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Since the first official state fair in 1841, Americans have flocked to fairgrounds every summer to see livestock competitions, play carnival games, go on rides, and, of course, eat!

But fair food is not necessarily good fare for the health-conscious.

Although state fairs may celebrate the best of local agriculture, sometimes it’s awfully hard to walk right past the smells of cotton candy, corn dogs and funnel cakes to concentrate on the produce.

And one of the most alarming trends in fair food seems to be the most extreme: deep-fried food on a stick.

Topping the list are those deep-fried candy bars. Gooey candy bars (Snickers are a favorite) skewered on sturdy sticks, dipped in a sweet cakey batter, fried in hot vegetable oil, and then given an extra dusting of powdered sugar for good measure. For those fairgoers looking beyond chocolate and caramel, there’s a popular variation: batter-dipped, deep-fried Twinkies on a stick.

Another bizarre concoction, fried Coke, debuted at the State Fair of Texas just a few years back. This all-American treat almost defies description. It’s a Coca Cola-flavored batter that’s deep-fried like a funnel cake, then drizzled with Coke syrup and topped with whipped cream, cinnamon, sugar, and a maraschino cherry.

Deep-fried corn dogs on a stick continue to be a perennial favorite, but there’s a new seafood competitor making an appearance at some state fairs: a tube of spiced crab meat rolled in pastry dough, skewered with a strong stick, then deep-fried.

While it’s true that just one day of state fair food won’t cause serious harm to you and your heart, chowing down on these foods just isn’t worth it. Because they are so loaded with fat, calories, sugar and salt and lacking any real nutritional value it’s probably best to just stay away.

Top 10 State Fair Foods to Avoid:

1. Fried Snickers Bars and other fried candy bars (batter-dipped, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar)

2. Fried Twinkies (batter-dipped and deep-fried)

3. “Australian Potatoes” (batter-dipped, deep-fried potatoes topped with cheese and a creamy ranch sauce)

4. Foot long corn dogs

5. “Bloomin’ Onions”(batter-dipped, deep-fried onions)

6. Giant Funnel Cakes (often topped with chocolate and whipped cream)

7. Batter-fried corn on the cob

8. Greasy fries (sometimes topped with cheese and gravy, too!)

9. Gigantic sodas (32-ounces and even larger)

10. Cotton candy

 

Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to get healthy foods at your state fair. Many of the concessions stands are now trying to cater to a more health-conscious crowd.

Top 10 Guilt-Free State Fair Foods: 

1. Whole-wheat pitas stuffed with fresh veggies

2. Potatoes topped with steamed veggies

3. Tacos with beans, wild rice and exotic salsas

4. Crepes with fresh fruits

5. Smoothies made with fresh fruit and non-fat yogurt

6. Jamaican veggie patties

7. Falafel

8. Buffalo veggie burgers

9. Grilled corn on the cob

10. Chocolate-dipped bananas or caramel apples

 

These guilt-free alternatives are plenty tasty. So if you are checking out your state this summer, don’t be tempted by those deep-fried candy bars and foot-long corn dogs!

(PS A food safety tip! Always make sure you see a license posted in the window of the concession stand before you buy any food. That’s a sign the vendor uses hygienic preparation methods that will help protect you and your family against food-borne illnesses.)

 

Adapted from www.meatlessmonday.com

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