Jul 15, 2022 - Food and Drink

How a new Minnesota State Fair food is made

Illustration of stripes and dots forming a dollar bill shape, with a corndog in the middle.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Many of the 38 new food items at the State Fair this year weren't just dreamed up overnight: they're months or even years in the making.

The big picture: Creating a concoction for the state’s biggest event of the year is a lengthy process, but getting on the Minnesota State Fair’s new foods list is some of the best exposure a vendor can get.

  • “Every year, you roll the dice. You never know how people will react, but when you win, it’s worth it,” Blue Moon Dine-In Theater owner Mike Olson told Axios.

Zoom in: Olson's new chili dog sliders with accompanying prickly-pear slushies, inspired by a trip to New Mexico, are the result of months of tinkering and hundreds of taste tests.

What they do: With limited kitchen space and enormous demand, pre-making items or ingredients is almost always required, no matter the vendor.

  • While most of their returning foods are made on-site, restaurants like Hot Indian make their new Indian-style ice cream Kulfi in advance, chef Janene Holig told Axios.
  • Quantities are a guessing game, but she’s expecting about 300-500 orders per flavor, per day.
  • Olson, meanwhile, is preparing hundreds of gallons of his red and green chili in advance, gearing up in hopes of selling around 5,000 of each new item.

Yes, but: It’s an expensive ordeal, and some chefs didn’t have months to prepare. Co-owner of first-time vendor Herbivorous Butcher's Kale Walch just got the call notifying him that the vegan brand was accepted last week. He estimated the signage and equipment alone was about $35,000.

  • “It’s intense, but we’ve had a stand at Coachella. After that, I think we can handle anything,” he said.

Where it stands: After 2020's cancellation and low turnout in 2021, it’s hard to know how many people will attend the Great Minnesota Get-Together this summer. But vendors say uncertainty is part of the job.

  • “We think we have two great products, but we’ve been doing it long enough to know there are so many factors that play into the success,” Olson said. “It's all part of the gamble."
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