Do you view today’s fair fare as funky? You know, chicken fried bacon (State Fair of Texas), deep-fried Kool-Aid balls (San Diego County Fair) and spaghetti & meatballs on a stick (Minnesota State Fair)?
Well, someone at one time walked past a corn dog stand and said ‘It’ll never sell.’ Naysayers likely uttered similar words about peanut butter and ice cream cones.
And you know the rest of the story.
From whence they came
It might surprise you to know that some of the world’s most popular foods first gained mass exposure on a fair ground or carnival somewhere. Of course, all of these origins of notoriety are debatable.
- Snow Cones — 1919, State Fair of Texas
- Cotton Candy — 1904, St. Louis Exposition (World’s Fair)
- Corn Dogs — 1942, State Fair of Texas
- Funnel Cakes — 1950s, Kutztown Folk Festival (Pennsylvania)
- Hamburgers — 1904, St. Louis Exposition
- Dr. Pepper — 1904, St. Louis Exposition
- Ice Cream Cones — 1904, St. Louis Exposition
- Peanut Butter — 1904, St. Louis Exposition
- Smoked Turkey Legs — 1970s, Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Did you know? Disney World sells almost 2 million smoked turkey legs annually.
At some point in the past few years, the masses decided that hot peppers have a place with sweets, while bacon is delicious … everywhere. At some point in our grocer’s freezer we might just see:
- Fried Beer — State Fair of Texas
- Elvis on a Stick — Wisconsin State Fair
- Reindeer Sausage — Alaska State Fair
- Kangaroo Spiedies (sandwich) — The Great New York State Fair
- Pickle Pops — Kansas State Fair
- Python Kebabs — California Exposition & State Fair
- Deep-Fried Jelly Beans — The Big E (Massachusetts State Fair)
- Fried Pepsi — North Carolina State Fair
- Fried Coke — State Fair of Texas
Did you know? Pabst beer won a blue ribbon in 1893 at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. Five years later the company officially changed the name to Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Though Donkey Tails eventually made their way to the State Fair of Texas, the dish — which contains no donkey parts — originated at Tolbert’s Chili Parlor in Dallas. I was introduced to this guilty-pleasure by my friend Brenda Nicholson, who also happens to own Fabulous CakeBalls, the sweetest treats around.
All-Beef Hot Dogs
Flour tortillas (at least 9-inch)
Vegetable oil (or Butter)
Cut a lengthwise slit in the hot dogs and stuff with shredded cheese (I stuff as much as possible). Roll tightly in a soft flour tortilla — folding in the sides — and secure with a couple of toothpicks.
Frying in vegetable oil: Heat oil to about 350F and fry Donkey Tails until golden brown.
Frying in butter: Brown Donkey Tails slowly in the skillet until they are browned on all sides.
Donkey Tails are traditionally served with mustard, salsa and a ‘shot’ of chili. (Hopefully you know to remove the toothpicks before eating. If you chip a tooth on one or choke, your attorney needs to know that I warned you and that I’m broke.)