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Minnesota State Fair foods?

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Since the Minnesota state fair starts tomorrow, I thought I'd take a poll to find out:

1) What's the one thing you cannot leave the fair without eating?
2) Have you tried any of the "new" foods?
3) Do you have any tips for semi-healthy eating at the fair?

For me, the answers are:

1) Mini donuts, hot from the Tom Thumb stand and all the milk you can drink. Ooh, and cream puffs!
2) Not yet, but I'll report back after I've been there
3) Try the milk, corn on the cob in front of the grandstand, gyros from Dinos or the lamb shop, or grilled shrimp (at Old English Fish and Chips).

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  1. 1) The footlong corn dog from the vendor cuddled up against the horse barn (side facing the cattle barn). Best. Corn Dog. Ever. The corn batter has a nice grit to it, and a perfect flavor. Smear it with ketchup and mustard and enjoy while checking out all the lovely dairy cattle.

    2) Nope, I'm kinda cheap when it comes to my Fair dollars, plus I'm too full from the footlong corndog. I did get burned two years ago trying the Reuben corn dog (saltiest thing in the world, and nothing (nothing!) like a good Reuben), so I will probably steer clear of the latest and greatest. This may change however. Still, the tried and true are what bring us back

    3) Yep on the milk and corn on the cob, also the tabouli filled pitas. Too, there's a place up on the more northern side of the fairgounds selling a concoction of smoked salmon, cream cheese and a (lingonberry?) tart fruit sauce on a rye-crisp wafer. Very virtuous feeling after all the other stands. Can't remember the name of the place, but I think it was a log structure (I was there in pouring rain last year and could only think of shielding my treat from the rain and not what my location was).

    Enjoy the Fair folks! We live right next door in SAP and love to see all the happy Fair-goers!

    4 Replies
    1. re: cayjohan

      Cayjohan, re: #3--are you referring to Giggles? I think that place is usually a pretty good bet for "real" food.

      EDIT: Also, here are some links to my favorite state fair threads from last year. I find these are helpful from a planning perspective:

      State of Organic Food at the Fair:
      (Karl Gerstenberger’s post about organic foods and some replies about “healthy” fair eating).

      This year’s fair finds:
      (diesel’s post asking for our new “finds” last year).

      Best breakfast at the fair:

      All foods at the fair (more or less
      (This is AnneInMpls’ post wherein she lists all of the foods from the State Fair’s online “food finder” so we could print it out and take it along with us…).

      State Fair must haves:


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        1) What's the one thing you cannot leave the fair without eating?

        Cay's aforementioned corn dogs - I'm pretty sure I am thinking of the same vendor
        Martha's chocochip cookies
        creampuff things that are heavenly!

        2) Have you tried any of the "new" foods?

        Hmmm- I don't think so.

        3) Do you have any tips for semi-healthy eating at the fair?
        Go early, eat a good breakfast, go with my kids so you can have a bite of what they order .....instead of a whole creampuff - I get 2 bites.

        And I'm adding a 4th general question....
        4) what food item have you been disappointed with at the fair in recent years?

        I had the corn last year and it was horrible. Not even going to bother waiting for it this year.

        1. re: St Paul Susie

          I'll answer number one: cheese curds. From that "original" stand that's inside and maybe has mouse it its name? My husband knows it and steers me to it. Claims it's the first cheese-curd place to have set up at the fair. (But what does he know).

          Also, crab cakes from that outdoor food court-y area (with real beer this year).

          Oh, and something at the freestanding House of LaChoy, just because it's so cute.

          2) Will they have deep-fried Coke or Pepsi there? The newest thing this year. But I won't try it because.

          4) I tried deep-fried Snickers two years ago and it was horrible. Essentially a batter-covered candy bar. And the batter strongly reminded me of that used at Long John Silvers for fish, where I worked back in the day. Good stuff, but not on a candy bar.

          1. re: jeanmt

            while a deep fried snickers may have disappointed some (i had chino's a few weeks ago and it was pretty tasty, with a much finer batter than the one used at the fair) the real king of deep fried confections is definitely the oreos - they undergo a texture transformation in the oil, you could call it the unification of cookie and cream. just watch out for the powdered sugar - it gets everywhere - check out how much of it is all over the ground around the stand if you needed .and more warning.

    2. 1) ONE thing? Oy. I'm way into the Gizmo sandwich: seasoned loose ground beef & pork in a hoagie bun, covered with red sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. The stand is on Cooper, between Murphy and Lee. Also have to have mini-donuts (shared), cheese curds (shared), honey ice cream (shared) and corn. (And then I fast for two weeks.)

      2) I have too many old favorites to make room for anything new . . . the last new thing I tried was the Fudge Puppy, ages ago: a Belgian waffle wrapped around a stick, dipped in chocolate and slathered with whipped cream. Not bad, but it could never replace mini-donuts as my sugar rush of choice at the Fair.

      3) Clearly, no.

      1. What ARE the new foods this year? Anyone know?


        8 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          From Rick Nelson's column today:

          On the second page of this article, scroll down to the paragraph heading "New Foods."

          1. re: KTFoley

            Thanks! So, it looks like the new items that caught Rick's attention (enough to include in his piece, anyway) are:

            Apple fries -- julienned apples, crumb-coated and deep-fried -- at Coaster's (Liggett & Carnes.)

            Sloppy Joes on a Stick (Axel's in the Food Building)

            Spam Burgers (Spam Burgers, Carousel Park)

            The Uffda Brat -- a Norwegian brat wrapped in lefse and speared with a toothpick at Sausage Sister and Me (Food Building)

            The BeerGarita, a margarita made with beer (Tejas, the Garden)

            Hmmm...I think the only one that's really calling to me is the "sloppy joe on a stick." That's just weird enough that I'll have to investigate it. If it's hot, I may have to try the BeerGarita.

            EDIT: and I have to disagree with Rick Nelson re: the key lime pie on a stick (which he declares "fabulous"). I've high hopes in the past, but thought that somehow they didn't hit the right combo of sweet & sour with the lime. I can't remember now whether I thought it was too sweet or too limey, but I just remember I didn't quite think it worked. Also, it tasted chemically to me.

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I wanted those apple fries and couldn't find them!! Too late now

          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            The State Fair Food Finder is pretty cool: http://gopher.mnstatefair.org/foodfin...
            You can do a search for new stuff - I did that, and copied and pasted the actual new items below:
            Apple Lil's: Coca-Cola cheescake dipped in chocolate on-a-stick and Soda fountain funnel cakes
            Axel's: Sloppy joes on-a-stick
            Blue Moon Dine In Theater: Peanut butter hot dog
            Bridgeman's: Old fashioned ice cream soda
            Coasters: Deep fried crumb coated apple fries
            Epiphany Diner: Two children's menu offerings
            Famous Dave's: Pork knuckle sandwich and Kool Aid pickles
            French Meadow Bakery: Rocky road scones on-a-stick (caramel, chocolate, marshmallow)
            Fried Fruit: Batter dipped deep fried fruit on-a-stick in a variety of the following combinations: grapes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, strawberry, pineapple, apple, pineapple, banana, kiwi, peaches, cherries, pears, watermelon fruit blended drinks made fresh on site to include fruit combinations, Dasani bottled water
            Green Mill Pizza: Dixie wings on-a-stick
            O'Garas: Corned beef and cabbage dipped in batter on-a-stick
            Old English Fish & Chips: Calamari
            Potato Skins: Buffalo chips and cheese (sliced potatoes with melted cheddar cheese with optional toppings)
            Ragin Cajun: Breakfast bread bowls (blackened steak or shrimp, eggs, potatoes, cheese), jambalaya (eggs, potatoes, cheese)
            Sausage Sister & Me: Uffda Brat (Norwegian sausage wrapped in a potato lefse)
            Scotch Eggs: Butterscotch cake (cream filled dipped in butterscotch) on-a-stick
            Spam Burgers: Spam burger (fried Spam served on a bun with cheese and/or pineapple), Spam curds (Spam and cheese battered and deep fried)
            Tejas: BLP quesadilla (bacon, lettuce and picodegallo)
            Ultimate Confections: S'mores on-a-stick (toasted marshmallows in chocolate topped with graham cracker crumbs)

            1. re: Danny

              Thank you! I remembered (from last year) that there was a way to search on the new items, but couldn't figure out how to do it.

              What are kool aid pickles?

              And, I hate to say it, but spam curds could be good, too, depending on how they pull it off.


                1. re: Danny

                  Okay, that's on my must try list! Crunchy & sour & sweet, what's not to like?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Alton Brown tried Koolickles on Feasting on Asphalt this week. He was extremely skeptical but seemed to like them. Maybe if one were sitting in front of me I'd eat it but I don't think I'll seek them out.

          3. 1.) Many moons ago I worked as a Dairy Bartender at the Gopher Dairy Bar (attached to the Cattle Building). As such, I am slavishly loyal to their thick and delicious shakes. This booth is staffed by members of the U of M - St Paul's Gopher Dairy Club and serves as their annual fundraiser.

            2.) I don't know what's new this year, but I have tried several new things over the past couple of years. Deep Fried Snickers: good, but too rich to eat the entire thing. Share with a friend. Pickle Dog on a Stick: pickle spear schmeared with cream cheese and wrapped in a slice of lunchmeat. Delicious. I think it might get bumped up to Category 1 "Thing you cannot leave the Fair with out eating." Deep Fried Tuna Casserole on a Stick: I admired their inventiveness and it didn't taste half bad. The dipping sauce is cream of mushroom soup.

            3.) Coat your stomach with Grain Belt Premium first so the rest of the calories won't be absorbed. ...What? I dare you to find the flaw in that logic.

            3 Replies
            1. re: StPauliGirl

              StPauliGirl, are you referring to last year's new item " hot dish on a stick"? If so, I don't believe it was tuna casserole but some kind of ground meat (beef pork combo, if I recall correctly) hotdish on stick.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                That sounds right. What a terrible memory I have!

              2. re: StPauliGirl

                SPG -
                1) love those shakes
                3) spot on logic!

              3. I can only handle the fair about once a decade. What's the verdict on the much-ballyhooed hotdish on a stick from last year?

                3 Replies
                1. re: pgokey

                  Once a decade? I go at least twice every year!

                  It was fun and creative, but not a solid homerun. It was basically tator tots and meatballs alternating on a stick, then breaded & deep fried and served with a "cream of mushroom soup" sort of a sauce on the side. There might have been some peas in there somewhere, too, although I can't now quite remember.

                  My main complaint is that the tator tots couldn't hold up to the extreme heat of the deep-fry and basically disintegrated into mush... So, every other bite was a bite of deep fried mush.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    The fair is just not my scene. The chief reason for me to go is to eat the food, which is never as tasty as I want it to be, and I always want stuff that I don't need to be eating anyway.

                    I was inspired by this thread to go to Town Talk and get their better-than-the-fair's cheese curds. That's enough fried stuff for me this year.

                  2. re: pgokey

                    I cannot leave the fair without having:

                    1) Austrian or Australian battered potatos (see, I don't even remember the name). They're med-to thicker cut slices of potato (the long way), deep fried and then drizzled with not so great cheese sauce and ranch sauce. Then you get a flag on a toothpick put on the plate. I know...I know..but it's greasy goodness.

                    2) A shake or cone from the dairy barn.

                    3) I discovered some sausage sampler (cant recall - ) right in front of the MPR building. It's REALLY GOOD STUFF. If you get the sampler, you get cajun, andouille and garlic sausage pieces? Hmm....

                    4) CORN DOG!

                    Haven't tried anything on the "new foods list" - with the prices there, I have to stick to the staples!

                    Healthy: Yep -I agree- milk stand, the roasted corn, an ice cream cone is reasonable - especially if you share it. Otherwise, it is much too big. Andre's cubed watermelon (though I'm sure it's pricey for fruit), a snocone, West Indies Soul Cafe - maybe it's not extremely healthy but a healthier option as it's chicken (choose your thigh, wing, breast) with a jerk seasoning....not sure how horrible (against everything else there) it could be.

                  3. 1. Roasted corn, and a chocolate malt from the stand outside the Fine Arts building.
                    2. Not yet. But this IS the fair, and so any hesitations I might hold about a spamburger are suspended for ten days. Will report back.
                    3. Band together with your friends. Really. Except for roasted corn, I've found that I usually just wanted a taste: a bite of cheese curd, a couple of fries, one of Martha's cookies, and so on. Shared servings are kinder to both the caloric and financial budgets.

                    1. Gotta love the fair threads!

                      1) What's the one thing you cannot leave the fair without eating?

                      A cream puff (Dan Patch Ave. and Liggett St.), a corn dog, a pickle dog, mini donuts, a pork chop on a stick from Schumacher's (Carnes Ave. between Nelson and Underwood), and a shake from the dairy barn. Sharing very little.

                      2) Have you tried any of the "new" foods?

                      Not yet - we're going tomorrow, maybe we will try a "new" food, maybe we won't - I'll post again if we do.

                      3) Do you have any tips for semi-healthy eating at the fair?


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: diesel

                        Healthy-eating? There is! Go off the fairgrounds to a restaurant which serves healthy food or to your home. Whenever I've gone to the Iowa State Fair, I usually get my hand stamped and leave to have lunch at a Subway restaurant. Then I return. It'd be nice if the Iowa State Fair people would allow a Subway franchisee to operate during the course of the Iowa State Fair, but I doubt it.

                        1. re: Braniff

                          i think that market is already cornered at the fair by the booth that sells the deli express sandwiches. i'd probaby lose interest in going to the fair if every other booth was a mcd's or a subway or other nationally franchised chain, personally. i'm glad they don't allow it and instead give the local independent folks a shot-- it keeps the fair unique and interesting. i probably wouldn't pay admission in order to get a run of the mill strip-mall eating experience, no matter how cool the farm exhibits are.

                      2. Here is a link to the fair map... http://www.mnstatefair.org/pages/fair...

                        1) The cheese curds in the food building off Underwood & Carnes. None of the other Cheese curds can compare to them.
                        2) The shredded turkey sandwich right near the milk stand. Juicy and a bit salty, but good salty. Don't get the turkey leg, get the sandwich - Fantastic!
                        3) A big pile of fries from the store near the Southwest corner of Dan Patch and Underwood Street (East of the Bandstand).
                        4) Sweet Martha's cookies on the way out.

                        1. 1) Roasted corn, chocolate ice cream from the Dairy Bar inside Empire Commons, honey lemonade, and a corn dog. (Thanks for the tip, cayjohan, on the foot-long corn dogs near the horse barn - I must try one!)

                          2) Haven't been yet. But none of the new foods sound good to me, except maybe the Uffda brat.

                          3) I avoid fried food (except for the corn dog), share the really rich stuff, and drink lots of water. That's as healthy as I'm willing to be - for gosh sakes, it's the fair! But the tips above are really helpful.

                          Also - sorry, but I haven't had time yet to update the moster list of fair food. There are a bunch of changes this year (new foods, dropped foods, vendor name changes). Doncha hate it when work interferes with the important things in life?


                          1. just got back from day one of the fair. ricardo and i go every year - sometimes twice. he's watching his weight, so we share everything.
                            1 - sunflower honey ice cream sundae with honey on top - always a treat. this is the only place you can get it....the fair. makes it all the more special. we then sit and eat it next door and breathe in the aroma of all the christmas trees...and complain that pretty as they are, they are too full and thick. (we like charlie brown trees:))
                            - also love corn dogs even better than pronto pups. got a coupon book this year and got a big dog which could be dangerous as it's very l o n g and on a pointy stick and we had to push it up so we didn't do throat surgery. wouldn't do that again. will try the corn dog booth by the horse barn next time as suggested in another post here.
                            - used our coupon book at bridgeman's and got a turtle sundae (sans muffin). ricardo said we were splitting it, so the disher kindly gave us two containers to keep the fighting down - it was delicious. nice toasty pecans and lotsa topping, just right. a true ice cream day.
                            - used to always get peter's hot dogs, but we remember when they were a dime, so we went without this year - i think they are at least two bucks. i used to sell scotch heather perfume for friends in the grandstand (back in the early 60's) and lived on those hot dogs which were also infused with the perfume essence, never to be duplicated again, i fear.
                            - kinda miss the old food building before they jazzed it up - especially the chocolate eclairs that are no longer there - ricardo thought about them all year and was disheartened to see them no longer around.
                            2 - only newish food was a sample of the nitro ice cream - very good, but we saved ourselves for the honey sunflower ice cream.
                            3 - healthy foods - some looked good but we in our dotage have come to this: we park inside the fairgrounds, even tho 9 bucks per car and put water, coke and fresh fruit in the cooler. when we are tired, we go back to the car, roll down the windows, do the crossword puzzle and drink and eat our grapes and blueberries. our plan is to go back to the fair, refreshed, but then we decide "let's go home", stop at cub and get either fresh fish or ground bison and have a semi healthy dinner of bison burgers and chopped salad after out little nap. yes, we are exhausted after the fair and we love going so we can come home and veg out.
                            --loved all the other suggestions from this post and last year's, so i'm ready to go back and sample the pork chop on a stick, the lamb in the food building and something from giggles....and maybe those kool aid pickles.

                            1. 1)Scotch Egg on a stick, something from Giggles (walleye cakes and smoked salmon are both very good), honey lemonade from the honey booth and cheese curds.

                              2)They don't sound very delectable this year...peanut butter hot dog and Spam curds? Maybe the corned beef and cabbage on a stick would be worth a try.

                              3)I don't even try.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Quince

                                I just love that honey lemonade! It's the best bargain; a nice sized cup for a buck.

                                Don't forget the 1919 root beer too!

                              2. 1) A half-and-half container of fried green tomatoes and corn fritters with honey butter, a corn dog, a strawberry/choc crepe, and fresh cut french fries with lots of vinegar. Icy cold root beer (from the stand on Dan Patch) and honey lemonade. It would kill me to choose just one.
                                2) I stick to my old buddies. Although that uffda brat sounds interesting.
                                3) Did anyone mention watermelon at the watermelon stand (Andre's)? Other possibilities: giant pickles, the pork chop on a stick, lots of sandwiches (the roasted turkey one from the stand that sells the big gross turkey legs is good as are Schumacher's various sausages and brats) and gyros. Roasted corn of course. The crepe place has savory crepes. And a stand in one of those big food courts offers fresh fruit, raw vegetables w/dip and a cream cheese/veggie pie.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: clepro

                                  I looked at those Uff Da brats and they looked really heavy. Didn't get one.

                                  We tried a spoonful of Blue Sky's nitro ice cream- super rich and ultra vanilla flavored. One spoonful was enough.

                                  The Minnesota wines at Schumachers were decent. The whites were a bit too sweet and cloying for our tastes. The reds were drinkable.

                                  Always gotta have a sample bag of salt water taffy on the way out.

                                2. I always try something from the Giggles Campfire Grill at the north end.

                                  "Offering: Big game bratwurst (elk, buffalo, pork), elk burgers, salmon wrap, chicken tenders, salmon on-a-stick, walleye fries, walleye cakes, foot-long walleye sandwich, breaded and fried chicken on-a-stick, porcupine meatballs on-a-stick (wild rice and ground pork)."

                                  1. Oh my! Dinner (to share) at the Fair:

                                    Cheese puff (fantastic, as always, with an explosion of whipped cream and powdered sugar in every bite)

                                    Kool-aid pickle (crunchy and mildly sweet, surprisingly not at all sour)

                                    Beergarita--(okay, once you stirred it up--could be pretty freshing on a sweltering hot day)


                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      You know, don't you, that they'll put that cream puff on a stick if you ask them nicely? At least they would last year. Note that I don't recommend this, though, except for people who are eating only food-on-a-stick at the fair. It's hard enough to eat a cream puff that isn't on a stick...


                                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                                        HA! That is funny. I admit to having a soft spot for foods on a stick, but, you're right, I imagine it would make those cream puffs even more impossible to eat. Of course, that means you have to head over to the Star Tribune booth immediately for the free handiwipes.

                                        Taking this opportunity to add the places link.


                                        Minnesota State Fair
                                        1265 Snelling Ave N, Falcon Heights, MN 55108

                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Trying to add more photos:

                                        Twisted sister on a stick (good, although, it's yet another variety of dog on a stick, from Sausage Sister & Me in the food building)

                                        Smelt fry (my first smelt ever--from somewhere in the food building. I thought the breading was unnecessary)

                                        Strawberry malt (rich and creamy and decadent, passing itself off as wholesome,, this year with Minnesota-grown strawberries, from the dairy building)

                                        Okay, not available for sale at the fair, alas, but check out the meat prize winners in the cases right in front Princess Kay and the Butterheads: St. Joseph Meat Market's prize-winning "funeral hotdish in a smoked brat"! Just when you think you've seen everything...


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          And, of course, no state fair "meal" would be complete without an order of cheese curds, we got ours from the Mouth Trap as is our tradition.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            So, we'll hit the Fair one more time. I'm definitely going to have to try the corn fritter, the turkey sandwich, and the gizmo sandwich. Also, has anyone tried the sloppy joe on a stick yet? I see lots of people wanting to try it in this thread, but haven't seen a report yet from anyone who actually has tried it.

                                            Speaking of sloppy joes, we did head up to St. Joseph Meat Market to try the funeral hotdish in a brat (we tried the fresh brat, rather than the smoked brat I saw in the Dairy Building at the Fair)--the funeral hotdish brat wasn't that amazing, really. It had noodles in it, which gave it an interesting texture, but overall, it just tasted like sausage to me, a very peppery sausage. However, when we were at St. Joseph's Meat Market, we did pick up some of their sloppy joe brats and thought they were surprisingly good and sloppy joe-tasting.

                                            Here's a link to more on that, for post-fair dining. :)



                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              We tried the sloppy joe on a stick and it is terrible. We thought we got the wrong thing at first, as it was just a pronto-pup with a dipping sauce.

                                              The dog inside is spiced differently than a regular hot dog, however it does not taste like ground beef. The sauce does not taste tomato-y like manwhich sauce either. It truly fails to reproduce either the flavor or mouth-feel of a sloppy joe, which is disappointing as I think with a little more effort, it could have been done well.

                                              Also, I think Axel's changed their mac & cheese on a stick as it did not taste as good as last year.

                                              1. re: Foureyes137

                                                Oh, that's crummy news, both on the sloppy joe on a stick and the mac and cheese on a stick. :( I had never gotten around to trying the mac and cheese on a stick (although, I have tried and do actually like the spaghetti on a stick--it's in the food building, can't remember the vendor), but now I guess I can skip both the sloppy joe and mac and cheese on sticks. Bummer. That just leaves room for the other things I want to try, too.

                                                Thank you for reporting back to save us from regrettable choices!


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Oodles of Noodles. And that is one of our favorites as well. (As is the Nitro Ice Cream next door and lamb on a stick on the other side.)

                                                  Last year the mac&cheese was more like those at Grumpy's, which are our favorite. This year (at least last Sunday) more breading and less flavor.

                                                  1. re: Foureyes137

                                                    the lamb on a stick, grass-fed gyros, etc are sustainably farmed (the lamb shop) and probably fit the criteria of semi-healthy eating/state of organic food at the fair-- good that Foureyes rec's them, i didn't try--the food bldg was so crowded it made me woozy. will try next year.

                                                    never found the gizmo, didn't look hard enough i guess. the honey sunflower sundae was the best! dh declared it "most pleasing thing at the fair." also enjoyed the corn fritters & fgt. while we were licking the bowl of our sundae in front of the honey display, two perspiring deliverymen brought in more honey ice cream on hand carts-- it appears from the labels on the tubs that kemps is contracted to make the stuff. i don't know whether to be shocked or not, but the ice cream was very tasty!

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      Along the lines of the honey sunflower sundae, we loved the honey lemonade. When I was a kid, my mom would make hot lemon and honey to sooth our sour thoats, so this was a funny memory inducing beverage.

                                                      My wife on the other hand had been given warm salt water to gargle when she had a sore thoat (man was I lucky) and had never tasted lemon and honey. She thought it was the best thing she'd ever drank and went back for seconds.

                                        2. 1) Favorites: French fries (booth across from Empire Commons), 1919 root beer, cheese curds (near the root beer), deep fried Snickers, and Sweet Martha's cookies.
                                          2) New foods? I usually stick with the classics
                                          3) Healthy? Not really. Closest is the frozen apple cider in the Ag building

                                          20 Replies
                                          1. re: Josh Resnik

                                            Ok, so not really a reply to the original post's questions, but as i get ready for the first fair trip of the year:

                                            Anyone know anything about the "Viper Jerky" discussed on yesterday's Kare11 news? a google search turns up only a brief mention of the product on their (KARE11's) website with no vendor listed, and i couldn't glean anything else off the fair's website - searched jerky but didnt find anything. any help on where it is or who is selling it (or more info on what it is, other than super hot) would be much appreciated.

                                            Now, to toss up the controversial question of the day, where to buy my curds? Andrew Zimmern posted on his blog about a place on the outside of the food bldg, but nothing on the official website comes up when you search for curds. I remember not being super impressed by the Mouth Trap on previous visits. was this experience atypical? is there a definitive "best place to get you curd on?" - were leaving in a few hours, so an comments are much appreciated.

                                            In an non-chow vein, is anyone else annoyed that the bus to the fair is only free from park and ride locations? we will likely end up driving farther than the nearest bus stop to save basically a fair admissions worth of bus fare.

                                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                                              I believe the stand that AZ is referring to is the stand on the SW corner of Dan Patch and Underwood, which I know someone on a previous post here referred to as "the original cheese curd stand". Apparently these people ran the cheese curd stand inside the food building prior to The Mouth Trap and they were ousted due to politics/money issues or some such. AZ is stretching his definition of "outside the food building". From the food building this stand is a little north and across the street (kitty corner from the information center). If memory serves, there is a french fry stand directly on the corner, and the cheese curd stand is one or two stalls over from that. I have had curds at both places, but can't remember if one is better than the other. Also, FYI, If lines are horrible, and you must get curds, there is a stand back by the cattle barn that almost never has a line, since it's kind of tucked back off the beaten path.

                                              1. re: autmommy

                                                autmommy, politics aside, since we're pursuing deliciousness here on chowhound, which cheese curd stand do you think is best? Just curious, I've only had the mouth trap curds (see the photos I posted in this thread, in the wee hours of the morning this morning).


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  As, you'll see above, my memory does not serve me that well. I've been to the fair many times over the years, and cannot remember which stand is the best. In fairness, I believe that for the last year or two, I have only had the ones at The Mouth Trap. But I will say this: I am going tomorrow, and I shall sacrifice my cholesterol levels and do a side by side taste test and report back (I have some people to share with me, so I should make it back to report, anyhoo)

                                                  1. re: autmommy

                                                    Way to go! Take one for the team, autmommy, and help us get to the bottom of the cheese curd controversy once and for all. I can't wait for the results!

                                                    The Mouth Trap were my first-ever cheese curds, so, I really don't have much of a basis for comparison, I'm afraid! (Before that, I'm afraid I'd never even heard of them!)


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Just got back. Found the Mouth Trap CC disappointing. They were mozarella. Shouldn't they be actual cheddar curds? Though the batter was smooth, not "breaded" if you will, like when you get frozen cheese curds in a restaurant.

                                                      Two years ago I got them from an outside stand. I'm going back next week and try to refind it.

                                                      1. re: jeanmt

                                                        What we had last night was definitely not mozzarella, just yellow cheddar. In fact, my companion swears he could taste the hint of tangyness from the rennet.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          The cheese of choice for the "big producer" cheese curd stands at the fair is most definitely a fairly basic cheddar. Whether it's white or orange is usually just a consequence of what their producer was able to provide that day. Some of the smaller places might try different cheeses, and I bet a lot of the weird curds you find at restaurants around the Twin Cities are a result of using a different sort of cheese...

                                                          I think I said it in a previous thread, but I may as well chime in again... I think you're *probably* just as likely to find differences between batches of cheese curds from the same stand made at different times as you are to find differences between the two different locations. I say probably because I haven't been to the Mouth Trap since the first year it opened and haven't tried the direct comparison. I stick to the Dan Patch "Original" Cheese Curds for my own sentimental reasons...


                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Okay, here is my report as promised on the cheese curd side by side challenge. In the attached photo, the cheese curd on the left is from the "original" cheese curd place on the corner of Dan Patch and underwood. The one on the right is from The Mouth Trap in the food building. In general, the average cheese curd from the original stand was larger. The curd had a nice fresh taste and was not overly salty. That being said, the curd almost still seemed "squeaky" when I bit into it. It was fairly solid, not very melty and stretchy, almost as if it hadn't been cooked at quite a high enough temperature. This was even more pronounced as the curds cooled. The curds from the mouth trap were generally smaller, and you seemed to get a smaller amount of curds at The Mouth Trap (though not by much). Their coating was more crisp and browned, and the curd inside was melty. This made their curds a bit more greasy seeming. The batter was obviously salted here, which made these curds saltier as well. I am giving the edge here to The Mouth Trap. Their curds were greasier and saltier, which made them tastier. They were cooked at the right temperature, execution was better, regardless of politics. If you don't like overly salty greasy foods, you may prefer the original cheese curd stand. But I am guessing that if you don't like greasy salty foods, you won't be getting cheese curds anyway ; )
                                                        The wait was comprable at both stands, about 5 minutes in the middle of a busy Saturday afternoon. The cheese curds at the original stand were $4.50, the ones at the Mouth Trap were $5.00.
                                                        Please note that to my non-chowhoundy companion, the differences were not that pronounced. She knew what I was doing and tasted them both as well and her final verdict was that "I didn't really notice a big difference between them"
                                                        Autmommy's winner in the Cheese Curd Challenge? - The Mouth Trap!

                                                        1. re: autmommy

                                                          Huzzah! Thanks autmommy--it's good to have the results of the side by side comparison.


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            While i appreciate the side by side comparison, i feel like the conclusions drawn from the facts collected are somewhat suspect. While i agree that a love of greezy salty things is essential to enjoying curds, this certainly doesnt mean that there is not such a thing as too salty or too greezy. autmommy's report seems, more than anythign, to confirm my memories of the mouth traps curds as overly salted greezy messes.

                                                            As to the issue of texture. i thought squeaking was considered a virtue in general when it came to cheese curds - but i am from california so what do i know. personally the "original" (dan patch) curds had a preferable texture (firmer and less "melty") I think it may be fair to say that i prefer non-fair style curds of the breaded as opposed to battered variety. apologies for the heresy.

                                                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                              Tex--how can you say the conclusions are suspect? autmommy tried them both, side by side, and expressed her personal preference, based on her own tastes, for one over the other. I think that's a pretty sound conclusion for declaring a preference. As with much in chowhound'ism and in life, it's a matter of personal preference, and not objective. But, of all of us, autmommy (and Orange Julius below) seem to be the only 'hounds who have really explained their taste preference for one stand's version of deep fried curds over another's. Your preferences may vary, but until you get out there and try them side by side yourself, you're not going to have much of a basis for comparison. I've tried the Mouth Trap's deep fried version and like them, grease, tang, salt and all, and haven't felt the need to try them anywhere else (at the fair--I've tried them other places and, yuck.) And while squeakiness is indeed an outstanding quality in a curd (they lose the squeak after only a few hours), I want my deep fried ones to be more gooey (hotter) than squeaky (not hot enough). I'm pretty sure you can see them actually making the curds in the back at the Mouth Trap and, if so, you can assume they are sufficiently fresh, even sans squeak.

                                                              EDIT: P.S. I'm a tiny bit disappointed that autmommy didn't prefer the "original" cheesecurds simply because I know gromit has such an emotional/loyalty attachment to them, which I totally respect, but, again, this is just one person's conclusion.


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Oh, TDQ, you simply must try them at Town Talk. Please report if/when you do - I want to know what you think.

                                                                1. re: pgokey

                                                                  Will do, although I think I've met my quota of cheese curds for the next several months, so it might be awhile. What makes TTD's so appealing?


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Fair enough - my intent was not to declare another persons preferences to be illegitimate, but simply to point out that the grounds on which they are based to be contrary to what i feel constitutes a good boat of cheese curds. my objection was (is) twofold: first, i think that things can be too salty and too greasy and prefer an appropriate (tastewise, if not healthwise) level of salt and grease - autmommy's description appears to imply the more the better. the second issue i have is with regard to the texture - more melty = more messy, im just not that into hot greasy cheese sliding out of ever crack in the batter.

                                                                    as a side not, as someone who has worked a deep fryer plenty, i believe there is some inconsistency with regard to the temperature of the oil/curd. it is my opinion that the melty-ness and greasy-ness at the mouth trap is due to a frying temperature which is too low, not too high. at lower temps the curds fry longer to get appropriately crispy batter, which both causes excess grease to stay on them and for the chees to spend too long in hot oil making it melt. higher temps keep the cheese from slip sliding away and allow for a quickly crisping batter. again, enjoy what you will, these are just my observations from a measly few trips to the fair.

                                                                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                      Ah, okay, I see your point now. I think I might have been the one to equate the high heat with the gooey inside+crispier outside, not autmommy. (I've never tried to deepfry cheese, or much of anything, really, so I certainly have no expertise in such a thing.) I don't recall that she made the specific relative heat connection.

                                                                      I don't think the mousetraps cheesecurds are so melty and gooey that they drip everywhere (if you look at both autmommy's photos and mine you'll see they still maintain their curdly shape), but just that they are melty enough to lose their squeak.

                                                                      As far as whether they are "too much" salt or grease, well, again, that's personal preference. I don't find the Mouthtrap curds to be "too" salty or greasy for my taste for the half-serving of deep fried cheesecurds I eat per year. The cheesecurds are too salty+greasy+rich for me to eat more than that a year, though, which is why I've never had the motivation to try the side by side comparison! There are two many things to eat at the fair for me to want to eat a whole bunch of the same thing!


                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      In addition to the traits that are present in the Mouth Traps (cheese is nice and gooey, tang taste in the batter, some grease but not too much), they put scallions and capers in the batter. The batter itself is very light - the curds end up being very delicate and crispy.

                                                                      Before I got them, I was slightly concerned that the scallions and capers would transform the curds into something too removed from the state fair experience I wanted to enjoy when I was there, but that wasn't the case. They go down list like the fair curds, but much tastier.

                                                                      I know what you mean about grease. We also got onion rings (best in town, for my money), and a kitchen sink burger (passed my picky muster). That's enough fat for a month, thank you. Enjoyed it, though.

                                                  2. re: tex.s.toast

                                                    Viper jerky is from Forster's Meats in Plymouth. It will stunt your growth. My wife and I make a couple trips a year to Forster's just to get this stuff, and well... once you've tried it you'll know why. If you can't stand mouth numbing hot, don't bother. It really is THAT hot. And, oh.... we love the pain.

                                                    1. re: HuaGung

                                                      mmmmm . . . mouth numbing hot - bringing back fond memories of some som tam (papaya salad) i had on christmas in thailand, the sting lasted literally all day, and it was more than worth it, it was the best part (certainly better than other lingering food after effects, but thats another story)

                                                      if one didn't want to go to plymouth to get Forster's Viper Jerky, can it be found at the fair, or is this another lie cooked up by the newsmedia? has anyone seen it at this years fair? also HuaGung, any info on how its made and what makes it so incendiary?

                                                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                        I'd call Forster's on Monday (they're closed Sundays), and ask them where it's offered at the Fair. They'll likely know. As for what makes it so hot? The counter guys there say it's the habaneros in the 'cure'. My wife is Thai and claims it's hotter than anything she ate in Thailand. You get to enjoy the heat twice, if you know what I mean...

                                                        Forster's Meats & Catering
                                                        40 Hwy 55, Medina, MN 55340

                                                2. 1) Cheese on a stick--it's a corn dog, but instead of a hot dog center, it's a cheese center! I love everything about a corn dog except the hot dog, so this is perfect for me! Another favorite is the deep fried Milky Way on a stick AKA toothache on-a-stick.
                                                  2) I went yesterday for a work outing, and didn't have the chance to try anything new (didn't want be a true pig in front of my co-workers!) but I'll probably go back another time, and if I do, I definitely want to try the sloppy joe on-a-stick.
                                                  3) I'm with StPauliGirl--fill up on beer and you won't have as much room for food! If you really want healthy, get Lite!

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: drew13000

                                                    Just returned....

                                                    The sunflower seed honey ice cream was amazing - such a great flavor - thanks to the prior poster who mentioned it. Its now on my "must have" list. You get a big bowl for 4.25 - thanks for pointing this item out - I would have never known!

                                                    Pork chop on the stick was excellent - but tiny. But no wait.

                                                    other items - a few of the kids TT minidonuts, a few sweet marthas cookies, corn dog as discussed above - outside the horse barn.

                                                    Since it was 8 am & I had my chowkids I was unable to follow the wisdom of SPG.

                                                    and I have only had cheese curds once at the fair (the only time in my life) & I vowed that I would never have them again - am I missing something? Perhaps it wasn't the stand of choice for chowhounds.

                                                    Happy August!

                                                    1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                      Susie, were the cheese curds you tried long ago gooey, salty, greasy and almost too hot to eat? Then, you probably weren't missing anything. ;-). Maybe wait for the results of autmommy's taste test and try the whichever "winner" she declares!


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        yes - and when they cooled down they looked like kitchen waste.

                                                        I have a few more fair visits left - maybe I'll give them another shot.

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          You just made me so hungry with that spot-on description...Mmmmmm curds. I just wish they'd have one dispenser with barbeque sauce.

                                                        2. re: St Paul Susie

                                                          St Paul Susie- don't feel bad about not liking fried cheesecurd. My first time eating was when i was twelve, and last year when i was 29 i decided to give it another go and maybe my pallete had change. Nope I still don't like it.

                                                          1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                            Yesterday, I decided that I might just about be over cheese curds. The order from the Original Cheese Curds place was just too greasy and salty. So was the half of my son's order that I ate too....

                                                            Actually, I usually get curds from the place down by the horse barn which don't seem as greasy or as salty.

                                                            I say that I'm "just about" over them because they are a sentimental favorite of mine. But perhaps my taste buds are just getting too old.

                                                        3. 1.) I always like to get the fried pickle slices from the food building, the roasted corn-on-the cob (the ones I like get don't seem like health food to me!), cheese curds, and the Kiwanis chocolate malts. My husband always gets the Scotch egg on a stick.
                                                          2.) Haven't been this year yet.
                                                          3.) About the only truly healthy thing I ever ate there was an olive assortment on a stick that I got in the bazaar. I figure if you only go once a year, do a lot of walking at the fair, and limit your consumption you can afford to eat some grease! However, I also tend to split things with people - I never eat a whole thing of cheese curds myself, because I'd rather sample more things. State fair food tapas style :)

                                                          1. I'm going to weigh in on the Cheese Curds. Because I really like them.

                                                            I had some at the Mouth Trap last night. And yes, I could taste the tang of the rennet.
                                                            They are definitely cheddar! Not necessarily orange, but that is probably because they didn't add the orange color. Mozzarella has a different setting process--it's more mechanical than chemical, so wouldn't have that taste, and fresh mozz wouldn't form squeaky, clumpy, curds--they'd be more like balls.

                                                            As for the controversy on which stand is better, I like the Mouth Trap. They have more tang. They are in the Food building, where there is seating outside. And they have great ketchup dispensers, and I think ketchup belongs on curds.

                                                            Thanks for having a thread about the deep fried!

                                                            1. 1. The foot long hot dogs. Real frankfurters with casing-crunch.
                                                              2. Sweet Kraut from Schumachers. To die for.
                                                              3. Sweet potato pie from West Indies Soul in the Food Building.
                                                              4. The honey sunflower seed ice cream has gone downhill. Was it yellower in years gone by? Somehow I tasted more honey in the past.
                                                              5. Not a cheese curd person.

                                                              1. 1. Roasted Corn, some kind of Mediterranean food (This time around I had lamb on a stick, but its usually a gyro), Nitro Ice Cream ( loooove the smooth ice cream), Something on a stick ( This time around was gator and HATED it. I thought it would be grilled gator tail, but it was like a sausage!), Nut roll.

                                                                2. My girlfriend and I had the fried fruit. I didn't care for it, but all I had was the apple so I guess I wouldn't really know. I tried the turkey leg for the first time, and I ATE IT ALL! I was proud

                                                                3. Milk and... fried fruit?

                                                                1. OK, heres yesterday's report:

                                                                  Clear Winner:
                                                                  Fried Green Tomatoes and Corn Fritters from a freestanding booth on dan patch, im pretty sure these are all they serve and they were damn good (your choice, a plate of one, the other, or combo). FGTs were approching perfection, breading/tomato ratio was ideal, deep golden color was just right and the sourness of the tomatoes was great. Didn't get to try as many of the corn fritters as i would have liked because someone who shall remain nameless devoured all but the last two of them while i was people watching/enjoying a fried green tomato ("you can't let me hold the tray and expect it to remain full" she says). There will be another basket of these things on trip two - the only downsides: kinda expensive at 6.50 for the combo (welcome to the fair) and i didn't get the nutritional/culinary point of dipping fried things in honey butter (comes with the fritters) but since this is the fair clearly id left any sense of healfulness at home - though we did manage to throw out half a shake, half a tub of fries and the latter third of a tray of curds.

                                                                  Another surprisingly good choice:
                                                                  The turkey sandwich. On the advice of the good folks of this board i talked my fair partner into it in lieu of a turkey leg, and i have to say, she was none too disappointed. From my quick taste i can understand why, those things are tasty.

                                                                  Best Value:
                                                                  A tie between the dollar honey lemonade and the cider freeze (.75), both located at the epicenter of good value at the fair, the ag building. If i had to knock the honey people (other than the fact that we are natural enemies as i am allergic to bees) the girl working asked if i wanted ice with my lemonade. now, after watching a calf get born for about 45 minutes in the none-too-cool miracle of birth barn, it should have been clear that ice was in order, but she asked nicely and ultimately gave me a nice icey cup of lemonade. Also, wandering the crop art with a cider freeze is a great cool off - some of the art is too good for description, plus this is supposed to be about food, just got and look.

                                                                  After much deliberation we went with the non-mouth-trap curds, from the original cheese curds (the one with the mouse hole #1-4 over the registers) on the south side of dan patch. I won't weigh in on the rennet debate or speculate over the type of cheese used - it was white but that is far from indicative - but i will say that i enjoyed them more than i remember enjoying moth traps from inside the food building.

                                                                  Other foods had, and enjoyed:Giggles walleye and wild rice cakes, Dairy barn milk shake - good weird texture but good. Alligator sausage from bayou bobs - same as ever, which is to say good. Mini Donuts from TT's - i mean, were talking sugared fried dough here, obviously delicious. Fresh fries - good, no great, if only they came in smaller quantities ('id like three fries please').

                                                                  Famous Dave's Koolicle- this was contentious. I enjoyed it despite the fact that i don't enjoy sweet pickles. It got decidedly mixed reviews, however, from my fair partner ("you finish that thing"). Has anyone else gotten one? it seemed different from the one Alton Brown sliced into on feasting with asphault, possibly more shriviled and less permeated with the coolade, and as someone else mentioned, not very sour at all. An interesting experience i would consider repeating somewhere else if i ever saw them again, but not from dave's.

                                                                  The only negative on the food front - tried to get the apple fries at coasters but after watching their "cook" (i'll use the term generously here) struggle for about five minutes without getting close to our order, we decided to ask for our money back. They came out of a big box of frozen things, went into a decidedly not fresh waffle cup, were topped with canned whipped cream and - yuck - smuckers platescapers (which im pretty sure are not even meant to be eaten, certainly not as a primary topping). After watching the guy prepare two steak sandwiches i was pretty sure i didnt want to support Coasters at all. They seem to be the place to go for beer and a bad cover band, but i would advise avoiding their food at all costs. The apple fries were something i was excited about but even without tasting them, just watching the place, im sure they could have come nowhere near the bliss of the fried green tomatoes and corn fritters.

                                                                  ps - ride the magnum before you're too full - it is seriously almost as good as the food, and its clear i like food, right?

                                                                  one last thing- thanks for sticking with me - anyone have any luck with KARE11's mysterious viper jerky? we walked yesterday until our legs hurt and never saw it.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                    Thanks for the FGT report - I passed that stand many times the other day & now I'll stop by

                                                                    1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                      I've had the fried green tomatoes and fritters in previous years. There one of those things that we always wonder why we haven't gotten them again, because they're VERY good, but I think I'm just a little stuck in my routine. By the time I think of it, I'm all munched out...


                                                                    2. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                      Yes! The fried green tomatoes and corn fritters were number 1 on my list above, and are what I head for first every year. I was surprised not to see them show up on anyone else's 'must have' list. Yea, there's no nutritional point to dipping fried corn fritters in honey butter. I think the fritters simply serve as a vehicle to deliver the honey butter to one's mouth. They're delicious together, but if it weren't for the honey butter, I'd skip the fritters altogether and just get a big basket of those slightly sour, slightly gritty, meltingly tender FGTs.

                                                                      1. re: clepro

                                                                        OK, you two -- in all my fairgoing years, I've never tried the FGTs and corn fritters, but I am making room for them this year based on your raves. I'll report back. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                    3. 1) Cheese curds, nitro iced-cream, spaghetti on a stick, strawberry sunday, roasted corn, apples, sweet marthas
                                                                      2) Not this year yet, but I had the mac & cheese on a stick and hot dish on a stick last year, and the reuben and spaghetti the year prior. Most def trying the sloppy joe on a stick this year
                                                                      3) Apples at the Ag building. We go here first to get $.25 apples (you get to pick your own from different varieties) and set a base. Lamb on a stick with yogurt sauce. Roasted almonds (no sugar). Coffee and wine are good for you now right?

                                                                      1. OK. I've been reading this thread and patiently lurking and now there are 55 comments...- I grew up in Michigan but now live in San Diego (DH in the Navy, retired and, well we have to live somewhere and I liked the idea of never having to own a lawnmower or snow shovel my entire adult life). I am very active in the San Diego County Fair as well as the California State Fair system...

                                                                        anyhow- I keep seeing that a *LOT* of you mention the milk at the Fair.

                                                                        I don't understand. Just...milk...like a cup, with ice maybe? Flavored? Instead of other beverages? Free? cheap? Fresh made and unpasteurized? Seriously, I don't understand. I know about the junk foods, stuff on a stick and the regular foods, understand Hot Dish as well as cheese curds...but milk, I don't get it. Doesn't sound likea hot weather/State Fair type of kind of reason to get. Could maybe someone explain briefly to me?


                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Cathy

                                                                          The milk is cheap at $1 per cup (compared to other beverages), all-you-can-drink, ice cold, and very very fresh tasting. My own little tradition, adapted from others, is to get a cup of chocolate chip cookies from Sweet Martha's stand and head over to the milk. I usually end up sharing some of the cookies with strangers since I really only need/want a handful.

                                                                          It's also something of a tradition in its own right and has strong roots in the agricultural background of the Fair. I'd say it's the kind of thing that the Fair is "about" more so than something like deep fried candy bars, ifyaknowwhatimsayin.


                                                                          1. re: gromit

                                                                            Actually, I know exactly what you mean. I consider the Preserved Foods and Home Arts to be the 'heart' of the Fair. But Ag comes in up there at the top also. It is the Farmer that is the reason for the Fair.

                                                                            When I blogged the San Diego County Fair, that was my emphasis in "Part One", although it is a Food blog and so I had to do the junk foods too. (Most of our viewers of the blog look for places and stuff to eat....and I guess photographs of what Americans eat...we have about 1700 hits a day from all over the world and I have no idea what they are looking at.)

                                                                            Thanks for the explanation. That is a good price, even a bottle of water was $3 at our Fair. :)

                                                                            1. re: gromit

                                                                              I got a free sample in the eco building of organic whole milk. It was cold and delicious. I can't remember the brand name that was giving it out, but it is worth stopping by for the free milk if you are on that side of the fair.

                                                                              1. re: churchka

                                                                                im pretty sure its cedar farms. or cedar valley farms, or somethign like that/

                                                                                1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                                  cedar summit


                                                                                  they have other awesome products as well, most notably their organic butter.

                                                                              2. re: gromit

                                                                                I don't know why i never save my cookie for the milk stand, I think because i am one weak individual, and usually eat all the cookies. :P

                                                                            2. Out of curiosity, has anyone on this board ever ordered the lobster and chips or the oysters and chips from the fish and chips booth? I am tempted to try one of them even though the fair certainly doesn't seem like the logical place to eat seafood. I had the shrimp cocktail for a dollar from the booth near the Haunted House one year and I can't say I would do it again...it consisted of a small serving of micro-shrimp swimming in cocktail sauce. Now, I happen to like the Midwestern concoction of a brick of cream cheese coated with cocktail sauce, topped with micro-shrimp and served with triscuits, so I didn't think it was inedible...I just wished I had my dollar back. Any experiences or advice?

                                                                              1. I always have to get a pork chop on a stick as I enter the Fair grounds. And at some point will have to have at least one Pronto Pup and a taco from the Mexican joint in the Food Building. Ditto for a sausage from the Sausage Sisters and the gator/hush puppies from the cajun place near the Grandstand. I go to the Fair four or five times so I'll have plenty of time to sample some new dishes also. As for healthful choices, I don't thnk that's allowed.

                                                                                1. Here are a few choices we sampled yesterday. The Giggle's Campfire Grille Elk Burger, the Food Building Walleye on a Stick, the Gizmo Sandwich and the Coca Cola Cheesecake on a stick from Heritage Square.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Davydd

                                                                                    Davydd, thanks for the pics! Could you please can describe the Gizmo sandwich and the Coca Cola cheesecake? Those intrigue me. Were they good?


                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      The Gizmo sandwich of ground beef and Italian sausage with special sauce and seasonings, covered with melted mozzarella cheese and served on a toasted Italian roll. Andrew Zimmern (Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods) on a talk radio show said this was the best sandwich at the fair. The Gizmo stand is on the north end of Cooper St. near Gate 2.

                                                                                      The cheesecake is frozen and drizzled with what seemingly is pure Coca Cola syrup used in the carbonated drink machines. It was OK and interesting but nothing great. It would have been better if the cheesecake had not been frozen. You can get cheesecake regular or key lime. The food stand is in Heritage Park.

                                                                                      1. re: Davydd

                                                                                        I will heartily endorse the Gizmo sandwich. It is a quite excellent fair food!

                                                                                  2. Well, just got back from the first visit for the year.
                                                                                    1. A corn dog, specifically the Poncho Dog, not the Pronto Pup. Sweet breading, but with a nice yellow corn flavor and a bit of grit in the texture. Cheese on a stick, the one near NPR that actually uses a block of mild cheddar. The "shake" (which seems to be just a big cup of soft serve) at the Gopher stand on the side of the Dairy Barn. I realize these are popular answers and nothing revolutionary, but they are all good.
                                                                                    2. Not this time, but maybe next. The lefse wrapped Brat sounds really good, and I guess a Kool aid pickle is worth a try.
                                                                                    3. Why even answer this question? I wear a front pack with a baby, haul a wagon with two other tots, and spend 8 hours on my feet. Do I really need something "healthy"? I have earned every greasy calorie I eat.!!!
                                                                                    4. There are are plenty over the years, but I have repressed most of those memories.

                                                                                    1. where can I find the sunflower seed honey ice cream at the fair? thanks!!!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: ramekin

                                                                                        It's a little stand outside the horticulture building (it might actually be part of the horticulture building)--near all the beekeeping displays. The sunflower seed honey ice cream sounds good, doesn't it? I plan to try it on my next visit to the fair. I always get a malt from the Dairy Building (now called Empire Commons) on my first visit to the Fair every year, so, I didn't have room for the sunflower+honey ice cream on Thursday's visit. But, thanks to the MSP chowhounds, I now know it (along with a few other items) is a must-do on my next visit.


                                                                                      2. Our first stop is always the Charcoal Hut for a Turkey Leg. Get the jumbo if you can. You can sit there and eat and watch the crowds go by.

                                                                                        I was at the fair twice this year, and tried the curds from both inside and outside the food building. I liked the ones outside, they were $4.75 and I think there were more of them. So good. Also had the Gizmo yesterday for the first time yesterday, definitely worth the walk.

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: sullysully

                                                                                          sully X 2, yay, another person who has done a side by side comparison of the various curds. Aside from there being more of them, was there something specific you remember about the "outside" curds that endeared you to them?

                                                                                          Kool108 has listed some of the calories of Fair foods on their website--the jumbo turkey leg was "the winner" so far...though, I sure don't see cheese curds on there.

                                                                                          EDIT: oops, here's the link. Really, though, I don't recommend clicking on it unless you really have to know. Why spoil your enjoyment? It's only 12 days a year, right? http://www.kool108.com/pages/nikkimil...


                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            corn dog only 250? great! I burn off that many walking around the fair for hours...... Thanks for the info...

                                                                                            1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                              Hey all, Ive been going to the MN fair for 20+ years. Here's my list:

                                                                                              MUST HAVES:
                                                                                              #1) Corn Dog (aka Hot Dog on a Stick) Directly across from Milk stand next to AM980 radio. Sweet Corn Batter...delicious w/ milk too. Other stands w/ the same name can't even compete for some reason.
                                                                                              #2) Deep Fried Turkey Sandwich - Right next to milk stand...Amazing!!
                                                                                              #3) Cheese Curds - any stand will do although I ageee Food Bldg. are greasiest. Add Ketchup.

                                                                                              GOTTA TRY EM:
                                                                                              #1) Onion Rings - Right outside food bldg.
                                                                                              #2) GARLIC FRIES: For you Fry lovers, I had these for the 1st time last year
                                                                                              HUGE portion (2or3 people) with LOTS of real pressed garlic. Can't remember exactly where they are but they are GREAT. I think they are served at a burger stand or something by the Big Arcade.
                                                                                              #3) Shake from the Dairy Building: I am excited for this year's new Strawberry Rhubarb flavor.
                                                                                              #4) Footlong hot dog w/ onions & Kraut...Yummy (kiddie corner from Milk)
                                                                                              #5) Soft Shell Taco w/ sauce.....(2 doors from Milk)
                                                                                              I honestly go one day and spend about 1 1/2 hours w/ in a block radius of the milk stand a nd go home!!
                                                                                              #6) Egg Roll from inside the Bazaar

                                                                                              Pretty Darn Good! ( no particular order)

                                                                                              Sweet Martha's, Deep Fried Snickers, TT Donuts

                                                                                              Thanks for recommending, Im gonna try: Sunflower Honey Ice Cream, Crem Puff, Fried Tomatoes & Fritters

                                                                                              DOWNHILL) Corn on the Cob - Pork Chop on Stick

                                                                                              Have fun and Happy Eating!!

                                                                                              1. re: fairguy

                                                                                                One more thing - I have NEVER had breakfast at the Fair. Any recommedations?

                                                                                                1. re: fairguy

                                                                                                  How can someone called "fairguy" never have had breakfast at the Fair? It seems so...un-fair! Ha!

                                                                                                  Here's a pretty good thread from last year on that, to get you started anyway. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/320289

                                                                                                  EDIT: in addition to what I mentioned in that thread from last year, I've the pancake on a stick (wrapped around a breakfast sausage) from Epiphany diner and thought it was pretty good. The volunteer (I assume) staff all cheers when you order it. It wasn't transcendent, but I thought it was fun. The fudge puppies (waffles on a stick) were too malty for me--but, again, they're on a stick! I still love the chocolate sandwiches--I hope they're back this year. And, of course, don't forget the cream puffs make a pretty decadent breakfast treat!

                                                                                                  I hope you'll be joining us for discussions about non-fair food after Labor Day!


                                                                                                  1. re: fairguy

                                                                                                    We had a breakfast for the first time Saturday. After walking around and checking some menus we were a little unimpressed. We finally settled on the Hamline Church dining hall and had the Hamline Egger of scrambled eggs, ham and cheese on an English muffin with a side of hash browns. The coffee was good and bottomless. Here is a picture.

                                                                                                  2. re: fairguy

                                                                                                    I remember seeing the garlic fry stand - it was at one of the more "sit down" style burger joints in between the food building and the garden, on the west side of the food building. I've wondered about these - now that I see an endorsement, I just may have to try them.

                                                                                            2. Just a note on the "semi-healthy" eating - the Midtown Global Market stand over by the Creative Activities building has gigantic, sweet & juicy Colorado peaches - they were delicious. Their other fruit looked really good too. Then there's always MN apples in the horticulture building.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: egusto

                                                                                                I noticed that stand for the Midtown Global Market but it was closed when I was there on Thursday evening. Do they have any prepared foods or is it mostly produce?


                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  I think it was all fruit (peaches, plums, pluots, and more) I don't think I've ever seen peaches that big, so they were a bit of a novelty. Perfectly ripe and full of juice (organic too!) I've attached a pic, plus one of the obligatory cheese curds.

                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    When I walked by it on saturday, It seemed to be all produce - lots of different things though - pluots, nectarines, peaches, lots of stone fruits. I got the feeling that maybe it was being run by the "farm in the market" people, but didn't get close enough to really scope it out. I did not note any of the other food vendors associated with MGMkt though.

                                                                                                    1. re: autmommy

                                                                                                      Don't you mean the Produce Exchange? They have had those great Colorado Peaches for the past week. They also had some amazing large, but delicious, idaho peaches.

                                                                                                      1. re: bigchow

                                                                                                        probably-- farm in the market is the callisters, i think they *just* do poultry. produce exchange does the fruits and veggies. seems strange that they'd highlight non-local fruit at the state fair though-- i know peaches are not done locally, but you can get MN little plums now, and apples. . .

                                                                                                2. My new favorite is the salmon wrap from Giggles' Campground Grill. It has grilled salmon with cream cheese, a raspberry chipotle sauce, onions and mixed greens in a whole wheat wrap. I don't know how healthful it is, but it must be better for you than the Spam curds.

                                                                                                  1. We just got back from the fair and had a perfect night of eating. We started with the shrimp and cheese poppers with raspberry sauce. I remembered these being a lot better for some reason, they were nothing special. We then went to have the honey sunflower ice cream sundae, the combo dish of corn fritters and fried green tomatoes, a spicy beef stick, and a Gizmo sandwich. The corn fritters were by far the best thing. I also enjoyed the fried green tomatoes, they had great flavor but just felt too greasy to me. The Gizmo was really good for a sandwich, non-snacky thing. Plus, ended up paying someone $1 for a single Sweet Martha's cookie. It was worth it to not gorge ourselves on a bucket of them - the perfect end to the evening.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: katebauer

                                                                                                      I had the corn fritters and fried green tomatoes two nights ago at the fair. The corn fritters, with the butter, were so good I almost cried. I think they are now my favorite fair food. The tomatoes were also pretty good.

                                                                                                    2. Has anyone tried the London Broil steak sandwiches just East of the Grandstand?

                                                                                                      1. I went through the list of food booths on the fair site and read all the posts. I've never been to the fair. I wonder about some things that I didn't see listed:
                                                                                                        1 Are there any booths selling broiled corn held by the stalk like at street fairs in NYC?
                                                                                                        2 Do any booths sell baked potatoes on a stick? An Idaho (style) baking potato brushed with a scant amount of olive oil and rubbed with salt, crushed rosemary, and garlic powder would be a healthier item that'd be tasty to walk around with.
                                                                                                        .3 Are there any gyro meat sandwiches and/or gyro meat over rice stands, like the midtown NYC Halal stands?

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Boleslaw

                                                                                                          The "Corn roast" booth (near the grandstand) sells sweet corn on-the-cob, roasted in the husk

                                                                                                          The stand called "Baked Potato" on Cooper Street and the stand called "Potato Man and Sweety" sell baked potatoes, but not on a stick. http://gopher.mnstatefair.org/foodfin...


                                                                                                          Not directly responsive to your question, but Falafel King (inside the food building) sells shiwarma with lamb, beef, garlic chicken, humus

                                                                                                          There are numerous stands selling gyros, but I don't know if any are halal. It's unfortunate, really, given the growing Somali presence in the Twin Cities.
                                                                                                          Lamb Shoppe
                                                                                                          Pita Pocket Bread

                                                                                                          Fairborn's Fabulous Food Finder good for this kind of thing:

                                                                                                          As far as the New Yorkness of it all, no, it's unabashedly provincial and Minnesotan.


                                                                                                        2. Here's a photo of the sunflower honey ice cream "sundae" (which is simply the ice cream served in a bowl and drizzled with honey). A cone of this is going to be one of my "must haves" from here on out, though, I wish they'd cut the price and the serving size in half. And how funny, soupkitten, about the Kemp's. Still, it was lovely. One of my complaints about ice cream in general is that it's often too sweet--while, this ice cream was certainly sweet, it didn't have a cloying sweetness that makes you want a giant glass of water. The sunflowers added a nice crunch. Very refreshing.

                                                                                                          We also tried the corn fritters with the honey butter. He liked them and thought they were what creamed corn would taste like if you deep fried it. I thought they were too bland and dough-y, though the honey butter was nice. I preferred the fried green tomatoes. I'd never had them before, so didn't know what to expect. I liked the tartness of the tomato itself and the texture of the gritty batter they were dredged in. My primary complaint, though, was that the grease on both the fritters and the fgt tasted old, even first thing in the morning. A photo is attached (fritters+honey butter on the left, tomatoes on the right). This won't be a repeat next year.

                                                                                                          We had breakfast at the Gass Station because it looked diner-y and had patio seating. Unfortunately, our favorite Salem Luthern Church (near the "Progress Building"), which has good egg coffee and reminds us of dining hall at summer camp, already had a line out the door. Big mistake, eating at the Gass Station: dry, overcooked scrambled eggs; boring white toast (no butter); limp, pale hash browns; tough steak over-seasoned with Lawry's; and dreadful service.

                                                                                                          Next year (or, maybe tomorrow or Monday morning), we want to try one of the following. We're looking for a "traditional" sit down kind of breakfast that will fuel us for the morning so we have the energy to race around the fair. Any experience with any of these places?

                                                                                                          Hamline Church Dining Hall
                                                                                                          The Peg (outside of the ag building, apparently, a full-service restaurant).
                                                                                                          J D 's Eating Establishment (NE corner of Dan Patch Ave. and Underwood Ave).
                                                                                                          Robbinsdale OES Dining Hall (wild rice pancakes!).

                                                                                                          We found the Gizmo stand, on machinery hill and across from Giggles, and it looked intriguing, but, we were burned out by then. Gotta leave something for next time!


                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            I tried the wild rice pancakes at the Robbinsdale OES Dining Hall and found them rather unremarkable. This was a few years ago, however...I haven't been back since.

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              I 100% agree about the size of the ice cream - would have enjoyed a scoop instead of a massive bowl.

                                                                                                              I think I'm okay with it being kemp's. Anybody seen it retailed?

                                                                                                              & I am offically over the cheese curds - not my bag.

                                                                                                              Last fair visit tomorrow. Ah Summer....

                                                                                                              1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                                                                                Susie (and soupkitten), according to this Aug 10 article in the Strib about State Fair factoids, Kemp's is indeed the producer of the honey/sunflower seed ice cream and, unfortunately, it's available only at the State Fair.



                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  TDQ - thanks for the info - Now I'll be certain to enjoy a bowl on Monday!

                                                                                                                  Wish I hadn't tossed my ice cream maker!

                                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                My report is too late now, but we had breakfast at the Hamline Church Dining Hall. It was about what you'd expect. The rest of my family had caramel rolls and bacon -- a nutritious way to start the day -- and thought they were pretty good. I, on the other hand should have known better. In the land of Wondra, choosing biscuits and gravy was not the best decision. White white thin gravy with bits of frozen sausage. More sausage on the side. Having said all that, the pancakes and french toast looked pretty good. Service was good.

                                                                                                                I've also eaten at J D's before. It's food was perfectly fine but I would not seek it out as a must see.

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  We did make it to the Fair one final time. We tried the Gizmo sandwich, which is like a sloppy joe, but with Italian spices and mozzarella. (See photo). Andrew Zimmern was going on about it on his radio show, saying everything was made from scratch in the booth (ie., tomatoes reduced down) and that the pork and cheese were local'ish. The bun was unimpressive, but the key is that it held the whole works together without getting soggy, so, that's okay. We liked it--it tasted like real food--something your mom would make for you when you were a kid.

                                                                                                                  We had breakfast at the Peg (near the space tower) and it was 1000 times better than the Gass Station. The toast was buttered, the eggs were to order. I didn't try it, but the steak was the No Name brand. We tried the ham (fine) and sausage (I didn't try it and forgot to ask how it was--it disappeared without complaint, a good sign, I think). It doesn't have the wonderful atmosphere of Salem Lutheran Church dining hall, nor the egg coffee, but it has table service and nice patio seating. Photos attached.

                                                                                                                  (Thank you Quince for your comments about the Robbinsdale dining hall--it sounds like a pass. I wish I'd seen Davydd's comments about Hamline Dining Hall--that sounds like it might be a reasonable stop next year. Anyone else have any recommendations for breakfast next year?)

                                                                                                                  So, overall, my list of must eats for next year:

                                                                                                                  ~Honey sunflower ice cream
                                                                                                                  ~Malt from Dairy Building/Empire Commons
                                                                                                                  ~Cream puffs
                                                                                                                  ~Cheese curds (we'll probably stick with the Mouth Trap)
                                                                                                                  ~Fresh French Fries (somehow, we missed them this year!)

                                                                                                                  Other winners in the rotation (that we try to work in when we can--we can't possibly eat it all, every year):
                                                                                                                  ~Breakfast at Salem Lutheran Church, if we can get in, or, the Peg.
                                                                                                                  ~Gizmo sandwich
                                                                                                                  ~Oodles of Noodles spaghetti on a stick
                                                                                                                  ~West Indies Soul wings
                                                                                                                  ~Moe and Joe's chocolate sandwich
                                                                                                                  ~1919 Rootbeer
                                                                                                                  ~Nutroll on a stick

                                                                                                                  To try next year:
                                                                                                                  ~Hamline Dining Hall for breakfast
                                                                                                                  ~Deep fried turkey sandwich
                                                                                                                  ~Lamb on a stick
                                                                                                                  ~Honey lemonade
                                                                                                                  ~Scotch egg on a stick
                                                                                                                  ~Whatever's new and interesting!

                                                                                                                  Oh, and we did go look at the Spam curds. They started with little cubes of spam that they breaded with flour and bread crumbs (otherwise, he told us, they dry out), then deep fried and serve with a little tub of (ranch dressing I think.) We saw someone eating them and asked what he thought. "Good," he said, "tastes like Spam." We decided to pass. Not that special.


                                                                                                                2. Did anyone try the peanut butter infused hotdog? We could not find it. Is it as bad as it sounds like it could be???

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                                                                                    All right, the fair is now over. BUT - if we're taking votes on the best things. My good friend & husband voted for corn fritters (I can't eat fried stuff) + honey sunflower ice cream (thank you for the introduction everyone!).

                                                                                                                    I vote for Giggle's smoked salmon on a stick w.the rasp. chipotle + rye bread. It felt like real food, and was nice on a hot day. Not to mention they had AWESOME condiments. I had half my plate stacked with marinated peppers, mushrooms, & onions. I'm going back there next year for sure. Anyone know if they are associated with a restaurant? Their food was pretty nice.

                                                                                                                    The ice cream did taste good, but personally I'm not into chunks of nuts in my ice cream. Anyone try the yogurt? Apparently it has either pecans or walnuts instead?

                                                                                                                    Thanks to you guys we all tried new things (at least new to us) this year. It's cool to find such an active group of foodies!

                                                                                                                  2. Being new to Minnesota, this was our first trip to the fair.

                                                                                                                    Mouth Trap cheese curds were quite salty and greasy enough to be satisfying, cannot imagine curds being any more so than that.

                                                                                                                    Sunflower honey ice cream was absolutely fabulous. Would go back just for that.

                                                                                                                    Garlic fries were better than imagined.

                                                                                                                    NOBODY TOLD US ABOUT THE MINNESOTA WINE BOOTH! In the horticulture building. Prairie Rose and Marechel Foch. Tasty. Also, possibly some of the healthiest food "on a stick" at the fair - skewered antipasto and skewered caprese.

                                                                                                                    Organic lamb on a stick was stringy.

                                                                                                                    Walleye on a stick was tasty, but a bit expensive for one little piece of fish.

                                                                                                                    Fried milky way bar. Never again. Ever. Never.

                                                                                                                    It was great having real beer, especially the Summit Octoberfest.

                                                                                                                    Missed the roast corn - ran out of time.

                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                      I didn't realize you were new to MN, but I'm glad you enjoyed your first trip to the Fair. You are now fully initiated! You did put catsup on your curds, right? Very important!

                                                                                                                      I didn't know there we snacks at the wine booth--were they good. Any wines you tasted that you particularly liked?


                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                        Didn't actually try any of the wine booth treats, but they all looked good. They had a couple of skewered desserts, also. One was three little macaroons dipped in chocolate, on a stick (pardon - skewer).

                                                                                                                        And as for catsup on the cheese curds: I *hate* catsup. Sri racha, too, for that matter.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                        Do you mean Northern Vineyard's Prairie Rose, which I think is a Marechal Foch?
                                                                                                                        Any others you'd recommend? (I'm doing the Three Rivers WIne Trail tour next weekend, so would love to hear which you've tried and what you would recommend).

                                                                                                                        1. re: clepro

                                                                                                                          Chowspouse had a couple of glasses of the Prairie Rose. Not as tasty as the pays d'oc that we bring back from Toulouse by any stretch, but a big improvement over the nasty California soda pop pinks. I did not realize that it was made from the Marechal Foch grape, which would explain why it was better than otherwise expected. It was not a full wine tasting experience as much as, being at the state fair, a chance at a glass of something that wasn't beer, and that turned out to be pretty good.

                                                                                                                          Good luck with your wine tour! Sounds like it might be a great topic for another thread.

                                                                                                                          Also note that tomorrow is Sam's Wines first Wednesday tasting, 5-8pm.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                            Thank you, and thanks for the first Wednesday tasting alert. Can't make it this month, but it's going on my calendar for next month.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Loren3

                                                                                                                              sorry to ask if it's obvious, but what's sam's wines?

                                                                                                                              1. re: reannd

                                                                                                                                I think it's Sam's WIne Shop, which is in the warehouse district of Minneapolis.



                                                                                                                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                                                                                  Thanks, never heard of it 'til now =) I was secretly hoping for the Sam's Club by my house, but knew it wasn't true ;)