Although the State Fair of Texas is making every concessionaire who enters the Big Tex Choice Awards sign a non-disclosure agreement this year, SideDish was still able to secure an exclusive interview. Because when Big Tex made everyone sign those agreements, he made one 12-foot-boot-sized mistake: He forgot to make the fried talent sign it themselves. So, we did what good journalists do. We called Deep Fried I-35 directly, and they were more than happy to tell us their story ahead of the State Fair’s August 11 announcement of this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards finalists. (As a refresher, here is every fried good in the running right now.)
Deep Fried I-35 is a perfectly nice fried brisket kolache that went out and made some bad life choices. “Our peach juice combines with the Dr Pepper® to make a sweet and tangy BBQ glaze which we drizzle over our brisket kolache. We garnish this roadworthy concoction with peach slices and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.”
The announcement of this fried State Fair of Texas semi-finalist for the Big Tex Choice Awards resulted in a range of reactions, including high praise and excitement from people who did not read the description of the item closely to repeat puke emojis from everyone who did read past the name of the dish.
Despite controversy surrounding the use of both sweet and savory flavor profiles in a competition that is now separated into sweet or savory categories, Fried I-35 is a favorite to win.
We caught up with the divisive semi-finalist to talk about their feelings as they fight to make it into the finals, their untraditional route down the worst interstate ever, and their strategy for taking home the title of Best Savory at The State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards.
First off, Deep Fried I-35, thank you for taking time out of what must be a packed schedule to sit down and talk with us. And congratulations on making it into the semi-finals of the Big Tex Choice Awards. How are you feeling about your chances of making it to the finals?
I feel ready. I feel just like Pete Delkus rolling up his sleeves at the beginning of a thunderstorm. I know for a fact that I’m putting something out there that’s far more innovative than anybody else. Half the other competitors in the field are riding the coattails of B-list holidays—Texas Easter Eggs? Deep Fried Halloween? Come on. And the other half of them have corn as a main ingredient, like Bacon Jam Corn Bombs and Crispy Crazy Corn. Snoozefest. Fletcher’s perfected the presentation of portable corn in the form of their classic corn dog. Nobody else should even try.
I believe it’s “corny dog,” factually. Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. And wasn’t corn on the cob the OG of portable corn?
Point is, there’s no competition. I’m gonna win because I sound cool enough that people are going to have to try me themselves to know whether or not they love me or hate me. And that is the perfect winning recipe for this competition. So, I’m not even thinking about the finals—I’m already thinking about the win.
In your description, you’re named Deep Fried I-35 because of the road trip you take to acquire your ingredients. You go from Parker County (peaches) to West (kolaches) to Dublin (Dr. Pepper) to Austin (brisket). We MapQuested it, and it seems to us that you could save a good couple of hours taking US 281-S for most of it. I-35 is the traffic equivalent of a diaper fire. Is I-35 really the way to go for this trip?
Sometimes, the most obvious route to victory isn’t the smartest one. “Deep Fried US 281-S” doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it, does it?
The flavor combination you’re attempting is something you’ve been working on for the better part of a year. It’s a move nobody else in the field would even dream of attempting. Fried peaches, sure. We’ve seen that. It’s amazing. But “peach juice” plus brisket? Why? And then, for some unknown reason, you add Dr. Pepper? And powdered sugar?
I’m sorry—is there a question here?
What do you say to the accusations that your flavor combinations are “dangerous” and “sound nasty?”
I guess I’d say anything good that ever came out of the fair sounded gross the first time you heard it.
I dunno. “Fried Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Waffle Balls on a Stick” sounded pretty badass the first time I heard it.
Some people say the flavors work.
Yeah, in this case is it like, “Some people say, ‘TikTok is a sport,’” or like, “Some people say, ‘Turkey burgers are real burgers,’” or like, “Some people say, ‘Thanksgiving is on Friday?’” Because some of those people are flat out incorrect.
I guess you’ll just have to wait and find out for yourself.
We’re sure you’ve seen the Instagram story that the deep-fried GOAT, Fried Coca-Cola, posted last night regarding your involvement in the semi-finals. The eloquent BTCA winner added the words “WACO SUCKS” to your Deep Fried I-35 profile picture. What’s your reaction?
Waco is great. It’s got those super cool Chip Gaines billboards, where he pretends to be God and talks about stopping to smell the cupcakes or whatever.
I’ve seen those billboards. I was shocked he didn’t make them out of shiplap. Had a good amount of time to drink in their clever messaging, too, on account of the two hours I spent stuck in construction traffic there. That’s all I can think about when I hear your name, to be honest. Chip Gaines and the taste of fresh F-150 exhaust.
Wrapping things up here, assuming you make it into the finals, who do you see as your biggest competition for that Best Savory title?
If Frozen Ranch Water makes it in, I’m screwed. Dallas loves a Ranch Water. The only thing they would love more than Ranch Water is low-calorie Ranch Water—and somehow Frozen Ranch Water has figured that out. But I’m already requesting their removal from the competition because it’s not fair to have a beverage in the same category as the foods. Plus, they should be DQ’ed for wine-based-tequila doping, and everyone knows it.