Back to Basics at the State Fair of Texas

I have never done the State Fair of Texas correctly. This is my fault.

I have done this as a vegetarian. I have attempted to do this as a keto warrior. Last year, I became unhinged and tried to eat (and drink, ugh) the most insane items the State Fair of Texas had to offer. The Kool-Aid Pickle Dilly sangria broke my (extremely genius) rating system.

Here’s the deal: I am a failure. The real way to do the fair was right in front of me, and I was too deluded by whimsy (and vegetarianism, good lord) to do the State Fair the correct way. This year, I had a Normal One. I killed the gimmicks and pared down my affectations and did it … el classico style. Mostly. No spoilers.

As always, I ranked all State Fair provisions the only way I know how: on a scale of 10 vintage Bevos. Will I break from format? My brain is clogged with grease, so, probably. Here we go.

Cup of beer

Look, I know what I’m doing. It was freezing in Dallas, due to an early morning storm and the fact that it’s OCTOBER and it’s supposed to be cold. Anyway, I needed something to warm me up, and an ice cold—I get the irony—Miller Lite did the trick. Also, don’t judge me.

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The wind

Gales and gusts and whatever other words describe the cold winds that used to send sailors hundreds of miles off course befell me at the State Fair. I didn’t bother packing a jacket or a hoodie or anything because by the time I eat my second fried cheese curd I’m normally sweating through my dang dungarees. The wind was my foe this year, and not just because it turned me into a chilly baby. It also knocked over my beer cup. Boo, wind. I’m breaking out the big guns for your ranking.

Fletcher’s Corny Dog

This is my fourth State Fair, so you, reader, should be angry that it took me four whole years to try the fair’s most iconic foodstuff. Technically I tried the vegetarian version in 2016, which was good, but was lacking … meat? That seems important. Though there are corn dogs all over the place, I decided to wait in line for Fletcher’s. Folks, there is a reason that despite being able to get a corn dog from 20 other stands within eyeshot, people go for the original. The batter is delightful, the meat is not composed of soy but rather … well, actually let’s not think about what the meat is. It was good. Fletcher’s is a rite of passage.

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Fried pickles

Is that … vinegar I taste? I’m a pickle man, baby. Maybe even a pickle connoisseur. I know what I like in a pickle, and generally, it’s this: I have to forget that it was once a cucumber. When it comes to fried pickles, I prefer a chip rather than a spear, mainly because the smaller each piece is, the more breading you get per pickle piece. That’s just math. Served with a (thimble-sized, if I’m being honest) side of ranch, these chip-shaped pickles were briny and almost too salty. But overall, you cannot miss on this fair staple.

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Champagne Jell-O Hot Shot

I know what you’re thinking—I tried, reader, I did. I intended to stick only to staples this year. But when I saw there was something that combined my two loves—ridiculous food items and booze—I was drawn to it like Bevo to a bulldog. This item is a Jell-O shot made with Champagne—I’m sure this is Dom Perignon and not, say, Andre—and topped with a slice of jalapeno. I wanted to hate this drink. But it’s a Jell-O shot. Have you ever regretted taking a Jell-O shot? Ask me that tomorrow.

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DO NOT EAT THIS PIZZA

Slice of pizza

You might be thinking: pizza, a fair staple? Two things. Calm down, and yes, where I’m from, we eat pizza at fairs. I come from the land of the greatest pizza known to man. No, not Naples. Not New Haven. Chicago? Please stop reading this column and go think about what you’ve done. No, I am from New Jersey, where it has been scientifically proven—I won’t be providing proof—that all the pizza is incredible. I figured, especially since you can buy pizza everywhere at the State Fair, that I’d try it out to see what the fuss was. Pro: this is one of the only non-fried savory dishes at the state fair. Con: it’s the worst slice of pizza I’ve ever had. Is that hyperbole? I’m too tired to be reasonable!

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Fried Oreos

Back on track, baby. It was this or a funnel cake, but when you’re destroying your body for journalism, you go big or go home. The fried Oreos at the State Fair are basically a funnel cake if inside the funnel cake was…an Oreo. You can have your cookie fries, your fried bluebonnets, or whatever other sweet treat dipped in batter and covered in confectioner’s sugar that State Fair pumps out every year, but I’m sticking with this one.

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Texas Skyway

This isn’t food, but the view was delicious (?) and the above ground break from the fried food down below was rejuvenating.

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Turkey leg

There was some sort of jambalaya-stuffed turkey leg that cost upwards of $30 in tickets and looked like a crime scene, so I opted for the classic. I’m cheap and sticking to the theme, mostly. The woman at the counter asked if I wanted it dry or wet, and then suggested, “It’s better wet.” I dunno, this was pretty wet. If I wasn’t full of three days’ worth of calories already, I might have liked this more, especially because the dark meat was actually pretty good, once you get past the layer of … wet.

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honestly iconic

Champagne Jell-O Hot Shot Part Deux

I had to go back. When you’re a fancy lad like me, sometimes only the finest things in life will do. Honestly, this was even better the second time around, like the film—yes, film—Hot Shots Part Deux. I’m tired, I feel weird, I want another corny dog. I think I did it right.

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