Food for Thought



Split or be Selfish: Review on 2016 State Fair Food Finalists

This year’s 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards was presented by the Dallas Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, its second year being open to the public to purchase tickets to the events, with all proceeds going to the Youth Scholarship Program.  State Fair of Texas has awarded over 1,800 scholarships to promising local students which means that is a lot of deep fried goodness going to a great cause. Now you shouldn’t have any shame when that extra Fletcher’s corn dog starts calling your name.

Adding to the list of your “must haves” to the fair every year can be a daunting task for your waistline and your wallet. We decided to give you our opinion of each of the Big Tex Choice finalists and whether or not you should be selfish and buy an order for yourself or split it with someone because everything is worth at least trying once; plus you can share the calories and the tickets.

Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider - It was basically called ‘a whole cookout on a stick’ and that isn’t an exaggeration. Hot dog, burger, bun, and even pickle were skewered, battered, and deep fried. It had all the elements of your family get-together bbq except your drunk uncle isn’t there asking why you’re not married yet. It was an interesting concept and if you are looking to finally meet someone to marry, this is a great item to share with that special someone. Our verdict: split it.

Injectable Great Balls of BBQ - Tender, shredded brisket molded into balls and then deep fried. It comes with a little mini turkey baster to inject the balls with a sweet BBQ sauce and served on a bed of coleslaw. It was very interesting and did not lack in brisket. You might even squirt the bbq straight into your mouth. This item is another in which you should just Split It.

Southern Fried Chicken & Dumplins - Chicken and dough are rolled into balls and deep fried and served with a thick gravy dipping sauce. This reminded us of Stove Top stuffing (in a good way, we have no shame in a box of Stove Top) with bits of chicken. The gravy added even more flavor and had us cleaning the bottom of the ramekin. Have no shame in ordering one just for yourself. Be Selfish.

Deep Fried Pulled Pork “FUNYUN®” Dings - This made us skeptical. Not being big fans of FUNYUNS in the first place, we were hesitant when we bit into the battered concoction of FUNYUNS stuffed with pulled pork, pineapple, pepper jack cheese, and bacon. And somehow it managed to work. The pineapple gave a nice sweetness to the weird but delicious item. This could have easily been Most Creative but overall this is something to Be Selfish about.

Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia - Imagine yourself walking around the State Fair carrying a pineapple boat of fried rice. Pretty crazy. But this was just a good hearty meal. Caribbean spiced fried rice with marinated chicken and shrimp fill up a split and cored pineapple. It had good flavor and a nice kick of spice from the pineapple rum glaze. You can be selfish and fill yourself up but we think you should Split It and if you still have room in the belly, come back for seconds.

Fernie’s Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket with Mac ‘n Cheese Dip - This was our pick for Best Tasting. Chicken pot pie stuffed in flaky crust like a hot pocket except you don’t have the lava edges with the frozen center. The creamy filling was full of chicken and vegetables and the light but flaky crust made this a hit at our table. By far a better Chicken Pot Pie experience than the 99 cent frozen Swanson version. We didn’t get to sample the Mac N’ Cheese dip but we heard it elevated this dish even higher. This is a pretty hearty item but we think you should definitely Be Selfish.

State Fair Cookie Fries - 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards Most Creative winner. We can’t argue with it. The crinkle cut “fries” are deep fried cookies (chocolate chip and sprinkles) served in a little fry box with two dipping sauces or strawberry or a milk chocolate sauce. In our opinion, the chocolate chip fries were the better of the two but the strawberry dipping sauce was a pretty good ‘ketchup’. We enjoyed them but worry they may be get over-fried pretty easily. We’ll suggest that you go ahead and Split It - but if you get a good batch then by all means, Be Selfish.

Fried Jell-O: Deep fried panko crusted Jell-O took this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards for Best Tasting. It was a mixed reaction at our table. It reminded me of a fruit filled cake donut with a warm cherry filling. It was a good sweet dish but we can understand if you can’t get over the fact that your favorite childhood snack that turned into your favorite college party favor is now a deep fried item at the fair. This was fun and had pretty good flavor but we can see why people are on the fence. Definitely Split It and then decide for yourself.

State Fair opens on September 30th and runs through October 23rd so you have plenty of time to try out the 2016 Big Tex Choice Award finalists and all your other favorite past participants.

*Photos courtesy of State Fair of Texas.  Just Eat Dallas was invited to attend the Big Tex Choice Awards as media and was provided a sampling of each dish which in no way impacted our taste buds or our review.