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Celebrating the New Foods of the 2015 Minnesota State Fair

If you are a state fair enthusiast (yes, they exist), then the Minnesota State Fair is definitely on your bucket list. The Minnesota State Fair has the largest average daily attendance of a state fair in the US, and surpassed in overall annual attendance by the Texas State Fair. The big draws each year are the top-name entertainment, one of the largest independent ride midways and – of course – the unique food items offered by the 300 food vendors dotted across the fairgrounds.

The 2015 fair will be held August 27th through September 7th, and the fair organizers recently released a list of the 40 new foods to be offered.  The list is diverse, and far outreaches the cliched list of ‘things you thought couldn’t be fried but are fried anyway.’ They range from the simple twist of the “Burger Dog” to the well thought out delicacy of Walleye Stuffed Mushroom. Dessert is not forgotten either, with 11 new treats including the intriguing BBQ Pickle Ice Cream. We’ve weighed through the official list, and picked out some of our favorites as we try and convince management to sponsor a trip to Minneapolis.

Most Appetizing


Walleye Stuffed Mushrooms feature, three cheeses, red pepper, panko breadcrumbs and special sauce.

Minnesota does a good job of balancing fair food with interesting food that you don’t want to just try, but actually eat and enjoy. Many of the vendors are local restaurants who serve great food year round. One of the dishes that have our mouth watering already is Cowboy Dave’s Cluck & Moo from The Blue Barn. The all-in-one meal has smashed potatoes, roasted beef and grilled chicken covered with beef gravy, crispy onions and mustard BBQ sauce. The Minnesota Wild Rice Benedict Muffin combines a wild rice English muffin cup with sliced ham and a softcooked egg, covered with hollandaise sauce. LuLu’s Public House offers this delicious-sounding breakfast sandwich.

Looking to go upscale at the fair? It sounds like Coaster’s has a hit with their Prime Rib to Go. It is described as thinly sliced choice prime rib with sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms (optional) nestled in a soft bread cone with a side of au jus, horseradish or Parmesan garlic sauce. Walleye Stuffed Mushrooms from Giggles’ Campfire Grill is just that – jumbo mushroom caps stuffed with a flavored cream cheese spread, walleye, three cheeses, red pepper, panko breadcrumbs and a special sauce.  Another ‘slightly tipsy’ selection is the Wine Fried Kalettes from Minnesota Wine Country. They took healthy kale and fried it in a batter featuring local wine. It’s served with a sweet Thai chili sauce.


The Oslo Taco takes the tortilla to Norway with peppercorn-rubbed pork, Jarlsburg cheese, pickled cabbage slaw and other Norwegian favorites

Shanghaied Henri’s International Tacos brings several world-view variations of the taco to the fair this year, ranging from Korea to Norway. Their Korean Bar-B-Q Beef Taco is marinated beef glazed with spicy soy honey, layered with kimchi, topped with crispy rice noodles and served on two flour tortillas. The Oslo Taco features seared braised, peppercorn-rubbed pork, layered with Norwegian Jarlsburg cheese, pickled cabbage slaw, red onion, apple-smoked bacon and lingonberry relish sour cream, topped with pork cracklins and served on two flour tortillas. The local St. Paul Taco has braised beef brisket simmered in Summit Villain beer served on two flour tortillas with caramelized onions, cabbage slaw, horseradish sour cream and apple-smoked bacon bits. Finally, the Yucatan Taco has seasoned chicken chorizo braised in tequila and red wine vinegar served with green cabbage carrot slaw, queso fresco, pickled red onion and cilantro sour cream on two flour tortillas.

Can’t Get Away from the Clichés

2015 Minnesota State Fair: Sausage Sisters Sriracha Sliders

Sausage Sister’s Sriracha Sliders

As hot trends, Bacon and Sriracha inspired dishes continue to be introduced at fairs across the US. A couple of vendors at the Minnesota State Fair are still trapped under these clichés, as evidenced by Sausage Sister & Me’s Sriracha Sliders. They feature meatballs with a Monterey Jack cheese center, on a crusty slider bun with Sister’s own Sweet ‘n’ Hot Sriracha Sauce. Other Sriracha clichés include the Sriracha Dog and Sriracha Balls with your choice of fillings: a blend of shredded chicken, corn, tomatoes, egg and Sriracha; or Sriracha cream cheese with corn, tomatoes and egg.

This fair was one of the first to introduce the public to Chocolate Covered Bacon, and that tradition continues this year with a Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from a vendor aptly named Funnel Cakes. It is described as a funnel cake infused with bacon pieces, then topped with sweet maple glaze and sprinkled with more bacon. For the even sweeter tooth, Pat’s Place offers a Caramel Chocolate-Dipped Bacon Ice Cream Bar.

You may call the five new flavors of SPAM® Burgers a fair clichés, but Hormel Foods is based in Minnesota. Still, this year you can choose from Jalapeño, Hot & Spicy, Bacon, Hickory Smoke or Black Pepper at the SPAM® Burgers booth.

Finally, we can’t ignore the obligatory fried food entry – Ball Park Cafe’s Deep Fried Ribs which are smoked baby back ribs, breaded, fried and served with BBQ sauce.

Sweet Finales

The Doo Wop Dip features Strawberry ice cream and real strawberries in a croissant.

The Doo Wop Dip features Strawberry ice cream and real strawberries in a croissant.

Or beginnings, depending on your appetite. There are 11 new frozen treats this year. They range from the Doo Wop Dip (strawberry ice cream and real strawberries in a croissant, dipped in chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate) from the West End Creamery to Fire and Ice Kreme (soft serve vanilla ice cream with a Sriracha sauce and corn chip crunch, all topped with whipped cream) available at Goertze’s Dairy Kone.

From the ‘it says salad, so it must be healthy’ department is Grandma Deb’s Snicker Bar Salad. The “salad” includes chopped Snickers® bars and Granny Smith apples tossed in vanilla pudding with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce and is available from The Blue Barn. Finally, The Pizza Shoppe introduces Italian Dessert Nachos with cinnamon sugar cannoli chips smothered with sweet ricotta cheese filling, fruit, chocolate, nuts and candy toppings.

Cody’s Picks

2015 Minnesota State Fair - Hot Tail

The Hot Tail is a roasted pig tail coated in a scallion ginger sauce from The Rabbit Hole

Of course, we had to ask our resident ‘I’ll eat anything’ foodie into the conversation. His go-to items on the list included the Hot Tail, described as a “roasted pig tail coated in a scallion ginger sauce.” It is the culinary invention of The Rabbit Hole, a Koreatown-style Bar and Restaurant in Minneapolis. Sara’s Tipsy Pies also caught his eye, especially the Irish Apple pie made with 2GINGERS® Irish whiskey. Sara has been making pies with her ‘secret ingredient’ (Hint, it is local alcohol) since 2011 and is taking them to the fair for the first time this year.

On the flipside, Cody joined the chorus of puzzled gasps at the description of BBQ Pickle Ice Cream. The concoction from R&R Ice Cream is described as vanilla ice cream infused with a light BBQ sauce and diced pickles.

Create Your Own Food Creations Using Central Equipment

Many of the vendors at the Minnesota State Fair are local restaurants just like yours. They are using the fair to not only show their culinary creative side, but also attract some new business. When you are looking to invest in new equipment, turn to Central Restaurant for answers. Our highly-skilled Product Consultants are here to help you find the right equipment for your task, whether it is figuring out new weird flavors to add to ice cream or perfecting the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors in a sandwich. Give one a call at 800-215-9293, start an online chat or order online from our website at CentralRestaurant.com!

All images and food descriptions courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair website at http://www.mnstatefair.org/.
Indiana State Fair Marquee

Celebrate the Foods of the Indiana State Fair

Indiana State Fair - 2014 Logo

For many parts of the U.S., August means time for your county and state fairs. In Central Restaurant’s home town of Indianapolis, the 157th Indiana State Fair kicks off Friday August 1st. While this blogger prefers the thrills and dizziness of the carnival rides during his visits, many of the near 1 million visitors expected at this years event will sample (probably even devour) the dozens of unique foods presented by over 140 food vendors.

2014 Indiana State Fair Featured Foods

Every year, the food vendors compete to have their unique offering crowned that year’s ‘Signature Food’. This year, the competition’s theme incorporated the re-opening of the famed State Fair Coliseum after an 18-month renovation. Vendors were asked to submit “Reconstructed/Deconstructed” foods and a panel of 6 local celebrities voted on a winner earlier this summer.

The winner was the Fruit Twister Shake-Up from Goodwin Family Products based in Muncie, Indiana. Their take on the classic lemon shake-up adds fresh oranges, pineapple and strawberries to a refreshing mix of sugar (or zero-calorie Splenda), ice and water. This new summer treat, along with the other nominees will be available at the Fair from August 1st through the 17th.

The nominees for 2014 Signature food

The nominees for 2014 Signature food

Other nominated foods (with their official Indiana State Fair descriptions) include:

  • Cheeseburger Basket on a Stick (Barto’s Catering): Barto’s Signature Cheeseburger Basket all rolled into one. Fresh seasoned ground beef and Sharp Aged Cheddar cheese tucked in a hash brown potato ball and rolled in seasoned bread crumbs and deep-fried to golden brown. Served on a stick.
  • The Mac Daddy (Gobble Gobble): Gobble Gooble’s signature homemade macaroni and cheese topped with their pulled BBQ turkey.
  • Funnel Cake Ice Cream Sandwich (Urick Concessions): Creamy, soft-served vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two golden brown mini funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
  • Colossal Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a Salted Chocolate Carmel Shake (American Dairy Association): Three columns of breaded mozzarella sandwiched between two slices of American cheese grilled to perfection on Sour Dough Bread. This colossal sandwich is accompanied by a delicious Salted Chocolate Caramel Milkshake.

We Can Help You With Your Signature Foods

Central is proud to have done business with several of this year’s winners over the years, and we can help you too. Whether you are full time on the fair circuit or equipping your fixed location – finding the right equipment to expertly prepare your ‘signature dishes’ is what we do everyday. Talk with a product consultant today at 800-215-9293 and they can walk your through our selection of Concession Equipment, Commercial Deep Fryers or Soft Serve Ice Cream Machines.

And, if you are from out-of-town and looking to sample a Fruit Twister Shake-up for yourself, your product consultant might be able to include one with your next shipped order! (OK, maybe not.)

10 Crazy State Fair Foods

It’s State Fair Season

Midway rides, animals, attractions–it’s that time of year again, time for the state fair.

For the most part, state fair season in the United States typically begins in July and runs through October. In addition to the rides and attractions, one of the biggest aspects of a state fair is the food.

Some menu items are a staple and remain consistent from year to year (such as elephant ears or deep fried corn dogs), but the real news-makers are the crazy new ideas and concoctions.  Each year, state fairs debut something even crazier than the year before.

Crazy State Fair Foods

Below is a list with some of the craziest state fair foods across the country.

Spaghetti Ice Cream (Image sent to Central from the Indiana State Fair).

There is just one food from each state, so click each link for additional information and menu items.  And since many of these overlap from state to state, you may recognize one of these at your next state fair.

Arkansas: Fried Gator

Florida: Mac and Cheese Burger

Idaho: Famous Idaho Ice Cream Potatoes

Indiana: Deep Fried Samoas

Iowa: Double Bacon Corn Dog

Louisiana: Cookie Dough on a Stick

Minnesota: Bacon Ice Cream

New York: Hot Diggity Donut Dog

North Dakota: Deep Fried Kool-Aid

Utah: Deep Fried Frog Legs

5 Incredible Fair Foods and Where to Enjoy them Year Around

FairFarm animals, frighteningly dangerous rides, scorching heat and of course pounds upon pounds of delicious deep-fried food, can only mean one thing.  It’s Fair time again!   Whether the shindig is put on by your state, county or town, they are virtually all the same.  Browse through to see your area’s biggest animal, stuff yourself with this year’s newest calorie packed delicacy and maybe top it off with a ride on the tilt-o-whirl.   For the majority of the year this may sound like some strange foreign ritual, but around this time people show up in droves at fairgrounds across the nation to do just that.  Keeping this in mind, Central has created a guide to the top 5 strange yet deliciously irresitable foods you may want to try while visiting your local fairgrounds this year.  And as if that weren’t enough, we’ve even found a few restaurants where you can get your fix year around.

1)       Deep Fried Butter

Yes, you read that right.  But thankfully, it’s not just exactly what it sounds like, because of course that would be a melted mess.  Instead it’s more a glob of butter, surrounded by dough, deep fried and covered with items like sugar and cinnamon or powdered sugar.

2)      Hot Beef Sundae

This is one of the few, non-fried items on the list, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s healthy.  According to Delish this dish consists of, “…a generous helping of buttery mashed potatoes surrounded by slow-roasted roast beef and gravy, sprinkled with Cheddar cheese, and garnished with a cherry tomato.”   At least the tomato is healthy?

3)      Fried Margarita

While this one isn’t exactly available to everyone (including Indiana’s fairgoers due to its alcohol ban), it is one of the more interesting fried fares.   An Eater article says that this concoction is, “…funnel cake batter mixed with margarita, fried, drenched in additional margarita, and topped with whipped cream in a salt-rimmed margarita glass.”

4)      Krispy Crème sandwiches (Chicken or burger)

This concoction’s insides don’t really appear to be all that strange.  It could consists of a burger (or two) or a chicken breast, bacon and cheese.  All things that tend to sound pretty average, which is why instead of buns, two Krispy Kreme donuts are used to hold it all together.    So if a nice fatty bacon, cheese and meat sandwich just isn’t enough, you may have found your match.  Neha Grey of DivineCaroline.com adds, “It packs well over 1,000 calories. (Just one glazed donut has 10 grams of sugar). Pairs nicely with Lipitor.”

5)      Fried Kool-Aid
According to an interview with Sign On San Diego, “It sold 400 to 600 orders of deep-fried Kool-Aid per day the first weekend of the San Diego County Fair.”  As for what it is, we’ll let this Kool-Aid related recipe be explained by its creator, Charlie Boghosian, in this video from ABCNews.com:

Video: Deep Fried Kool-Aid


While all of these foods may sound delicious and for most are plenty to dive into a mere once a year, for others who want to make it an everyday obsession, check out these spots.

Joe’s in Fullerton, California.  The OC Register says Joe’s offers everything from “Fried Ho-Hos and alligator sausage to Rocky Mountain oysters and corn dogs the size of baseball bats (well, almost).”

The Sausage King in Nashua, New Hampshire.  The Sausage King’s menu offers up everything from Black and Tan Onion Rings (dipped in a batter with black and tan beer), Italian Sausage with onions and peppers and for dessert everything from Fried Twinkies to Fried Snickers.

Mr. Harry’s Carnival Foods in Ballwin, Missouri.   Mr. Harry’s serves up everything you’d expect to find at a fair or in this case a carnival.  There are turkey legs, Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, tons of shaved ice and even baked funnel cakes (for those watching their calories of course).

Now we want to know, what’s your favorite fair food or place to get fair food year around?  Please comment below.