What to Eat* at the Minnesota State Fair

* (and not eat)

Of course, this is just two foodies’ opinions! All photos taken with my point-and-shoot, just fyi.
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Between our visit to the fair three years ago, last year, and this year, we have sampled quite a variety of foods.  I thought I’d pass on some of our experience to help anyone confused by all the “on a stick” and deep-fried products.

Love it:
– French Meadow Bakery’s scones.  Fresh out of the oven, these perfect-texture scones can be topped with a variety of fruits and/or cream.  SOOOOO good!

– French Creperie’s Peaches and Cream crepe.  I got this last year and loved it.  This year it was still delicious, but trumped by the previously-mentioned scone.

– Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade.  Make sure the sign says fresh-squeezed, or you’ll end up with some powdered formula imitation lemonade.
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– Cheese Curds.  We buy from The Mouse Trap in the Food Building, and they’re always piping hot.
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– Gourmet Wild Rice Burger from Wild Rice Specialties.  Also in the Food Building.  I saw people all day walking around with mediocre-looking burgers and couldn’t bring myself to buy one.  But this baby, with a slice of white cheese and sauteed onions and peppers.  So delicious!  No wonder the Star Tribune gave it 4 stars!  Husband had some of it and was equally impressed.

–  Pronto Pups.  This is a Husband favorite, not mine.  I’ve had something against corn dogs my whole life, and though these aren’t corn dogs (the batter is made from wheat flour, not cornmeal), I could do without. He gets at least one every year.  🙂

– Australian Battered Potatoes.  We haven’t bought these since the first time we went to the Fair together, simply because the serving is SO HUGE.  That first fateful Fair, we started wtih these potatoes and the “all you can drink” milk stand, and we could barely eat another thing the rest of the day.  That said, if you’re with a group of 4 or more, or you don’t mind eating one or two and throwing the rest away, or you travel with a cooler, they are delicious and come with a variety of toppings.

– Malts from the Dairy Building (not to be mistaken with the Dairy Bar).  The quality of the ice cream and the real fruit blended in makes them the yummiest ones at the Fair!

– Deep-fried Pickles from The Preferred Pickle.  Sounds disgusting, no?  But served up with a side of ranch, these are surprisingly good.
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– Chicago Dogs.  Another Husband pick.

– 1919 Root Beer.  Don’t bother with any other kind.  This is on the outside of the Food Building.

– All You Can Drink Milk.  It’s just milk, but all you can drink for $1?  The best beverage bargain at the Fair by far.

Like it:
– Big Fat Bacon.  Husband would put it on his “Love it” list.  It comes on a stick and has some sweet-ish sauce on it.

– Fudge Puppy.  A hot dog-shaped Belgian waffle on a stick, covered in fudge and whipped cream.  Certainly a heavy indulgence for breakfast, but hey–it’s the Fair.

– Isabel Burke’s Olde Tyme Taffy.  We got some last year, skipped it this year.  I think I’m more of a fan of saltwater taffy than Husband is.  You can watch them pulling it right in front of you.

– Axel’s Bonfire Stuffed Tater Tots on a Stick.  I don’t know that I will get them again, but for a one-time try, they were decent.

Will not get it again:
–  Malts from the Kiwanis.  We were nearby their stand and had a coupon, so I decided to sample one.  They are nowhere near the quality of the ones you can get in the Dairy Building.
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– Sweet Martha’s Cookies.  I risk being strung up for saying this, but these cookies were an extreme disappointment.  Friends and family have raved about them, so my expectations were pretty high.  We got a large cone of them this year (versus buying one of the buckets of 4 dozen, thank goodness), and after my first bite, I looked at Husband and shook my head.  The batch we got were straight off the pan, so they were warm.  The texture was okay, a little bit more crunchy than I expected.  The taste was pathetic.  All three of the varieties of chocolate chip cookies I make at home are far, far better than Sweet Martha’s.  But at least we can say we finally tried them.

– Kids’ Meal at Giggles’ Campfire Grill.  It sounded like a bargain: chicken, fries and a dessert for $1.50.  The chicken was not, in fact, chicken, but some sort of breaded foamy product in the shape of a smiley face.  Anja was not impressed.  She ate some of the mediocre fries and all of the graham crackers, but I’d just as soon pack her a few graham crackers from home next time and save myself even the measly amount spent on them.
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17 thoughts on “What to Eat* at the Minnesota State Fair

  1. A “yum” of agreement! I always wondered who would buy the French Meadow scones at the fair – I love scones, but you can get them anytime. It’s like buying buttered popcorn at the Fair. Or so I thought…for the last 2 years, now that my son is here, we go right away in the morning. The cinnamon currant scone with sweet cream and peaches, along with a cup of coffee of course, is a BEAUTIFUL way to start a Fair day. My husband gets a crepe, and now those 2 booths are neighbors – perfection! I’ll have to try the wild rice burger – thanks!

  2. I was ok about us not making it to the fair this year until I read your post! I want fair food now!!

    Thanks for clearing up the fact that pronto pups are not the same as corn dogs. I (truly) did not know the difference! I’ve lived in MN most of my life and didn’t know that!

  3. This post totally just made my day! Not in the least the same as attending the fair myself, but you have to know that the best part of any Food Network show is when the host devours the food at the end of each episode! I am glad you got to enjoy so many tasties at the Fair!

    I couldn’t find the scones on the bakery website. But I bet it wouldn’t be the same unless they were fresh and warm.

    We always used to get our cheese curds in the Food Building. We always seemed to go on scorching hot days (which makes th Food building a sauna), so yay for good weather this year! btw, check out those greasy fingers on your hubby! That’s a good cheese curd!

    My cousin Katie used to make malts in the Dairy Building, and we’d always try to get in her line just for fun. I am a sucker for the chocolate malt, though. The other reason to get a malt at the Dairy Building is to check out the butter sculptures, which, if I recall, always seem to look sort of the same every year…but definitely a unique Minnesota novelty!

    My dad would always “put away” (in his terms) TWO footlong hotdogs the second he set foot in the fair. I have no idea how the man stayed so skinny.

    My family was pretty frugal (aka, poor) so we always hit up the cheap-o burger stand, I think near the Giant Slide, for lunch. The sign used to advertise $.79 burgers but that was in the 90’s so I’m not sure if that stand is even there anymore.

    My favorite fair beverage is the Hawaiian Shaved Ice. It’s a must for me. Cotton candy if they have it, otherwise watermelon.

    Speaking of which, did you not try the chocolate covered watermelon on a stick?!!?!

    I LOVE this Fair post! It’s SO all about the food!!!

  4. You should have written this a couple days sooner. 🙂 I tried the strawberries and cream crepe. Sooo good. I also had the fresh squeezed lemonade, yum! I tried a baked potato with bbq’d meat and cheese on top and that was delicious also. Lastly I got some cheesy breadsticks with marinara sauce. I wish I’d found those deep fried pickles, they look delish! I’ll have to try the Australian battered potatoes sometime because I love potatoes. I really wanted icecream but kind of ran out of time and cash. Next time. I’d love to try the taffy also. Ok, no more talk of food, I am getting hungry.

  5. Mmmmm…good to know! Isn’t the fresh squeezed lemonade awesome?! Every time we go to the Farmer’s Market, I have to get one too. They are just the best! That, and the roasted sweet corn…even better sprinkled with lemon pepper! Oh, and I saw your reference to “This is Why You’re Fat.” In case you’re interested, here’s a blog you may want to check out for fun: http://thisiswhyyourethin.blogspot.com/. I’ve read her other blog, “Vegan Lunchbox” for several years. 🙂

  6. I love your state fair posts! (I still haven’t forgotten last years!) We never get quite that much food when we go, but I have to say, I always want to. Maybe this year…we didn’t go last year because I was 8 months pregnant and in too much pain to walk due to a hip injury. But next year, there shouldn’t be any excuses!

  7. Even if there are other things at the fair (there ARE other things, right?) food is definitely the most important. We had some great butter chicken at the fair in my hometown this year….

  8. The best thing at Giggles was the walleye cakes. They’re incredible! They have a wild-rice batter and are so flavorful–it’s the first thing I get when I go to the MN state fair. We went twice this year, visiting from California (seeing friends, baseball, etc.) While I like a lot of the rest of the food (especially sausages; my wife likes the deep-frid Snickers bars) the walleye cakes are the best thing there.

    Win! Twins!

  9. Pingback: Minnesota State Fair – Food Picks for 2010 « Minnesota Mom

  10. Pingback: Minnesota State Fair Food 2012 « Minnesota Mom

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