9 Life Lessons Gleaned From Eating Terrifying Fair Foods
Every year in the fall you'll find articles online about the glorious array of filth proffered by state fairs. It's become a quaint, kitschy sort of endeavor for carnies to try to murder you via deep fryer, and we all love hearing about the sludge they sell us because it's so amazing or bizarre that they deep fried cabbage-filled trousers and then someone ate it. Deep-fried butter, fried ice cream, fried fat wrapped in fatty fat served on a quivering pile of semi-congealed fat.
I wanted to see if this was all hype or if there was effort being put into these foods. Did anyone care what they tasted like, or was it all novelty? And suppose you spent a day at the fair eating nothing but this crap -- how would you feel by the end? Would you fall into some sort of Morgan Spurlock pussified full-body shutdown? Would you puke? Would you just feel bad that you spent $100 on shitty food? There's one way to find out.
I wanted to start my day right, so I headed out at 11 and got myself lunch. Chili cheese dog, a bucket of fries with cheese and gravy (what our Canadian brothers who survive it call "poutine" because it will make you shit upward of 13 times), and deep-fried bubble gum.
Chili Cheese Dog at 11:15 a.m.
See how the chili is puddling at the edges of the bun there? That was mostly tepid grease. The dog inside the bun I think was a boiled wiener, the first affront in a series that was presented to me at a cost of $5. The cheese was from a bag, some pre-grated mass of processed C.H.U.D. blubber, and the chili may have been found in the woods near the grave of a malefic and terrible witch. It was salt and grease with beans. I could feel the spirits of the farts they would birth frolicking between my teeth as I chewed.
I ate this dog for science but was put off right away. Never boil a wiener, because in doing so, you commit hate. You put hate in your food when you boil it. Only eggs and potatoes deserve to be boiled, and even then you need to mash the potatoes afterward to prevent the awful blandness of a British snacking hour. I needed a palate cleanser.
Bucket o' Poutine at 11:22 a.m.
Is this food served in a bucket? Yes. It is a bucket of poutine that costs $12. That's a lot of money for a cramp. There are fries, cheese curds, and brown schmear as far as the eye can see. Ironically, the gravy seems to be a distilled form of my chili, as it is mostly salt and grease. I ate the whole thing with a frown.
Are you aware of cheese curds? I think cheese aficionados have experienced them, but the average person probably never experiences cheese in curd form, as they seem relatively rare at the supermarket. Imagine a brick of cheese you might buy at the store. Now imagine taking a bite out of that brick, chewing it for about 20 seconds, then spitting it out and letting it dry. That's a cheese curd.
Deep-Fried Bubble Gum at 11:35 a.m.
Dessert was the thrill of deep-fried bubble gum for $8. How could this be bad? It comes on a stick, and the presentation is so far winning in terms of its ability to not make me wince. It still sounded gross, but doesn't it look pleasant? This would make Giada De Laurentiis quiver below the belt, it's so pretty. Yeah, but then this happened:
If that's spooge, I will be very displeased.
Can you see what's happening in there, that white, frothy foam inside? I was unsure whether someone spit inside this goo ball or if a cat had heaved up that sludge they produce after eating too much grass. Neither option was one I wanted to explore further, so after one bite, I gave these salty, sugary pink devils a heave into the trash. I will not start my day consuming bile.
I needed some time to settle my insides down and gird my loins for a second round, so why not partake in the fun and frolic of the fair?
Oh man, Super Nudvering is the best!
A table selling cheap made-in-China dollar-store toys for $29 immediately caught my eye. I asked the fellow working there if he could guarantee it would break before I got it home and he stared at me in that way a cat stares at a window it wants to get out of but can't open because it's merely a beast, so I left. Only a handful of paces from this table, I had an American Beauty moment.
Greasy meat abandoned on the floor. Been there before.
This lowly pepperette sat abandoned on the floor, only a single bite taken from the tip. Just the tip, I thought to myself with a giggle. Cured, spicy meat, discarded and unloved. Kicked aside by passing strangers. Was this a metaphor for life? Is this how we all end up? Leaving grease stains on the universe's poured-concrete floor? It was time to eat again.
Deep-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers at 1:25 p.m.
These bad boys are deep-fried bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers that set me back $5. There was literally nothing bad about this whatsoever. It was a jalapeno popper that someone put bacon on. It was genius. When heaven shits itself, this is the stuff that trickles down its pants leg, and we should all be so lucky to fall upon it. It was delicious.
A downside, if there could be such a thing, was that I was definitely feeling the burn already. Not from the jalapenos (those were tame), but one should never consume a bucket of anything and then eat again that day. I assume a horse could have taught me this lesson, but obviously people aren't really prepared to know such things ahead of time.
Deep-Fried Peanut Butter Cups at 1:38 p.m.
Isn't that pretty? And only $4, the best deal so far! Deep-fried desserts are apparently an art form to carnies, while savory dishes may as well be pulled from the belly of whatever unfortunate soul choked to death eating one last. The cardboard skiff it's served on leaves something to be desired, but look at that gentle chocolate drizzle -- just the perfect accent to what turned out to be a molten core of weapon-grade Reese's napalm.
I understand the principle of deep-fried foods -- that they must be immersed in oil of a temperature suitable to slough flesh from bone -- but I figured by the time these got to me they would have cooled to a reasonable and edible temperature. Instead, the first bite seared a layer of tongue clean from my mouth and made me do that "unnghh!" thing children do when faced with asparagus for the first time, plopping the steaming, fizzling PB delight onto the pavement. Other adults stared at me in disgust, while one child stared wistfully at the wasted treat on the ground. I silently dared him to eat it, but his father pulled him away.
The other two tasted delightful.
Deep-Fried Chicken on a Stick at 1:52 p.m.
To the most obvious question at hand -- "Why a stick?" -- I have no answer. Yes, these are just chicken strips, or "tenders," if you're into that sort of thing, that have been skewered and pawned off on the unsuspecting for $7 a pop. There's no rhyme or reason to it. The breading was made from the strongest of grains, some kind of adamantium wheat flour such that even biting into the thing sliced into the flesh of your gums like a hundred tiny knives. This was what it must feel like to try to eat a chicken while it was in the middle of a cock fight, ankle razors and all.
I opted to peel the shell off of the remaining chicken and sup on the dried-out flesh therein. If I were a homeless man, I would not have been ungrateful to have it. But not being a homeless man, ungrateful I was.
It was time for another break, and that meant more fair shenanigans. At this point it was clear I would not be going on any rides, as doing so would be a cruel punishment for me and those in the splash radius. Instead I did what all white kids from the city do -- I visited the farm animals. Look, it's a goat:
Getting the stink-eye from a goat is a rare treat.
This was the fabled goat of La Mancha. His ears made me laugh, so I endeavored to make him a friend or supplicant, whichever seemed easier. He responded by snotting on my shirt. Look, snot!
"Say, Felix, that's a nice bowling shirt!"
I spent the rest of the day with a crusty sheen on my bowling shirt that looked for all the world like I had been jacking off and just didn't have the common courtesy to clean up afterward. Thanks a lot, goat of La Mancha. The friendship has been cancelled.
After touring around the animal world some more, I discovered this guy:
Stupid turtle, you can't climb a fence, you're a turtle!
Is this a turtle attempting to climb a chicken wire fence? Pretty much. I appreciate how completely irrelevant this is, but dammit if it didn't make me laugh when I saw it. Anyway, back to eating!
Obscene Corn Dog at 3:26 p.m.
Just look at it. Look at the scale and the majesty of it. This is what you'll find in Chernobyl Studios porno. It's unwholesome, is what it is. But still, I had committed to doing this and I had yet to find anything as troubling to gaze upon as one of these.
It had been about four hours since I started this adventure, and clearly this was too much food to consume in a single day. Trying to eat this corn dog was literally in my top ten worst experiences ever. So much doughy wiener, just cramming it in my food hole and trying not to cry.
Pulled Pork Sandwich at 5:40 p.m. (At Home)
My efforts to spend the whole day at the fair were dashed on the rocks of gastrointestinal discomfort, as that last corn dog made me feel like the devil had impregnated me with his angry seed and the young'un was suffering from some severe restless leg syndrome deep in my dark, damp places. My only option was to flee to the homestead and ride out my terrible, stupid idea. But I did stop on the way out to grab some pulled pork sandwiches and lemonade.
As you can see, the pulled pork looks a lot like zombie movie special effects or the glistening remains of a once potential-filled man's pride and good sense. However, it was far and away the most delicious thing I ate all day. Make note -- I would push down any elderly personage with impunity should they dare stand between me and this sweet, piggy ambrosia and I would not regret it for a second. It's that good. However, it's also pretty heavy, so you do need a beverage. Good thing I got one!
The Carny's Preposterous Lemonade at 5:45 p.m.
Is it ever necessary to top a drink with an entire fruit salad? My original joke here was about someone drowning Carmen Miranda in the tub, but then everyone would ask who the hell Carmen Miranda is, so I dropped it.
Despite having to harvest the top of this beverage before I could get into it, the rest of it was surprisingly delicious and refreshing. Oh you crazy carnies, you've done it again! The fact that it was a liter of lemonade wasn't doing me any favors, though, and after a solid pound of pulled pork on top of the rest of the day's slop, I was forced to sip slow and lazy like an old lady nursing a brandy.
Out of fair food and with no desire to eat again, I was forced to conclude that, yes, some fair food has thought put into it. Heart, even. Caring. Not all carnies are diabolical purveyors of coronary trauma. One or two of them just want you to be satisfied before you puke on a roller coaster. Good on them.
I didn't gain 20 pounds or vomit in a McDonald's parking lot because I'm not a wanker like Morgan Spurlock. Mostly I just felt like shit for the rest of the night and watched The Goonies. It was a good day.