while I wouldn’t recommend it, it was a flavor I won’t forget anytime soon.
Deep Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
Looking for a way to get rid of the slippery feeling the sweet tea gave my tongue, I decided to try the fried version of my favorite candy: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It was served with vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce.
The Reese’s itself was encased in a pie-dough-like crust, and upon cutting the treat open, a flood of chocolate and peanut butter oozed onto the ice cream. While I enjoyed this dessert more than the sweet tea, I felt as if the crust could have been dusted in some sort of sugar or cinnamon to help bring out more of the peanut butter flavor. My only other complaint was that the size of the morsel was slightly small for $4, and perhaps the vendor could have included two of the peanut butter cups instead of just one.
Deep Fried Spaghetti and Meatballs
The final stop on my fried food adventure had to be a whole meal rolled into one crispy bite. There were plenty of other foods that were covered in bacon or smothered in gravy, or both, but I chose to try fried spaghetti and meatballs.
The dish resembled a giant breaded meatball covered in sauce and parmesan cheese. When I stuck my fork into the ball, noodles and flecks of meat spilled out. While not entirely awful, I probably would not order this again, simply because it reminded me too much of a soggy, re-heated spaghetti casserole with no real flavor.
The State Fair of Texas is open from Sept. 29 to Oct. 22 at Fair Park in Dallas. While I’ve come to the conclusion that frying something does not always make it taste better, you should experience the fair’s many offerings for yourself. Check out the rides, shops and car show while your are munching on some of the famous fried foods.