Forget the rides and the games.
"The main reason people come to the fair is the food," admits Linda Zweig of the San Diego County Fair. "It's a huge element of any fair."
The San Diego County Fair is the fourth-largest in North America, and it unofficially rings in the summer fair season. For fairgoers around the country, it's a preview of what they have to look forward to–and why they should diet now.
So get out your stretchy pants, here are 10 fair foods worthy of a blue ribbon.
Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburgers
Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger — Photo courtesy of Ashley Williams
Those glazed eyes you see all around you? They're a result of these glazed beauties. Chicken Charlie's biggest seller last year, the ingenious combination of protein and sugar will completely change the way you view burgers. Once you've sandwiched a patty or two–or three–between donuts, you may never again be able to settle for a bun.
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Sweet Corn Ice Cream — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
This cool Mexican treat from Corn Star just made its U.S. debut at the San Diego County Fair, where it received a warm welcome, and may even have melted a few hearts. Surprisingly light and refreshing, the ice cream is made with fresh cream and sweet corn, and is uniquely served in a husk. I scream, you scream, we all scream for sweet corn ice cream!
Deep Fried Starbucks
Deep Fried Starbucks — Photo courtesy of Ashley Williams
It was bound to happen. Bacon-A-Fair took Starbucks coffee, infused it in a sweet pastry dough, deep fried it and rolled it in sugar. And, of course, remaining true to Starbucks, they added a dollop of whipped cream. Think of it as getting your morning coffee and pastry all in one cup.
Turkey Leg from Juicy's — Photo courtesy of Ashley Williams
Juicy's sold more than 50,000 turkey legs at the San Diego County Fair this year, which is why fairgoers often resembled Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. A far cry from those scrawny drumsticks served at the kids' table at Thanksgiving, these "Texas-sized" legs look more like well-developed forearms. Easily shareable at a couple of pounds each, they're a carnivore's dream.
Funnel Cake — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Nguyen
If there's one food that screams "fair!" it's funnel cake. Where else do you get to enjoy this fried dough with such abandon? Where else do you see so many people walking around with powdered sugar mustaches? Purists swear by its simplicity but the adventurous add everything from Nutella to ice cream, making the whole experience just that much sweeter.
Deep Fried SlimFast Bar
Deep Fried SlimFast Bar — Photo courtesy of Ashley Williams
Probably the most ironic dish at the fair, Chicken Charlie’s shakes up the iconic weight loss aid, battering it, drizzling it with chocolate and showering it in powdered sugar. Although Charlie himself created this oddity after being inspired by his own weight-loss success with SlimFast, please do not expect the same results with this version.
Australian Battered Potatoes
Australian Battered Potatoes — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Fairgoers have been indulging in these tasty fried treats for more than two decades. You can embellish them with cheese, bacon, sour cream, Ranch Dressing or their new “hot as the Outback” Sriracha sauce, but you'll still have to agree it's what's Down Under that makes these spuds so special.
Pink's Hot Dogs
Pink's Hot Dogs — Photo courtesy of Ashley Williams
A Hollywood legend since 1939, this mom and pop shop is probably the most famous hot dog stand in the country. Everyone who's anyone has been photographed at the landmark, so for those who can't make it to Sunset Boulevard, getting a Pink's hot dog at the county fair is a real highlight. In fact, it may even make you feel like a VIP.
Grilled Cheese Frito Crunch Sandwich
Grilled Cheese Frito Crunch Sandwich — Photo courtesy of Ashley Williams
Taking comfort food to a whole new level, this lunchtime staple from Grilled Cheese-A-Fair is served on sourdough and features a familiar and nostalgic crunch, thanks to the addition of a rich, flavorful chili starring Fritos corn chips as its not-so-secret ingredient. It makes your childhood favorite seem, well, childish.
Deep Fried Peanut Butter Pickles
Deep Fried Peanut Butter Pickle — Photo courtesy of Michael Tactay
Yep, you heard right. Chicken Charlie hollows out a big, juicy pickle, fills it with peanut butter and deep-fries it in pancake batter. Because that isn't enough, they top it with chocolate syrup, powdered sugar and sprinkles. After you've tried one, don't be surprised when you develop a strange craving for another.
Feel like you have a special connection with fried food? Find out what your fair food spirit animal is.