Piggy popcorn, bacon smores among new treats to try at the fair

explore_fairtreats.jpgDining at the Indiana State Fair (through Aug. 19) often means returning to the tried and true. After all, who among us would turn down an ear of corn dripping with butter or a Ben’s soft pretzel?

But some of the fair’s vendors also venture into new or new-ish territory, whether simply for novelty or to actually try to find a new way to satisfy the hunger of Hoosiers. Here’s a rundown of some of this year’s first-timers.

The Waybetter Strawberry Milkshake
Polar Bear Ice Cream
The milkshake itself is just fine, especially when you get a taste that includes actual strawberries. But tarting it up with Fruity Pebbles and generic sponge cake and claiming the unadorned tumbler it comes in is a “souvenir cup” is outrageous, even for the fair. $15

BBQ Pork Potachoes
Indiana Pork Producers Association
Chopped roasted potatoes, cheese, sliced jalapenos and shredded pork coated in Shoup’s barbecue sauce make for this nacho variant. Sour cream gives the heat a cool cutting, but best to keep it on the side so you can regulate to taste the heat generated by this satisfying spud-anchored appetizer. $7

Deep Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich
Urick Concessions
This one could have used chicken with a bit more flavor. And beware the syrup drip and the structural unsoundness of the waffle or you might end up with more poultry on your shirt than in your mouth. $7

Inside Out Grilled Cheese with Birthday Cake Shake
American Dairy Association of Indiana Inc.
It’s a bit disappointing when the Dairy Barn’s staff hands you what looks like a standard shake and a little plastic cup of sprinkles to DIY the topping. Still, the shake does its job. And the grilled cheese—mild cheddar on the outside and gouda inside the sourdough bread—is a hearty bargain. Each $3.50

Wood Fire Pizza
Pele’s Fire Pizza LLC
Even with a nice wood-fired crust, this first-timer at the fair might have trouble competing with more traditional offerings—and customer realization that they can get a good pizza elsewhere any other day, for less money; each portion is only a quarter of a small pie. $5 cheese or pepperoni, $6 meat lovers

Deep Fried Sugar Cream Pie
Urick Concessions
It was just a matter of time before the signature Indiana pie got the deep-fried treatment. For those who are fans of the original, this one is likely to seem like gilding the lily. For those who don’t like sugar cream pie: First, shame on you. Second, the funnel cake batter, powdered sugar and chocolate sauce could be seen as an improvement. An OK novelty, but straight is the way to go when it comes to this classic. $7

Hatch Green Chili Beef Meatballs
Indiana Beef Cattle Association
Spicy Southwestern peppers mix with the local meat in an unattractive but appetizing set of a half dozen orbs. Beware: The kick isn’t consistent from ball to ball. $5

Bison Rangoon
Red Fraizer Bison
The bison loses a battle with the cream cheese that dominates this fried encasing of the aforementioned duo with charred sweet corn puree. $5

Bacon Smores on a Stick
Bubba’s Bacon
Surely there was bacon somewhere up the middle of this chocolate-covered, fluff-slathered, graham-cracker-crumb-rolled slab. Its taste just didn’t find its way through the sweetness. $5

Piggy Popcorn with Sweet Yum Yum Sauce
Yum Yum, indeed. Here, pork loin is seasoned, immersed in the ubiquitous deep fryer, cut into one- or two-bite pieces, and slathered with Goodwin’s Sweet Hawaiian Chili Sauce (which includes molasses, paprika and MSG). The result is a batch of irregularly shaped treats that could cause fights if not divided evenly in your group. $7

IBJ photos/Eric Learned

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