Previewing the new food options at the State Fair of Texas (2019)

Photo by Ron Jenkins for the Washington Post

Fans of Oklahoma and Texas will actually be given some pretty decent options in 2019.

It’s OU-Texas week, which means many of my fellow gluttons are wondering about this year’s weird, usually nasty-ass food options we’ll have the option of devouring before and after the Oklahoma Sooners play the Texas Longhorns. I’m not going to lie — this year’s options threw me a bit of a curveball. Why? Well, most of the options are actually incredibly appealing in 2019.

Past years have given us corn dog-flavored beer with a mustard rim garnish and a Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger, but this year’s options skew more in the direction of ‘intriguing’ as opposed to ‘weird for weirdness’ sake’. Obviously, there are a few exceptions, and one of them unsurprisingly involves a pickle. Seriously, it has me triggered in the same fashion that ‘Horns Down’ triggers Sam Ehlinger. Just talking about it has me all sorts of hot and bothered.

It’s another 11 a.m. game this season, so filter through your culinary options accordingly. You might be afflicted with the “Red River Flu”, in which case something fried and fatty should be the call. However, if you called it an early Friday night, there is no shortage of brunch options fit for a trust-fund hipster.

I, without fail, will end up going to town on The Fletcher’s Corny Dog — the most reliable State Fair of Texas staple — and wash it (or them) down with overpriced Dixie Cups full of watered-down domestic beer. These things are a given, but the below options are uncharted territory.

CAJUN CRAB BOMBS

 Credit: State Fair of Texas

Two iconic flavors of the Gulf: crab and shrimp, are combined with a Cajun twist to make our mouth-watering “Cajun Crab Bombs”! First, we take jumbo lump and backfin crab meat and mix in just enough egg, panko, and seasoning to form our signature “Crab Bombs”! Next, we insert a jumbo shrimp into each bomb, with the tail sticking out as “The Fuse”! The Crab Bombs are then dusted lightly with fish fry and Cajun seasoning before fried golden brown. Served with Remoulade Sauce.

Absolutely nothing about this is unappealing. Additionally, the photo suggests that the order comes with a side of hush puppies, and I’m always going to be down with that. As someone who has recently hopped off the Keto train, I’m ready to go back to living my best life and will 100 percent be devouring this basket if I’m not too lazy to look for it.

Appeal Grade: A

DEEP FRIED ENERGY BITES

 Credit: State Fair of Texas

A protein-packed energy bite, fried in a sweet rolled oat batter, graciously drizzled with an espresso chocolate glaze, and served on a bed of fried coconut shreds. These nutritious bites of goodness are the perfect blend of peanut butter, chocolate, honey, oats, and coconut. Indulge in a sweet snack without the regret!

I’m gonna go ahead and call BS on the “without the regret” part. I mean, if you’re out there embracing the fair experience (as you should be) and kicking dieting to the curb, these seem promising. Having said that, let’s not bother masquerading deep fried balls smothered in chocolate and powdered sugar as some sort of health food snack. Actually, scratch that — I’m a noted rationalizer of questionable food decisions, so let’s just roll with it.

At any rate, this is A. probably pretty tasty and B. probably not quite rich to the point that it would be a horrible mix with beer (but it’s cutting close). If someone else orders it and offers me a bite, I’ll accept without much resistance.

This actually might be a good post-game snack if you’re feeling lethargic. (Note: You will absolutely, positively be feeling lethargic)

Appeal Grade: B-

DEEP FRIED CHICKEN CORDON BLEU STUFFED WAFFLES

We take perfectly deep fried fresh breaded chicken cutlets stuffed with Prosciutto di Parma (Italian Ham), add melty swiss cheese baked seamlessly inside an original Belgian “Liege” Waffle (made from dough, not batter) and infuse with authentic European pearl sugar. Each “Deep Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu Stuffed Waffle” will be generously dusted with a sweet and savory seasoning and served with a drizzle/dipping sauce like you have never tasted before. It is spicy made syrup chipotle kicker sauce that will blow your mind!

Okay, so there’s a bit to unpack here. I love waffles. I dig Chicken Cordon Bleu. I appreciate the sweet-and-savory combination of chicken and waffles. Having said that, the cumulative combination just doesn’t quite hit the mark. The taste could perhaps resemble that of a Monte Christo (depending on the Monte Christo), which can be good if it’s already 2 a.m. and you don’t have sh** to do. But at 8-9 a.m.? You may end up watching the game on your phone in the bathroom stall, which would be no bueno.

Appeal Grade: C-

DEEP FRIED NUTELLA CUSTARD STUFFED FRENCH TOAST

Deep Fried Nutella Custard Stuffed French Toast is a sweet French Toast sandwich filled with the ever popular Nutella®, homemade vanilla custard, and sweet smoked crumbled bacon between two pieces of French Toast. This amazing blend of flavors is then coated with a ground blend of many popular breakfast cereals and deep-fried to perfection. Crunch on the outside, soft and sweet flavors on the inside! Topped with stiff, handmade whipped cream, and a strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, lemonade puree.

This sounds like a brunch item that dreams are made of. Nutella is superior to every other spread in literally every situation, but then you’re adding bacon to the equation? Mercy, mercy, mercy. The icing on the cake is the use of breakfast cereals as batter. If you’ve ever had the Wonderboy at Diamond Dawgs, you know for a fact that this works magnificently. If you don’t plan on drinking a ton of beer, this would be a phenomenal meal for breakfast. If you’re getting after it with the suds, steal a bite of someone else’s.

Appeal Grade: A-

DEEP FRIED POTATO SALAD

Deep fried comfort food in a bite! Potatoes, sweet relish, eggs, and onions are diced, mashed, then rolled together into a ball, tossed in Pearlie’s house seasonings, and deep fried to perfection. Yum!

This sounds pretty decent in theory, but I’m just not sure I can trust it.

Appeal Grade: C+

CHAMPAGNE JELLO HOT SHOT

Great Texas favorites come together in an explosion of flavors. Tongue tingling Champagne, crisp Chablis, and cool, sweet as-candy Watermelon Jello with spicy slices of jalapenos make this a memorable adult treat. Served in a 3.25 oz portion cup for your enjoyment.

Champagne Jello shots taste fine, but they don’t exactly do the job unless there’s additional booze in the mixture. The jalapeño slice seems a tad gimmicky. I’m not wasting any tickets on it.

Appeal Grade: C

CHICKS IN A CONE

Piping hot, extra crispy, mouth-watering fried popcorn chicken, perfectly seasoned with Cajun goodness and tossed into a scrumptious waffle cone then drizzled with your choice of a house sweet sauce or Mama’s hot sauce!

This doesn’t necessarily jump off the page, but there’s zero chance of it being subpar. Having the choice or sweet or buffalo is a nice touch, too. No complaints here.

Appeal Grade: B+

CHUCO’S CHURRO’S

There’s a churro for everyone! Whether you like a filled churro, a churro split, a churro sundae, or just the classic churro, Chuco’s Churreria has you covered.

There is, indeed, a churro for everyone. Let us rejoice and be glad.

Appeal Grade: B+

COTTON CANDY BURRITO

From the creators of the Cotton Candy Taco comes a new twist on a Tex-Mex favorite! The Cotton Candy Burrito comes in two flavors: Lavender Bean Cheesecake and Chocolate Caramel. Lavender bean ice cream is wrapped in cheesecake flavored cotton candy and topped with sprinkles. Caramel Sea Salt Ice Cream is wrapped in chocolate flavored cotton candy and topped with sprinkles.

Okay, so both of these ice cream flavors sound scrumtrulescent, but cotton candy is just the biggest deal-breaker in all of food-dom.

Appeal Grade: F

FRIED SOUTHERN BOURBON BREAD PUDDING

 Credit: State Fair of Texas

Mama’s bread-pudding with a Southern New Orleans flare! The pudding is soaked in milk, bourbon, brown sugar, and spices for a burst of delicious flavors. Each bread pudding ball is hand-breaded with breadcrumbs and flash fried so that each bite is custardy, crispy, and crunchy. Each dish is served with a side of sweet bourbon graze for dipping and it’ll have you wanting to take another bite.

Bread pudding is difficult to screw up and is probably phenomenal in deep-fried form. If you’re on the dessert train, this one surely slaps.

Appeal Grade: A-

FRY RUB & RYE

This refreshing libation begins with wine-based whiskey, egg whites, lemon juice, and maple syrup, which together are shaken vigorously, creating a rich velvety mixture. It’s then poured into a (plastic) glass which has a smoky mesquite BBQ rub dusted rim, and then adding a light, mango infused craft beer. This thirst quencher is then “dressed” with a skewer that has a fried pickle wedge, onion ring, and a stuffed jalapeno popper to complete your BBQ beverage experience.

Here’s another one with a lot to unpack. I’ll go to town on a craft cocktail from time to time, which I guess is what they’re trying to go for here. Egg whites are good for texture, but I can’t really imagine how the whole concoction will taste because I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a wine-based whiskey. BBQ rub on the rim of the glass is the type of weird I can get behind, and the fried food is a nice touch in spite of the fact that fried pickles should never be in spear form. I might actually have to f*** with this if it doesn’t cost 40 tickets.

Appeal Grade: B+

GOOD OLE CREOLE BOUDIN EGG ROLL WITH PEPPER JACK CHEESE

The East says Howdy to the West in a “Good Ole Creole Boudin Egg Roll w/ Pepper Jack Cheese”. The traditional savory seasoned rice has been fused with the ooey, gooey goodness of Pepper Jack Cheese! All rolled in a flaky, crispy wonton wrapper. Deep fried to a golden brown, and ready for a splash of sweet chili paste dipping sauce.

If you’re an Oklahoman who has never tried boudin, you need to change that. South Louisiana is a land of many fine culinary delights, but there’s none finer than this rice/pork mixture that is typically either stuffed in pork casing or fried into balls. I’ve never had it in egg roll form, but I’m down.

My only apprehension revolves around the involvement of pepper jack. While it’s a perfectly good cheese, I’m not too sure about mixing any kind of cheese with boudin. I’ll keep an open mind with this one.

Appeal Grade: A

LOADED BAKED POTATO FUNNEL CAKE

 Credit: State Fair of Texas

A new twist on a fair favorite, this funnel cake is dressed to look and taste like a “loaded with all the goodies” baked potato.

Nope, this is just stupid.

Appeal Grade: F

NUTTY BAR-BAR

Customize your classic Nutty Bar with a variety of toppings to choose from, such as colored sprinkles, toasted coconut, Butterfingers, or Rice Krispies. Of course, there’s still the original nutty bar with peanuts!

Little Debbie is responsible for many a delightful product, and the Nutty Bar is no exception. Giving me the option to customize it with Butterfingers is just going to give me *Wilford Brimley voice* Diabeetus, but it might be a fair trade-off.

Appeal Grade: B+

PB & J BACON PICKLE DOG

 Credit: State Fair of Texas

We slice a large crispy, crunchy dill pickle then roll it in a special batter and deep fry. It is served on a hot-dog style sweet Hawaiian Bun drizzled with peanut butter and topped with bacon jam.

Kill this thing or send it to Guantanamo Bay. It needs to be out of sight and out of mind.

Appeal Grade: F, and I’d give it a G or an H if the grades existed.

PEARLIE’S PARFAITS

Pearlie’s renowned parfaits! Cream pudding layered over a honey graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream. Flavors available in Death by Chocolate, Lemon Sunshine, Strawberry Fields, and Totally Nana’ Sweet Banana Pudding.

I’m sure these are fine, but I’m not a big parfait guy.

Appeal Grade: C

STUFFED TURKEY LEG

Smokey John’s smoked turkey leg topped with dirty rice, a tasty Cajun cream sauce, grilled shrimp, and finished with a sprinkling of parmesan.

This thing might just make you give the “Coach O Face”

Appeal Grade: A+

THE “AIN’T NO LIE IT’S FRIED” STEAK

The State Fair gets a true steak house experience with a Texas steak worthy of Big Tex. A 14oz Strip Steak is slowly tenderized for 5 hours before hitting the fryer to get the inside and the outside of your steak perfect. Order your steak to your likeness (rare to well done and all points in between). We have set our timers and our fryer temp precisely to get your steak PERFECT. We fry our steaks in beef tallow to get that extra added flavor and crispy char. Our steak will be cut for you and placed on a pile of garlic fries that also get crisped up in our steak fryer. A side of our house recipe chimichurri sauce completes your Texas feast!

Frying a steak in beef tallow just seems like a wonderful idea. Give it to me medium-rare and I’ll wreck it.

Appeal Grade: A

Contributor Survey

Kamiar Mehrabian

Favorite: The Nutty-Bar Bar. It sounds amazing. It looks amazing. It combines the classic Nutty Bar with so many more of my favorite candies that is 100% worth my time.

Least Favorite: If you’re a fan of the PB & J Bacon Pickle Dog, I want to vomit at you. There are too many flavors going on there and most of them, not good (other than the PB&J).

Most Intriguing: 100% Cajun Crab Bombs. This was almost my favorite, but I need to try it first before I actually accept it. Regardless it has my attention and I need to spend my money on it RIGHT NOW.

Seth Oliveras

Favorite: Deep Fried Nutella Custard Stuffed French Toast. Nutella might be the greatest delicacy ever created, so that alone makes this a slam dunk. Meanwhile the French toast topped with bacon and a strawberry puree make it a must-try.

Least Favorite: PB&J Bacon Pickle Dog. I’m a fan of peanut butter and jelly, but I’ve never, ever been a pickle person. It’s not right to substitute a dog for a pickle. It just ain’t right.

Most Intriguing: Chicks in a Cone. Chicken & waffles is a normal combination, but this puts a unique spin on the classic. If the Cajun seasoning is choice, I’ll have two.

Allen Kenney

Favorite: THE “AIN’T NO LIE IT’S FRIED” STEAK. There are plenty of great steakhouses around Dallas, but how many of them are frying their cuts in beef tallow? The side of garlic fries makes for the perfect complement to a medium rare strip.

Least Favorite: DEEP FRIED CHICKEN CORDON BLEU STUFFED WAFFLES. Good luck making it inside the Cotton Bowl if this is your pregame snack.

Most Intriguing: DEEP FRIED NUTELLA CUSTARD STUFFED FRENCH TOAST. An 11 a.m. kickoff time deserves a brunch-ish dish. I’m in for anything that combines Nutella and bacon.

Kartik Rajendran

Favorite: Probably no better way I could think of to shake off the Friday night rust than a Deep Fried Energy Bite. In the face of my mild peanut allergy, I’d be willing to take a chance. If I’m not feeling daring enough, I’d settle for a helping of the Deep Fried Nutella Custard Stuffed French Toast. And proceed to take a nap through the game. I think I just got Diabetes typing this.

Least Favorite: On the other side of the spectrum lie some particularly troubling choices that inspire indigestion upon reading. One such item that stood out was the Fry Rub & Rye. Nothing makes me feel more confident that I will not be watching OU/Texas from the toilet than consuming a drink containing whiskey, egg whites, an onion ring and a jalapeno popper the day after the West End.

Most Intriguing: The Cotton Candy Burrito. This sounds like the most pleasant diabetic coma, ever. Lavender Bean Cheesecake, Chocolate Caramel, Caramel Sea Salt Ice Cream with cotton candy… yes, a sweet, sweet death, indeed. Boomer Sooner.

Austin Brown

Favorite: The “Ain’t No Lie It’s Fried” Steak. FOURTEEN ounces of steak. Challenge gladly accepted.

Least Favorite: PB&J Bacon Pickle Dog. This idea had to have come from an 8-year-old who won a “design your own fair food” contest at school. Pickles and peanut butter…hard pass.

Most Intriguing: Deep Fried Energy Bites. Not going to lie, my first thought when I saw the name was that they found a way to fry Red Bull. Nevertheless, this could be a game-changer for pushing through that mid-day lull.

Source: Crimson and Cream Machine