Aug 21, 2022 - Economy & Business

We tried some of America's most heart-stopping state fair treats

Photos: Monica Eng/Axios; courtesy of the Iowa State Fair; Audrey Kennedy/Axios

With summer coming to a close, much of America is in the thick of state fair season — gatherings that celebrate our roots and filling our stomachs with horrifying-yet-delicious things we wouldn't eat anywhere else.

Why it matters: Going viral with an unexpected pairing of flavors or the wackiest combo of carbs can actually mean huge business for vendors.

We asked our Axios Local colleagues from around the Midwest to tell us about their favorite fair treat that, ideally, also made their arteries close up a little bit.

Illinois State Fair: Walking Deep-Fried Horseshoe
Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Down in Springfield, nine bucks will get you the portable version of the city's signature dish: ground beef or chicken, crispy fries and house beer cheese sauce all get wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep-fried with a final flourish of ... more cheese sauce.

  • It's served at the Motorheads Bar & Grill booth, but don't try to find it at their restaurant — it's a fair special.
  • Our thought bubble, via Axios Chicago's Monica Eng: This took our state capital's beloved specialty and ingeniously (maybe insidiously?) transformed it into a deep-fried portable snack. It may take me weeks to recover from this reporting.
Iowa State Fair: The Finisher
Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

If you head to Des Moines, you can find "The Finisher," a russet potato covered in chopped brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, barbecue sauce, sour cream and garlic butter — all for $10.

  • This big dish won the 2022 Iowa State Fair People's Choice award for best new food.
  • Our thought bubble, via Axios Des Moines' Jason Clayworth: Delicious but also a carb carnival. I felt like I needed a nap after I wolfed it down.
Minnesota State Fair: "I-Scream" Wrap
Photo: Audrey Kennedy/Axios

At this point, you're probably looking for dessert, so head to St. Paul to gaze upon this beauty: an ice cream sandwich on top of a waffle, drizzled with chocolate and topped with kettle corn.

  • This won't surprise you after just a glance at the picture: it's outrageous and delicious, but very hard to eat.
  • Our thought bubble, via Axios Twin Cities' Audrey Kennedy: No joke, my friend and I didn't eat for two days after.

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