Is there any greater summer activity than going to the local fair and discovering what unholy deep-fried concoctions are being sold to those with a disregard for their stomachs and their mortality? Cracked sent Evan Symon and Mark Hill to the Calgary Stampede, a massive Canadian festival and rodeo, to taste test the latest carnival culinary innovations. We don't want to spoil anything, but this article is being published posthumously in their honor.
#10. Cactus Burger
Much like "diet lard" and "enjoyable Samuel Beckett novel," "cactus burger" are not words we ever thought we'd see strung together.
The option of eating a magical cow named Patti was too weird for us.
There was a strange silence from the back of the truck after we ordered it. Making food that shouldn't be consumed can do that to people.
"Come on, eat me! I'm just a normal, delicious burger!"
At first glance and smell, all seemed normal. Thinking it was too good to be true, we went in for a closer look.
"I lied. I'm a demon in food form!"
It was too good to be true. A more accurate name would be the Tucson McDonald's Dumpster Burger. The smell of rotting cantaloupe crept into the previously unspoiled air. We dug in before it got worse.
This experiment brought to you by Pepsi.
You do not know the meaning of the word "regret" like we do now. Ingredients are supposed to make a bunch of tastes fuse into something delicious. The soggy, chewy, rubbery cactus leaf negates that with the overwhelming, gag-inducing flavor of a month-old melon/avocado hybrid. This burger's taste stays with you, but part of you dies in return. We're surprised they bothered to take the cactus' stabbing parts out.
#9. Grilled Cheese Donut
Ever since Subway invented the sandwich in 1965, mankind has yearned to replace bread with more exotic ingredients. KFC used chicken as bread and set America's international reputation back by decades, and many a donut has sacrificed itself and the arteries of whomever consumes it to make up the "bun" of a burger. But new this year was the glazed donut ham and grilled cheese. The flag in front of the truck proclaimed "You Gotta Try This!" When you can't win them over with accolades of quality, resort to boldfaced dares.
Damn you, peer pressure.
It looks like a hobo ejaculated into a Krispy Kreme garbage bin. Simply picking it up proved to be a challenge. It was piping hot, and our brains were screaming at us not to do it, the same way they once told our distant ancestors not to eat those funny-looking berries.
"You know what would improve this Havarti? Enough sugar to give an elephant hypertension!" said no customer ever. When your first thought after biting in is "Why?" you haven't revolutionized food, you've dared God to punish you for your blasphemy. The sickly sweet aftertaste of sugary cheese lingered for hours, and the single provided napkin was woefully incapable of getting the thick, sticky icing off our fingers.
It's like looking at the blood on your hands the first time you kill a man.
The tiny cup of tomato soup dip did little to stem the tide of sugar, instead serving only as a dark reminder that we could have eaten something healthy. But it's just like P.T. Barnum always said: "No one gets famous on the Internet for eating tomato soup."
#8. Camel, Kangaroo, and Crocodile Sliders
If there's an animal that man hasn't killed and served with a side of fries, we haven't heard of it. But many remain obscure in North America, and after tasting a sampling of animals we'd expect to pop up in an Indiana Jones adventure, we can understand why.
From left to right: camel, crocodile, kangaroo, bread.
While we realize that eating kangaroo is common in whatever country they're from (New Zealand?), to the average American, it's like eating a Disney character. It smells like beef that's gone off, and kind of tastes like it, too -- it's gamey and leaves a harsh aftertaste, like eating a roast beef sandwich, only to realize that it came from Arby's. It's unfair to judge an entire continent's cuisine based on one slider made in a truck, but it's also hard to shake the feeling there's an anthropomorphic joey out there going through a down under Bambi.
The face of a man tasting a mistake.
The camel smelled like a mix of carbon, fresh lawn clippings, and a grease trap. We really had to psych ourselves up to eat an animal associated with sand, spitting, and the Crusades. But much like how you shouldn't judge a book by its cover (unless it's got some lame babysitters on it), we shouldn't have judged this burger by its meat. Camel tastes like a savory, tightly-packed charbroiled beef burger. We'd wish it was more readily available in North America if a camel burger joint wouldn't launch a thousand stupid Facebook posts about Islamization.
There's a face that screams "Edible!"
The crocodile smelled like burnt chicken, but there was another scent we couldn't identify. That's usually a warning sign, and can be a literal lifesaver when it comes to food. But let's face it, our lives weren't worth much at this point.
We were still suspicious, though. It had become our nature.
For an animal that only lives to devour humanity and visit the dentist, it was pretty darn good. It tasted like a chicken/fish hybrid, like eating KFC and Long John Silver's at the same time, though without the accompanying shameful heart attack. The strangest part was the consistency. It was both crumbly and bristly, like a really old toothbrush. Feel free to use that line, crocodile meat salesmen.
How about "Crocodile: It's way better than those dick-sucking, dumbshit alligators"?
#7. Mini Donut Pop
While mini donuts are undeniably delicious, after four or five, the taste begins to wear on you, and you're left with a bag of powdered sugar and regret. So while it's noble that someone searched for a way to enhance the experience of only eating one or two, we don't think ice cream was the most logical delivery mechanism. Not that logic has any place here.
The sign claimed it was the Midway's best new food, but there was no indication of who had issued the award. It certainly wasn't anyone concerned with the structural integrity of their meals, because this thing went to pieces before we could even get the wrapper open. Hey, it's like the first time we had sex.
It's not the size of the cream, it's the ... taste of it?
It was edible, although that's not a review you display proudly. The donut part just tasted like a cold mini donut, so obviously it was still delicious, but eating the ice cream was like sticking your face in a pile of cinnamon and inhaling. It was stringy -- not a word we'd ever thought we'd use to describe ice cream. As you can see from the "I'm vaguely turned off, and also wondering whether I locked the front door this morning" expression, that's not the ideal texture.
It was a bold and worthwhile experiment, but personally, we'd suggest just buying a bag of mini donuts and dumping them all over a bowl of ice cream, the way God intended it.
#6. Bacon-Wrapped Pork Belly
The world's love affair with bacon has long passed the point of irony to become a dangerous obsession. This was made worryingly clear to us by a stall that offered bacon-wrapped hot dogs and bacon-wrapped pork belly, and would probably wrap a bunch of bacon into a ball and shove it down your gaping maw if you belched politely enough.
Simply approaching the stall was intimidating. There were enough giant turkey legs being cooked to feed a Viking army, and enough foul smoke wafting off of them to suggest this was that army's funeral pyre. There's something grim about uttering the words "I'd like the bacon-wrapped pork belly," because the unspoken but implied continuation is "because I have given up on life, and life has given up on me. Let us hasten the inevitable."
It was served on a stick, because that's as simple as they could make it, short of throwing it on the ground and telling us to scoop it up like the filthy animals we are. Man mastered sticks before we mastered not worshiping the sun as a cruel and unfeeling God. Biting into this porcine monstrosity felt like a reversion to those long-gone days.
"MEAT EDIBLE. YOU LOOK EDIBLE, TOO."
You could eat a pencil and the taste of carbon wouldn't be as strong. Each bite tastes like you're devouring a pig farm. There's enough fat and grease to briefly sate Paula Deen.
Your childhood puppy's skin could have been used in a gimp suit, and it would have been a more dignified end to an animal. Each new bite tasted just a little worse than the last, even in the rare moments that a tiny oasis of actual meat was uncovered in the sea of grease. And dear lord, the grease. It gets all over your fingers, it coats your lips like a second skin, it seeps into your very pores, and no matter how much you wipe and scrape, it doesn't come off. It stays with you throughout the long day. It doesn't come off. It stays with you after your pitiful attempt at cleansing yourself in the shower. It doesn't come off. It stays with you at night, in your bed and in your dreams of pigs impaling men on sticks for their hubris. IT DOESN'T COM--