The Fairest of the Fair Foods: 7 Must-Have Delights

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We’ve officially entered the “close of summer” portion of the year. This means sweltering days, vacation escapes and, for many Americans, state fairs! I’m a native Midwesterner; the state fair holds a place near and dear to my heart. Where else can you ride a roller coaster, bet on a pig race, eat a Koolickle and see a Jason Derulo concert — all in the same day?

But the real reason to attend your local state fair? The food, of course! These days fair fare is crazier and tastier than ever, unabashedly presented in an “anything goes” atmosphere. Here are seven ways to get your fair fix at home.

Mini Corn Dogs with Homemade Mustard (pictured above)

For this fair-inspired finger food, Nancy Fuller bathes cut-up hot dogs in a classic cornmeal batter before dousing them in zippy homemade mustard.

Funnel Cakes with Strawberry Sauce

There’s a reason that the popularity of this classic carnival treat is still going strong after more than 100 years — it’s just so delicious! I like mine with extra powdered sugar.

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Spicy Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites

During the past two decades or so, food vendors have really pushed the limits of deep-fried foods. While many of these inventions are fails (hello, fried butter!), crispy bites of macaroni and cheese are definite keepers.

Fried Dill Pickles

Tangy pickles that have been dunked in a cornmeal coating and deep-fried until they’re crispy are a summertime delicacy. Of course, they need a dipping sauce such as ranch dressing or spicy mayo for you to fully enjoy the experience.

Quick Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Pie competitions are a tradition as old as the state fairs themselves; while this blue-ribbon chocolate-and-banana pie is not deep-fried or crazy, it sure is delicious!

Fried Cheese Curds

If you hit the state fair in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you’re sure to come across this regional delicacy. Squeaky cheese curds are battered and fried until crispy and melty, rendering them utterly irresistible.

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Spiced Kettle Corn

This addictive salty-and-sweet popcorn snack has been around for nearly 250 years! Keep the tradition alive by having a bag or two this summer.