Top 10 Best and Worst Foods On-A-Stick

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I got to thinking: What good is a top 10 list once the fair is over? I only have 1 item left and I have already eaten it before. I know where it falls so…here are the good and the bad of the 2014 fair.

Top 10 Best Foods

1) Deep Fried Snickers, Deep Fried Candy Bar Booth

These are just so over the top and indulgent. You would never eat these outside of the fair and they have the perfect texture.

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2) Super Stick, Spaghetti Eddie’s

Prepared to order, pepperoni with mozzarella cheese inside wrapped in a buttery crust. By far the best pizza-type food I came across.

 Super Stick

3) Cheese On-A-Stick

You have to visit the booth by the Giant Yellow Slide. These are always melty good and a must have every year.

Cheese on a stick

4) Handmade Nut Roll

I love nut rolls and these are served still warm. They are very sugary and sweet. I would get one to take home.

Nut Roll

5) Pronto Pup/Big Dog Corn Dog/Poncho Dog

Choose whichever one you like best but they all make the list and are fabulous. Try them all like I do.

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6) Breakfast On-A-Stick, The Sandwich Stop

This is a fun, unique item that had great flavor that I haven’t found elsewhere. A must-try fair food. Fried Breakfast

7) Chocolate Covered Cheesecake, Granny’s Cheesecake

Frozen cheesecake, fresh dipped in chocolate. They are better than any popsicle and a wonderful dessert.

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8) Tater Twister, Texas Tater

This was really fun to eat. Although it was a bit greasy it was a “single serving” size and I loved that I could peel it apart as I ate it. Softer than chips, crunchier than french fries.

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9) Deep Fried Baklava, Dino’s Gyros

This is as flaky as flaky can be. A very sweet treat and tastes like traditional Baklava, but with added layers of crust.

 Baklava

 

10) Mocha On-A-Stick, MN Farmers Union

While I thought it was a bit over-priced ($5.75), it was creamy and had a great coffee flavor. image

I had Mickey’s Beef Kabobs as my number ten favorite but with such terrible pork and chicken I was having a hard time determining if the beef was the rule or the exception. You will have to determine this one on your own.


 

Top 10 Worst Foods

1) Wine Crusted Deep Fried Brie On-A-Stick, Minnesota Wine Country

This was awful. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

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2) Chicken Nachos On-A-Stick, Tejas

The meat was terribly fatty and it wasn’t actually on a stick, just the chicken was. It had pumped nacho cheese and cheap tortilla chips.

Chicken Nachos

3) Deep Fried Cookie Dough, Sonny’s

This was very undercooked and had zero texture.

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4) Gummy & Jaw Breaker – World’s Largest On-A-Stick, iCandy

I think the lesson here is to not buy anything that is prepackaged. There are so many freshly made snacks, that buying something that you purchase year round isn’t the route I would take. There are a million other options to get your sweets fix.

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5) Pizza On-A-Stick, Tino’s

This was very blah. It wasn’t hot, it didn’t have a lot flavor, it just took up space in my stomach.

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6) Puff Daddy, Sausage Sister’s and Me

This tasted like it had been under the heat lamps too long. Get their Twisted Sister instead, much better.

7) Buffalo Kabobs, Minnekabobs

The flavor of this was bland and the price was outrageous. I don’t think it counts as a healthy option either since it sits in a marinade once it is grilled.

Buffalo

8) Alligator Sausage, Bayou Bob’s Gator Stand

This sausage was too fatty. It tasted great while I was eating it, but left me feeling very blah when it was gone.

9) Fried Fruit, Fried Fruit Stand

The is a bad combination and the fruit tastes like it came out of a freezer or can. The warmth of the fruit and the greasiness of the batter were a terrible texture. These guys sell Deep Fried Olives…go that route instead.

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Fried Olives with cream cheese

10) Pickle On-A-Stick, Fried Pickles

These pickles are just too big. They have lots of seeds in the middle and are very soft. I love pickles, but these ones are too large.  Try the pickles from Pickle Dog instead. They are smaller and crunchier.

Pickle on a stick

 

Please keep in mind that this is MY OWN opinion. Most of the vendors on the worst food list have other options available, some of which have now become my favorites.

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August 26 – Day 6, Food Recap

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Day 6!!! Typically, Tuesday is the lowest attended day of the fair, and I appreciated an easy day of navigating. 

I worked in the morning so I didn’t get to the fair until 2:30 pm. I hadn’t eaten anything yet so I decided to start with the Fried Veggies from Vegie Fries. I had never tried these before because I don’t come to the fair to eat vegetables. Once I started eating them I realized they are really just french fries and onion rings with a deceptive name. These had a slightly fluffier batter to them; less crunch than fries or onion rings. I would order them again. They were a good product with a bad name. 

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I needed a main course for lunch so I stopped by Mancini’s for a Sausage On-A-Stick. My first thought was: great another stinking  hotdog, but after the first bite I was surprised how different it tasted. It was pretty spicy and covered in a marinara sauce. It was also accompanied by some great bread. I didn’t have to eat the bread but I did because it was a nice pairing! If you like a little spice, try this one. 

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I walked over to Mickey’s across the street from the food building to grab a Beef Kabob. I had never tried any of their food before because it reminded me of every other fair vendor. To my surprise, these guys had great food! The beef was extremely tender and fell right off the stick. It came with a tortilla which seemed like an odd pairing, but they had lots of condiments to choose from and you could easily have made yourself a taco. Best kabob I have had so far. 

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On my way to my next stop I stumbled across these two. So cute! I told them I was going to post them on my blog and they looked a bit confused. None the less….

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Pretzel House serves up awesome pretzels so I was pretty pumped to try the Pretzel Dog. Unfortunately mine was not hot, not even warm. It could have been awesome, but it just wasn’t.

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For dessert I had a Deep Fried Twinkie. I am glad I tried it! It was very light and fluffy and I can see why people like them. I imagine they taste similar coming out of the factory oven. The Twinkie was hot and gooey with just a little more breading than an original Twinkie. It was a glorified Twinkie but a fun treat. 

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I knew I would have to tackle the Gummy eventually so I went for it. I thought it would taste like a gummy bear but I couldn’t even bite into it. I was a sticky mess trying to eat this mustache. Thankfully I sat next to a hilarious man for 45 minutes who told me all about his adventurous day at the fair. Do not get this, it wasn’t good. 

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You can’t go wrong with a fresh dipped Chocolate Covered Banana. Granny’s Cheesecakes does it right and this is a nice treat on a hot day. 

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I had a Paul Bunyan Bar from West End Creamery on my list, but I came to find out they only had Blue Bunny Orange Dreamsicles. Talk about disappointment. I paid $4.00 for something I can get at the grocery store year round for a fraction of the cost. They have so many other options, don’t waste your money on this. 

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I headed back to Peterson’s Grill to grab their Grilled Chicken Breast. It has the same seasoning as their pork chop, which is delicious, but I thought it seemed a little saltier on the chicken. Overall it was a bit salty, but grilled perfectly. 

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My last stop of the day was for Stuffed Jalapeños On-A-Stick. These were not on-a-stick and had been under the lamps way too long. I am pretty sure these don’t count as officially being on-a-stick which means I ate them for “fun.” Truth is, it wasn’t very fun, and they weren’t very good. 

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My girlfriends came out tonight so I had some company. They stopped at O’Gara’s and grabbed the Pretzel Curds and had rave reviews. I didn’t try one because well…it didn’t have a stick but they looked fabulous. 

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I have 11 items left on my list. I checked about 50 vendors today to confirm I didn’t miss anything and still have about 100 more vendors to go before I can officially say:

I ATE ALL THE ITEMS ON-A-STICK AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR.

August 25 – Day 5, Food Recap

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It was a beautiful day for the fair! Perfect weather and lots of fun people were in attendance. Unfortunately, I had some of the worst food so far today. Read on to learn what to avoid!

Round 1


My morning started around 8:15 and I stopped into the Gass Station on the southeast corner of the food building for their Pancake Battered Sausage. I thought the sausage was a bit sweet but the outside breading was great. The women at the booth mentioned it was Jimmy Dean’s sausage, but it just tasted a little off compared to the dough. I also grabbed their Corn Dog Bites. I didn’t realize these were on-a-stick until they told me. These were great. I would highly suggest going with these if you are with a group and everyone wants a little bit of everything. This is one order (SIX!) and it has probably been one of the best “bang for your buck” foods I have found. It was $5.00. 

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Just inside the food building I grabbed Sonny’s Deep Fried Cookie Dough. These came out a year or two ago and were talked about quite a bit, but I hadn’t ever tried them until this morning. I went back to the booth because I didn’t think they were cooked enough, but the gentleman assured me they were (and even if they weren’t he said there wasn’t any egg in the batter). Either way, I thought they were very, very undercooked. They were very mushy and runny and the combo of outside breading and cookie dough center reminded me of an undercooked cake. It was terrible and I would not advise getting these. 

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And this is how I felt after the last bite.

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I wasn’t sure I had much more in me so I wondered around for a bit and grabbed a lollipop. I knew I was going to have to smash this thing to pieces in order to get it done, so I did just that. I had it gone in less than 5 minutes. 

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My breakfast dessert was Chai on-a-stick from the Farmers Union Booth. I thought the mocha was a better choice and had a more distinct flavor. 

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Round 2


I came back to the fair for dinner and grabbed an Italian Meatball on-a-stick from Spaghetti Eddies (they have 5 different things on-a-stick, good thing they are nice!). This wasn’t as good as the Pepperoni Super Stick but it was a close second. These guys have got those pizza sticks down. If you are in the mood for a pizza type food this is going to be your best bet.

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I headed up machinery hill to grab some Texas Steak Out foods. I started with the Texas Tater Dog and then grabbed a Texas Tater. They were both very good but a bit greasy. The Texas Tater was great because I am always eyeing up those huge baskets of spiral potatoes that tastes like chips but never buy one because I don’t want to eat the whole thing. The Texas Tater tastes very similar and is served in a single person serving (kind of). 

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Next stop: Deep Fried Olives. I love olives and I thought these had a great crust to them. The olives are filled with cream cheese and then breaded and fried. They had a nice sauce that came with them as well. If you like olives, these are worth trying. 

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I headed back to The Shrimp Shack for a Shrimp Dog. This is essentially a corn dog with a mayo/shrimp mixture in place of the hot dog. I thought it had pretty good flavor but the texture was off. I am a big texture person and there wasn’t really anything to chew; it was all very soft. I wouldn’t go back for the Shrimp Dog, but when I was there I saw those grilled shrimp again and wished I could have had seconds of those. 

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Still feeling pretty good I headed to MN Wine Country for their Wine Crusted Deep Fried Brie on-a-stick. I thought this would be perfect. I love cheese and I like wine, so it should be a good combo. WRONG. VERY WRONG. It had a very distinct alcohol flavor to it and as I swallowed it I thought I was taking a shot of liquor. After the shot went down I had to follow it up with a molten cheese chaser.

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I cannot stress how horrible this was to eat. I felt defeated as I sat and stared at the last two gigantic cheese puffs left in the tray. Just then my husband, who is on vacation in another country, called. I told him I was thinking about quitting and that I wasn’t going to be able to finish. For some crazy reason, he convinced me I had it in  me and we talked about strategy to get it done. With his words of encouragement I waited for everything to cool down, breathed though me mouth and accomplished the impossible (okay maybe I am exaggerating a little, but it was a stomach turner).

That basically did me in and the thought of food became very horrible but… as I walked towards the gate I saw Deep Fried Shortcake so I just had to grab it. It wasn’t anything special. They covered the crispy shortcake with a watery syrup mix which kind of ruined the whole thing. It tasted like a plain ol’ shortcake and I didn’t think it was anything you couldn’t put together yourself. 

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I have finished 70 foods so far and am still ahead of schedule. I have a bigger day planned for tomorrow and think I will be nearing the end sooner than I anticipated.

I think I can see the finish line.

Corn Dog VS. Pronto Pup

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What is the real difference between the two and which one is better?

Let’s keep this short and sweet (PUN!)

Corn Dog’s are made with cornmeal or corn flour. They have a sweeter taste to them.

Pronto Pup’s are made with flour or with pancake batter.

My response: I LOVE THEM BOTH

Tip: Don’t get a corn dog from any old stand, make sure their specialty is corn dogs! The vendors that sell corn dogs in addition to other foods (like cotton candy and caramel apples) use frozen corn dogs, not fresh dipped ones. If you don’t see the wheel of spinning dogs or a bucket a batter, run! I made this mistake before and was highly disappointed in my shelf stable corn dog.

If you are still really unsure the best options are a Big Dog Corn Dog or a Pronto Pup Stand.

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Photo Credit: Sara Rice

My Favorite Foods…

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As a self-proclaimed Fair Expert I have lots of different favorite foods based on my mood, but I want to share some of my all-time favorites. These are the ones that I get every year, no matter how I am feeling. They are classics; nothing new or crazy, just honest comfort food.

  • Pronto Pup: Yes I know the debate over the Pronto Pup and the Corn Dog, but I don’t have a favorite. I love them both and I get them both. They are both unique items and have very different tastes. Learn more about the differences here.
  • Corn Dog: I like the Big Dog Corn Dogs – foot long please!
  • Cheese Curds: Which are better the ones in the food building or the ones next to the Ye Old Mill (Mouse Trap)? This too is a long standing debate.
  • Deep Fried Snickers: How can you not love a crunchy, creamy candy bar dipped in fat?
  • Deep Fried Oreos: Yes, I eat the Snickers and the Oreos – typically on separate days.
  • Fresh Cut French Fries: There are some great fries options at the fair; Fresh Cut has my heart. A handful dipped in vinegar and ketchup = perfection

…And these are a few of my favorite things!

When I was a kid…

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I have been attending the State Fair my entire life, I have actually never missed a year.  I come from a family of 7 and some how my parents always managed to round us up and cart us through the craziness. This was before the days of cell phones or leashes; one kid on dad’s shoulders, one kid walking, three in a red wagon, rotate as needed. Some might say my parents are brave (or nuts) carting 5 kids under 5 years old through a sea of people and chaos, but I don’t think they would have had it any other way. They wanted to show us all the glorious things the fair has to offer.

We have always been early risers and getting to the fair by 7 am just means beating the crowds and eating a foot-long hot dog for breakfast (they open early!).

Then we would be off to the barns and the Colosseum – nothing like smelling fresh manure as the sun is coming up. This is where we started a non-stop walk-a-thon through the Great Minnesota Get Together. When one or a few of us wanted to stop and check something out, we would just play catch-up with the group….and since we have a set route, we knew that if we stayed on our set path, we were bound to catch-up. By the end of the day we had all seen and gotten to eat everything we could have ever wanted.

Even though it seems like an impossible task, my parents never missed a corner of the fair. We saw everything! Somehow we managed to get down every street and be stuffed to the brim, before 1 or 2 pm.

On our way out, toting bags of goodies, passed out children, and bucket fulls of cookies, we would ask our parents for a pony or a giant yellow slide in the backyard. Some things they were more likely to get us than others. 🙂

-Mandy

Dig In While You Can…

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To be honest, I have always been a foodie. There is just something about food that has my heart. I love cooking, I love the presentation, I love eating, I love being full; it is comforting. Some people don’t share the same love, but I could talk about food for days.

Like most people, I start the fair thinking I am only going to have a few things, then before long, I am 7 or 8 food items in and insist on trying it all. Gluttony and over indulgence seem to tie in perfectly with the fair.  I would convince myself that it is fine:

  • I will only be here a few times.
  • You only live once.
  • I will just go for some long runs and balance this all out.
  • Just one more bite.
  • There are only a few days a year when these foods are available.

Of course that’s not how it ever works, but looking back I don’t regret a single bite. Since my family is so large, and I am typically with a big group of people, we would have lots of mouths to share the food with. A little taste of everything. Some like the sweet things, some like the fried things, thankfully for me, I like them all!

I am willing to try just about everything. Just think: you might be missing out on your new favorite thing. What if it is amazing? You passed it up to have something that you have had a ten times already. The old stand by will be there if the new item isn’t any good, so why not give it a try?

A new fair season means opportunities to discover new favorites, new chances to reunite with old food loves, and new sights, smells, and tastes that have been absent from your life for the last 353 days.

-Mandy