Aug 16, 2021 - News
Iowa State Fair food 2021: We tasted the good and the wacky
A photo of a hand holding up a paper tray of two loaded crab bites drizzled in cheese and sour cream.
Loaded crab bites from the fair. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

I've been going to the Iowa State Fair since I was in diapers, and yet the cuisines there never cease to surprise me.

  • From delicious to daring to downright dastardly, fair foods prove once again that they are the true crown winners.

Below are a smattering of thoughts on the menu items that piqued my interest:

Loaded Crab Bites — $8

Our take: Crab cakes can get soggy, but these delectable bites have a crisp breading to them that's satisfying to bite through.

  • The crab meat filling has a mildly sweet seafood taste that's accentuated through the salty bacon bits on top. Cheese and sour cream are musts.

Where you can find it: PO-Boy off Rock Island Ave.

Flamin' Hot Cheeto Funnel Cake — $10
flamin' hot cheeto funnel cake
When will Flamin' Hot Cheetos go too far? Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Our take: This is the eyebrow-raising weird food that challenges your palette.

  • On first bite, the taste was most similar to a walking taco — mild spice, lots of nacho cheese sauce and a few jalapeños on top.
  • Not bad, but I'll stick with a sweet rather than savory funnel cake.

Where you can find it: The Best Around Funnel Cake off Grand Ave.

Tennessee Twinkies — $10
Tennessee Twinkies
Tennessee Twinkies from Chicken City. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Our take: This will satisfy your salty, savory craving without pushing you over the edge.

  • What makes this dish over the top without needing a gimmick (other than the name) are the ingredients used: jalapeños stuffed with smoked chicken, cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and drizzled with barbecue sauce.
  • But for $10 — don't expect it to fill you up.

Where you can find it: Chicken City outside the Susan Knapp Amphitheater.

Bacon Mac Dog — $6
bacon mac dog
A hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese and bacon bits. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Our take: Very reminiscent of my childhood Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with cut-up hot dogs, but messier.

  • The hot dog was great. The mac and cheese, not so much.

Where to find it: Stockman's Inn off Rock Island Ave.

Peanut Butter and Fluff Cookie Dough — $6
Chocolate dipped peanut butter cookie dough
The inside of a Peanut Butter and Fluff Cookie Dough dessert. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Our take: The satisfying crunch of the chocolate shell, combined with salty peanut butter and frozen cookie dough makes this a winner.

  • I'm a sugar fiend, but this dessert is so rich you'll need to share with a couple of friends — or risk a stomachache.

Where to find it: Dipped in Chocolate outside the Livestock Pavilion.

Chicken Egg Salad with Indian Fry Bread — $8
Chicken salad in indian fry bread
Chicken Egg Salad with Indian Fry Bread. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Our take: If you're needing a fresh retreat from heavy fair food, this chicken egg salad does the trick, while also filling you up.

  • The slightly sweet salad has a nice crunch to it, thanks to the cabbage slaw and crisp celery.
  • Serving it on a fried flatbread adds a twist to the Midwest summer classic. Solid new food.

Where to find it: Cluckin' Coop near the Midway entrance.


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