Absurd State Fair Foods: The Meatening

In Depth

Welcome back to State Fairgasm, Kitchenette’s ongoing series where we find the most ridiculous State Fair concoctions from around the US and then say snarky things about them. Today we’ve got some of the more bizarre meat and meat-adjacent products we’ve ever seen, and that’s a field with some competition.

We begin in the Batshit Crazy Repressive Laws State Copper State (really? It’s called the Copper State? Who knew?), where the same minds that brought you deep-fried scorpions are equally hard at work with other animal classes:

Smoked Lizard on a Stick (Arizona)

Don’t be alarmed, these farm lizards were raised for food purposes. That probably doesn’t make it any better. But the fact that the lizards taste like chicken dipped in chocolate might. After having been smoked for 12 hours and smothered in barbecue sauce and chocolate, you won’t even recognize the little critter. The treat tastes a little bitter and fishy, however the chocolate makes up a majority of the flavor. Put your fears aside. Indulge.

“Don’t be alarmed, these farm lizards were raised for food purposes.” THEIR FARM-RAISED VS. WILD-CAUGHT STATUS IS NOT WHY I AM ALARMED, SIR OR MADAM. I’m just trying to comprehend the idea that there’s enough of a market for edible reptiles that someone can actually make even a hardscrabble living by farm-raising them, because my brain keeps sending back a series of question marks and exclamation points. There may have been an ampersand in there at one point.

By the way, the reason there’s no image above is that we’ve searched every corner of the internet for one, and we can’t find a single picture of these things. I choose to believe this is because Lizard on a Stick is such an abomination that every time someone tries to snap a photo of it, the camera breaks.

Chop Dog (Minnesota)

A Kramarczuk all-beef wiener chopped into pieces and grilled until the skin turns crusty. Served original-style, chili dog-style or in a brat-style currywurst.

This has got to be just about the laziest goddamn thing I’ve ever seen. It just seems like this involved a chef getting really angry and bitter that no one appreciated his genius. “Fuck it, I’ll show them a fucking sandwich. Chop up that hot dog and toss it between some thick-ass goddamn Wonderbread. Let’s see if the little shits will eat that.” The secret ingredient is contempt.

Hot Beef Sundae (Iowa)

Ahhh, nothing hits the spot on a hot day at the fair like a sundae. Although if you’re at the Iowa State Fair, odds are you’ll be diving into a hot beef sundae — which is going to be a decidedly different taste experience than what you might encounter at the local scoop shop. Picture a bowl filled with two scoops of mashed potatoes, surrounded by slow-roasted beef tips, covered with beef gravy, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and, of course, topped with a touch of cherry tomato. And one big plus for this sundae—no brain freeze upon frenzied scarfing.

While researching this, we discovered a surprising tendency to re-package meats in dessert form, a trend which is frankly baffling. I mean, there’s nothing (aside from the tomato) I wouldn’t eat here, but it just feels like the Lisa Frank version of a KFC Famous Bowl. Are we 100% sure that’s beef, rather than unicorn meat? Because that would make this WAY more appealing.

Spam Curds (Minnesota)

Perhaps the only fair food to have its own Facebook fan page, Spam curds celebrate the Minnesota-born mystery meat. At the Spam Burger booth, cubes of cheese-flavored Spam are battered, deep-fried, and smothered in ranch dressing.

On the list of “items that should not be curded,” where does Spam rank? Has to be pretty high, right? Spam Curds sound like a curse a Midwesterner would level at his neighbor for stealing his Hot Dish recipe: “A curd on both your houses!”

There’s really just no way to save Spam, no matter what you do to it, but you know it’s just a matter of time before some restaurateur tries to make Spam Confit or Spam Paté or Spam and Lobster Mac and Cheese with Truffles (because why would you ruin one ingredient when you can ruin three of them?). You’re not reclaiming Spam, hipsters. Some things are beyond even ironic redemption.

Lamb Fries (Minnesota)

Continuing their “weird meat” trend, Minnesota State Fair took the novelty to a whole new level with their Lamb Fries. The name of this dish implies fries made of lamb meat, which is inventive and questionable enough as it is, but let’s clarify which type of lamb meat we’re talking about: BALLS. Lamb balls. Lamb testicles marinated in spices and deep-fried in a crumb coating. Whoa.

Nope. Sorry. Balls are my line. I’m not chowing down on another living creature’s low-hanging fruit. I feel like this would be Bob Barker’s favorite Fair food, though. Can’t you just imagine him going to town on a huge plate of these things, pausing only to cackle madly and shout “MY REVENGE IS COMPLETE!” while shaking his fist at the sky?

Pork Parfait (Indiana)

Like a Thanksgiving leftover mashup, the pork parfait layers potatoes, barbecue sauce, and pulled pork in an ice cream sundae glass for a savory lunch on-the-go. Eat it with a spork, of course.

You know this is the classiest dish at the fair because there are French words in its name, even if most of the Hoosiers in attendance think it’s pronounced “Par-fate.” By the way, this entry was the point where the person helping me research this post started to feel violently ill. I’m not even kidding — just researching this almost hospitalized her, but she kept going. That’s why I pay her the big bucks.*

Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe (California)

It sounds too gut-busting to be true, but it is: a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut, split open and stuffed with savory sloppy joe, doused in a tomato-based sauce and sprinkled with cheese…the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe is the brainchild of Charlie Boghosian, owner of Chicken Charlie’s, which has been providing food to county fairs in Southern California for 17 years.

Well, I can’t see any flaws in THIS idea. I don’t know about you, but a glazed confection slathered with meat slurry sounds like a hell of a good time to me. And to soak it in finest Ragu? C’EST MAGNIFIQUE! My only complaint is that it isn’t topped with skunk rectums, nor has it been left to marinate overnight in a gutter in exotic Anaheim. Ah, well. We can’t have everything our hearts desire.

Wait…Charlie Boghosian…why the hell do I know that name? Ohhh, he’s the deep-fried Kool Aid guy from last time. Well, that answers a lot of questions.

Python Kebabs (California)

After realizing that visitors to the California Exposition & State Fair wanted more adventurous foods, vendor George Sandefur changed his offerings from chicken to foods that “taste like chicken.” Grilled python kebabs seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, Old Bay, and lemon-pepper are a new favorite.

OH MY GOD THAT’S SO GROSS IT — huh, actually, that seasoning sounds pretty damn tasty. I feel like I’d be worried my dinner was going to reanimate and cry for help in Parseltongue, but I think I could get over that. Plus, I’m pretty sure this is how you acquire Venom’s superpowers. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty freaking jazzed for this now.

Camel Burger Sliders (Minnesota)

Sliders are old news at the fairs these days, but not when they’re made with camel meat. Is that even legal? Apparently so, and the Minnesota State Fair, the originator of the Breakfast Lollipop, makes camel legally delicious by smothering it in spicy mayo, white American cheese, and caramelized onions. Store THAT in your hump!

When something is described as “legally delicious,” it makes me wonder if this was boosted from a prison cafeteria and repackaged as Fair food. Also, why are there camels in Minnesota? Are they on holiday? Were they originally part of a Dromedary Student Exchange Program? Most importantly, what the hell is going on in Minnesota that half these entries are from there?!

Maggot Sandwiches (California/Colorado)

Jungle George’s Exotic Meats and Bugs is taking state fair food to a whole new level. Owners Rodney Wright and George Sandefur have introduced maggot sandwiches at state fairs in California and Colorado, the Associated Press reported. And, they think they’ve found a hit…Sandefur said he got the idea while eating at a restaurant in Utah. The maggots are grown on a farm and USDA-approved.

Look at that lead image. There can be no more convincing evidence that the USDA is asleep at the wheel than the fact that maggots can be described as “farm-grown and USDA-approved.” There’s a reason Casu Marzu is illegal in the EU. How many crossed wires do you have to have inside your skull to look at a festering mass of larvae and think “FIRE UP THE OVEN, IT’S GO TIME”? I don’t care how delicious your bread and cheese are, serving them as part of a maggot sandwich is like bedazzling a turd.

*I do not pay her the big bucks.

Special thanks to kinja user Smithwellette for all her help with this post.

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