The air is thick with the smells of powdered sugar, fryer grease and hope this morning. 55 items were submitted for consideration in the Big Tex Choice Awards this year, and we already shared with you a list of the 34 semifinalists. Judges debated for weeks about which items would make the finals. And early this morning, at a press conference at the Cotton Bowl (Yes, apparently we have press conferences for this sort of thing now. Wish you could have seen me there, pointing my phone at the food and yelling, “What do you say to the allegations that Fried Jell-O is blood doping??”) they named the final eight that will compete for the awards of Best Taste and Most Creative on August 28th. Here it is, your list of the eight finalists of the Big Tex Choice Awards for 2016:
Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Sliders On A Stick
First, let’s all take a minute to drink in all the amazingness just in the name of this item alone. It’s every word you want in your fair food experience, all in one item. This Big Tex Choice Awards contender starts with bacon, a burger patty and a hot dog in a Hawaiian roll. Then, shove a stick through the middle, top it with a pickle, dip the whole thing in tempura batter and fry that sucker. Now, that, my fried friends, is state fair food magic.
Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket (with mac ‘n cheese dip)
It’s the hot pocket you’ve always wanted from the fair, but have never had the glory of experiencing. Find your grandma. Ask her to make you a chicken pot pie. Take that filling, wrap it in pastry dough, fry it up, and shove it in your face. (Served with delicious mac ‘n cheese dip.)
You heard about it, you knew it would be a finalist, and you were right. Welcome Fried Jell-O to the big show, ladies and gentlemen. It’s cherry Jell-O rolled inside a light, sweet dough. (Think beignet meets rainbows.) Fry it. Then, dust some powdered sugar on top and it’s go time.
Deep Fried Pulled Pork “Funyun” Dings
Go to a gas station. Buy some Funyuns. Stuff those with pulled pork, pineapple, cheese, and bacon. Dip them in batter and fry ’em up. Dip them in barbecue sauce if you’re the kind of person who dips things into barbecue sauce.
State Fair Cookie Fries
Remember that time you were eating a cookie, and you were all, “UGH. This is SO TAXING. I can barely lift this cookie all the way to my mouth because it is so unwieldy.” Well, Cookie Fries heard you and they’re here to save the day like Superman on a crappy Monday. They’re regular cookies that are crinkle cut, just like fries. Get chocolate chip or sprinkles. Dip in chocolate sauce or strawberry sauce.
Southern Fried Chicken & Dumplin’s
Go to your favorite diner. Order the chicken and dumplings. Roll that into a ball and fry that memory-triggering comfort food. Served with “biscuit bites” and gravy. Because obviously.
Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia
ALERT ALERT ALERT: This item has somehow made it into the Big Tex Choice Awards without being fried. Big Tex is making the “not-impressed” McKayla Maroney face. Marinated grilled chicken and shrimp are served with Carribean fried rice (at least the rice is fried, geez), topped with tropical salsa and a pineapple glaze and served INSIDE A HALF OF A PINEAPPLE. If you’re that person who goes to the fair looking for something to eat that isn’t fried, 1) Why are you there? but 2) OK, fine, try this.
Injectable Great Balls of BBQ
Start up your smoker. Throw a brisket in there. 14 hours later, shred that brisket, mix it with some barbecue sauce, roll it into a ball with breadcrumbs and FRY IT. (#fryit) Served with a pipette (first time that word has been used in conjunction with the State Fair of Texas) or barbecue sauce so that you can inject your brisket balls with as much or as little as you want. Game on.
We’ll be covering the 2016 season of the State Fair of Texas (September 30-October 23) and its glorious food offerings, from fried balls to everything on a stick to spiked colas to pie shakes (yes, we said pie shakes) from here on out. (We’re pretty sure Fried Jell-O has been blood doping.) Now, go take a Pepcid. Just reading this list is enough to create a legit digestive issue.