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.

 ProntoPup

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 24 – Day 4, Food Recap

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Day 4 started off quick and fast. My strategy today was to move quickly before the heat and the rain came through. I was also trying to beat the Sunday rush. 

I have been dreading/a little excited for the Scotch Eggs next to the barns. I love all the ingredients in these but I just wasn’t sure about the combo. The line was surprisingly long for 8 am and I took that as a good sign. It is a hard boiled egg with sausage wrapped around it then breaded and fried. They were VERY good. I thought it was a great breakfast and topped one half with maple syrup and the other with horseradish (per the vendors recommendation). I thought they were both very tasty and I would eat this again. The only thought was that the breading was a little dry – but for me that just meant more condiments. 

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I was still in the mood for breakfast type foods so I thought a Gluten Free Beer Battered Brat might fit the bill. This tasted surprisingly similar to a corn dog and I thought it was well done. If you are looking for a GF option I would suggest Sonny’s. They also have the ingredients posted right on the counter so you can see what you are getting. I love that!

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I have never had catfish before but the Walleye On-A-Stick booth was a great first impression. I actually liked the catfish better than the walleye that I had yesterday. I don’t think they tasted too different but the catfish was $1.00 cheaper and seemed a little more moist. Both the brat and the catfish are inside the food building.

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I felt like I was on a roll with the fish so I decided The Shrimp Shack was a good next stop. I tried the grill shrimp first followed by the bacon wrapped jumbo shrimp. The grilled shrimp come in cajun or garlic butter, so I opted for the cajun. I thought they were well done and they had just enough spice. I also thought if you were looking for a lighter, healthier option this would be a good choice. The bacon wrapped shrimp was very good but I feel like there should have been one more. They give you three but for $7.00 the portion was a bit small, especially compared to the grilled shrimp.

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I knew I had to keep moving so I stopped off in the International Bazaar at Henri’s. Henri’s has a good beer selection and they have really nice service. The bacon wrapped turkey tenderloin was very flavorful. I thought the meat was juicy and the bacon gave it a good flare. It was a little heavy so having someone to share it with would have been nice. It was meat, on meat and that is extremely filling. 

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As you can tell in my eyes above I was getting pretty full. I needed something fresh and sweet and knew just where to get it. Midtown Global Market inside the bazaar has whole mangos on-a-stick. These were fabulous. They were perfectly ripe, scored so they were easier to eat in sections and the best part is that it was just plain mango; nothing fried, added or buttered. It was so nice to have something fresh. This is THE spot to get your fresh fruit. It was awesome and I wish I could have had another one. (My love for this could have been from days of greasy food, but I really did think it was perfect.)

Mango

I was still craving sweet things so I stopped in and got a carmel apple and some cotton candy. These are fair food classics and you can’t go wrong. They reminded me of my childhood and I loved every bite. The apple was served on a pop top! And the gentleman that made my cotton candy said he was on the news yesterday and felt famous….so I HAD to take a pic with him. (Who would pass up a chance to take a picture with a famous person?!)

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While I was down by the GrandStand I popped in and grabbed a Cow Pop and a dark chocolate covered marshmallow (chocolate covered s’more) from Ultimate Confections. They were both smooth and surprisingly cheap! The marshmallow was only .50 cents. I would recommend either one if you are in the mood for a small bite of something sweet and don’t want to be over whelmed with too much of a good thing. 

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My sweet tooth was strong this morning so I decided a chocolate dipped cheesecake was in the cards. Granny’s Cheesecakes did not let me down. This was very good. It’s frozen cheesecake and then fresh dipped in white or milk chocolate. If you like cheesecake this is a tasty snack. It was like a cheesecake popsicle. You can find them just east of the yellow slide towards the butterfly tent. 

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I finished my morning off with coffee on-a-stick from the Minnesota Farmers Union. They had a live band so I sat and enjoyed some music while I finished off my day. The flavor was perfect and the texture was very creamy – it wasn’t icy like a popsicle. I also liked this stop because there were lots of older folks hanging out and as you know, I love hearing their stories. It was a fun ending to a fun morning. 

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Can you believe I did all that in 3.5 hours and all before 11:30 am? This puts me at 59 items in 4 days. 

The rest of the day brings the gym and some real life activities outside of the fair.

See you tomorrow!

 

 

August 22 – Day 2, Food Recap

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Day Two: Done!

Today was a long day filled with lots of miscellaneous stops. I had pretty fantastic timing and seemed to get everything “fresh” out of the fryer. Served super hot and served just how it was meant to be eaten.

Round 1


I knew I wanted to start my day off with the Deep Fried Breakfast from The Sandwich Stop next to the Milk Booth. It was pretty amazing: pancakes with ham, cheese, and bacon on the inside all dipped in batter and deep fried on a stick. These guys are great at the deep fried sandwiches and this one did not disappoint.

 Breakfast On-A-Stick    Fried Breakfast

I made my way up to the pork chop to get a little protein. The stand next to the dairy building is my personal favorite (Peterson’s). These guys were very friendly and the pork chop was a pretty easy one to finish.

Peterson's Pork Chop

I wanted to see if I could cross off all the foods on Judson this morning so I moved into the International Bazaar. There are a lot of great vendors in here and I love taking my time through these shops. I stopped at the Holy Land Deli for two items. The lamb on a stick was pretty good, tasted similar to beef but a bit chewier. I also tried the stuffed grape leaves and these were way better than and pre-made ones that I have tried before.

Holy Land Deli   Lamb  Stuffed Grape Leaves

My breakfast was topped off with a dessert of a Deep Fried S’More from Oodles of Noodles. The flavor was there and it could have been SO good, but unfortunately mine was undercooked and the marshmallows towards the bottom were still hard. It was also a bit doughy. I finished it, but I was glad that was my last item before I took a break.

Deep Fried S'More   Deep Fried S'More

Round 2


After work I was surprisingly very hungry so I quick stopped at Poncho Dog and thought it tasted just like it should: a classic corn dog. No surprises here, so I moved right onto the Wild Rice Corn Dog. This too tasted just like a plain corn dog (I am starting to sense a theme). I didn’t think it was anything over the top, and it was 50 cents more than the Poncho dog. If I had to do it again, I would just get the Poncho Dog.

 Poncho Dog   Wild Rice Corn Dog

I knew Spaghetti Eddie’s had good food but I saw the Super Stick and was intrigued. The crew at this place was fun and the Super Stick was a chart topper. This was a WAY better than any other pizza type object on a stick I have ever had at the fair. It was hot, perfectly portioned bites and had an amazing dipping sauce. I could have probably eaten two…

 Super Stick   Super Stick

Since I was still a little hungry I topped off my dinner with Walleye from inside the food building. It seemed like they had some diehard fans, but to me, it seemed like $5.00 was a lot for the portion I got. It tasted like fried fish, but for the cost I would have expected something grander.

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I needed a little break so I grabbed a seat and chatted with whomever was the lucky occupant of the rest of the bench.

I ran into my God Mother who was attending the Aretha concert and we went up to Giggles to get a Salad on-a-stick. It was so nice to have something fresh and it was pretty easy to eat. I will say however, that it wasn’t really on-a-stick. It was lettuce in a cup with some sticks on top. I was still happy it was fresh.

 Salad On-A-Stick

She wanted to try something sweet and my will power was weakening fast. I tried to hold off until closer to the end of the challenge to eat one of my all time favorites, Deep Fried Snickers, but I couldn’t. These are so indulgent and so over the top but they are perfectly cooked and are a warm gooey, crunchy treat I can’t escape the fair without. These just make me happy.

Deep Fried Snickers   Deep Fried Snickers

We moved onto the West End Market and saw Jonny Pops. One of the owners was there and said they started this company in college and this was their first year out at the fair. 120 calories, 6 grams of fat. It was a nice cold treat. I tried the strawberry rhubarb (limited time state fair offer) and it was great. Better than a regular popsicle.

 Jonny Pops Owner      Jonny Pops Nurtition

Next up, fried fruit. This was absolutely not good. It seemed like some of the fruit might have been from can/jar and I just don’t know that it was a good mix of flavors. I wouldn’t recommend it and do not want to eat it again. My face explains the my real feelings.

 Deep Fried Fruit

My last stop was a very disappointing Chicken Nachos on-a-stick. I had to wait a while for it to come up and this is what was presented to me:

 Chicken Nachos   Chicken Nachos

Does that look like nachos on a stick? It was chicken on-a-stick with nachos under it. The chicken was very, very fatty and the nachos tasted like something that might be served at a kids soccer game. This was the most painful one I have had to eat so far. I was mad it wasn’t actually on-a-stick, and I was sad I had to eat the whole thing.

30 out of 94 with some more to be added as I discover them.

I am on a roll!! Sweet Dreams (PUN!)

August 21 – Day 1 Food Recap

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Round 1

Wow! What a day, I cannot believe how many great people I met today and many great “on-a-stick” items I got to check off my list.

It was pouring rain but I started my morning talking to K-Twin Radio. It was so fun to meet the crew and it was something I have never gotten to experience before.  After a quick interview I headed out to start my adventure.image

First item on the list was a Pronto Pup but they didn’t open until 9 am so I spent some time wondering around checking out the new gardens. Pronto Pups are amazing. It was gone in 4 bites.

ProntoPup

Followed by alligator sausage from Bayou Bobs, falafel from Falafel King, and key lime pie from Key Lime Pie on-a-Stick.

Alligator Sausage  Falafel  Key Lime Pie

 

I was not a fan of the alligator. It was very fatty and just not my style. The falafel was fine, but nothing special. I loved the key lime pie! It was sour and sweet and a great gram cracker crust. So happy I tried this one. I will be getting more of these in years to come.

Next up was Spaghetti on a Stick from Oodles of Noodles.

Spaghetti On a StickI think this could have been good, but I got one that had been sitting out for a while. I think the potential was there, but it just wasn’t that great. The inside texture was fine (noodles mixed with meat!) and it was a little spicy, but the outside was mushy and I was a little disappointed. If I ever got it again, I would wait for a fresh one!

Baklava from Dino’s Gyros

Baklava

Baklava

First person to order the deep fried Baklava

Ordering this was pretty fun! The young man that served it to me told me I was the first person to ever order it. They were super delicate and had a very rich and light inside. I think I got an end piece because there was a hard edge in it, but I don’t think that is normal. I would absolutely order it again and I would recommend it to others. However, it is so rich you need to split it between two or three people. Dino’s nailed it. 

Topped off my morning with a WonderBar from Minimelts

WonderBar

Frizzy hair with my WonderBar

Basically just ice cream dipped in chocolate and nuts. You can’t really mess that up. It was great since the temperature was starting to get super muggy after the rain.


Round 2

When I returned after work I started my dinner off with salmon on-a-stick from the Fish and Chips booth inside the Food Building. I ended up going back later to get the Scallops on-a-stick since it was Thrifty Thursday and they were on special. I would say the salmon was MUCH better.

 

Salmon      Scallops

 

I knew I wanted to try the pizza on-a- stick by Tino’s but was a little disappointed in this one too. It was pretty doughy and not that hot. Maybe they were still working out some kinks on day one.  Since I was walking and eating I stumbled upon the fried pickle booth next to the new transit hub so I decided to order a pickle on-a-stick, I absolutely love pickles, but for some reason I like mini pickles, the seeds inside the giant ones make them just a little too mushy. I ate it of course and it was fine, but I am looking forward to the Pickle Dog on a later date.

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I needed a little break after this so I stopped next to the DNR booth and watch people for a while. The Toby Keith concert was in the line-up so there were lots of “country style” folks to check out.

After a little breather I moved onto the tater tot hot-dish on-a-stick from Ole and Lena’s. I was pretty nervous to try this one, because my mother makes her tater tot hot-dish with “real” frozen tater tots, but this one seemed more like a corn dog with a side of cream of mushroom soup. I didn’t taste any potato but it was something interesting to try. It was a lot sweeter than a regular corn dog. 

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Where are the tots?

Popped into the cheese on-a-stick booth next and of course thought of my dear friends Kelly and Sarah. They are Wisconsin-ites and loves their cheese. These are fabulous and always a hit with me. The booth right below the Giant Yellow Slide always serves super hot and gooey cheese. Fantastic.

Cheese on a stick

In other random stops I had a homemade nut roll which was great! I would have never ordered it if it weren’t for this challenge, but it was great.

Nut Roll      Nut Roll

I also had the Big Fat Bacon on-a-stick. I am not a bacon fan, but I gotit down.

Big Fat Bacon

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon

My last stop of the day was with Granny’s Kitchen for a Fudge Puppy. It was basically an airy cake-like treat dipped in chocolate and topped with sprinkles and whipped topping. I went with the traditional, but if I ordered it again, I would have tried another one of the options. I think it would have given it a little more excitement. Also, it’s worth noting, its not very “fudgey” it’s just dipped in chocolate so it’s not as rich as you might think.

Fudge Puppy      Fudge Puppy

There you have it! 16 foods checked off my list. Can you believe I did that all in one day?!

Tomorrow brings a new day and new foods.

 

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

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