Long gone are the quaint summers when food on a stick during a county or state fair meant eating an ice cream bar, cotton candy or corn dog. Period.
This year those corn dogs are six to 18 inches long. But that’s just the beginning of the skewered cuisine that gets skewed to greater extremes by adventurous chefs.
Of the 800-plus food options at Wisconsin State Fair, dozens are served on a stick, deep fried or both. Among the nosh-and-waddle possibilities are these seven variations of the theme: deep-fried banana bread, Twinkies, cheesecake, fruit, shark, stuffing, mac and cheese.
We wrap bacon around olives and deep-fry them. We do the same with bacon-wrapped cream cheese.
Elvis on a Stick is peanut butter cups that are deep-fried in a banana batter. Lug Nuts on a Stick are bacon-wrapped tater tots that are deep-fried.
Expect ants-on-a-stick to world’s-hottest-jerky-on-a-stick choices. The vendor for both of these items is All Things Jerky, based in Appleton, Eagle River and Minocqua. allthingsjerky.com
What’s missing from the fair menu? Deep-fried antacids.
Of all the new state fair foods, eight are contenders for a Golden Spork trophy. The Sporkies are the event’s annual best-of-the-best awards.
Sporkies judging begins at 11 a.m. Aug. 7 at the state fair’s Associated Bank Amphitheater. Here are the finalists, whose fair booths are identified by a 13-foot-tall yellow spork (combo spoon and fork) design.
Brownie Waffle Stick: Inside baked waffle batter is a chocolate brownie with white chocolate chips. From Waffle Chix, a vendor that also adds waffle coating to breakfast sausage, chicken, pizza and candy bars (Milky Way, Snickers).
Buffalo Cheese Curd and Chicken Taco: Bleu cheese slaw tops slices of chicken and curds with a spicy kick. From Poncho Dog, which offers three other taco combos: Cajun-flavored curds and andouille sausage; cheddar curds and chorizo with jalapenos; cheddar curds, bratwurst and slaw.
Chicago Dog Nachos: Over house-made potato chips are the fixings for a Chicago-style hot dog. That includes jalapenos, green relish, tomatoes, onions and hot dog slices. Topped with nacho cheese sauce and a Slim’s PBR Park concoction.
Deep-fried Italian Stallion: Inside deep-fried wonton skins are slow-roasted and thinly sliced beef with cheeses, giardiniera and Italian seasonings. On the side is au jus made with Oktoberfest beer. From Water Street Brewery, whose other munchies include deep-fried booyah and deep-fried turducken.
Deep-fried Milk with Cookie Dip: It’s billed as a way to dip milk into the cookie because cubes of pudding made with milk are coated, deep-fried and served with a creamy dip made with a popular sandwich cookie. Slim’s Lakefront Brew Pub and Eatery, the creator, deep-fries portabella mushroom strips and Asian-spiced cauliflower too.
Jalapeno Popper Hot Dog: Cheddar, cream cheese, jalapenos and a raspberry glaze cover a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog. Siggy’s Wild Dogs Saloon also serves hot dogs in more traditional ways.
Puco Locadilla On a Stick: The flour taco filling includes a grilled quesadilla of cheese and peppers, then skewered with grilled chicken and topped with an unconventional mix of chili lime sauce, snickerdoodle crumbs and more. Also on the Sprecher Landing menu are cupcakes and caramels infused with stout beer, root beer floats made with whiskey-spiked ice cream.
Tropics Street Corn Nachos: In the vegetarian mix that goes over tortilla chips is cotija cheese, grilled corn, melted queso and spices. The vendor, Tropics, dishes up traditional nachos, shrimp tacos and chips with salsa too.
What else is out there to tease and tantalize tastebuds at the state fair this year? Of the 63 new additions of food, here are five more that caught our attention.
Apple nachos, from Wisconsin Apple Growers.
Cherry cake slices, from Wisconsin Cherry Growers.
Chocolate-covered bacon berry kabobs, from Saz’s.
Snake soup, from Exotic Meat Grill.
Caramel turtle pretzel, from Gertrude’s Pretzel.
Wisconsin State Fair, 8200 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, is Aug. 1-11. Admission is $14 ($8 for senior citizens, military vets, ages 6-11). Ages 5 or younger get in free. Parking is $12 per vehicle. wistatefair.com
Main Stage admission at the state fair is an additional cost. Here are the headliner musicians:
Aug. 1 – REO Speedwagon, classic rock
Aug. 2 – Fitz and the Tantrums, indie pop
Aug. 3 – Brett Eldredge, country
Aug. 4 – Happy Together Tour, classic pop
Aug. 5 – King and Country, Christian pop
Aug. 6 – KIDZ BOP World Tour, pop for children
Aug. 7 – Rick Springfield, classic pop
Aug. 8 – Jeff Dunham, comedy, ventriloquism
Aug. 9 – Old Dominion, country
Aug. 10 – Isley Brothers and Commodores, funk, soul
Aug. 11 – Melissa Etheridge, roots rock
Tickets range from $19 to $59, depending on the act and seat. General fair admission includes free access to 30 other entertainment stages.