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San Diego County Fair: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

June 5, 2011

I look forward to the San Diego County Fair media party each year. It’s a chance to see some former coworkers, catch up and— of course— to sample the food. The problem with the media party— which is open to all people associated with the media in either radio, television, online or print— is that the menus are limited. Fortunately, everything is served in manageable samples.

Ectomobile

Steampunk automobile

Racing turkeys

This year’s theme is Race to the Fair with an emphasis on cars and racing. On display are cars (including the Ectomobile from “Ghostbusters”), mini remote controlled cars and turkeys that race. Yes, I know the last one is a bit of stretch but maybe the losing turkey is smoked?

Deep fried stuff

While no losing turkeys were consumed during this party, what was available is mostly deep fried. There are usual offenders: french fries, zucchini strips, onion rings. And the ones are more commonplace, especially at fairs: Twinkies, frogs legs, avocados, frozen Klondike bars and butter (all seen last year).

This year, the newest offering is the deep-fried Kool-Aid. Yes, Kool-Aid.

DSC_0483

Deep fried brownie and Kool Aid

Deep fried Kool Aid

Deep fried brownie

I saw this trend toward deep frying drinks a few years ago at the Orange County Fair with deep-fried Coke. It’s a bit of a stretch to call it a deep-fried drink when in reality it’s really just beverage-flavored dough. Same thing with the Kool-Aid. Strawberry-flavored Kool-Aid to be exact.

It’s an interesting take on the concept by Chicken Charlie’s but not fully evolved. I detected undissolved Kool-Aid granules in some bites of their fluorescent pink donut hole-sized portions. Chicken Charlie’s also had a deep-fried brownie which is a hit or miss depending on who you talked to. The Chicken Charlie’s stand appears to be the king of deep-fried dishes; their menu also includes Girl Scout cookies, pb&j sandwiches and White Castle burgers— yes, all fried.

Corn on the cob servers

Deep fried corn on the cob

At the party, an unknown vendor was walking around and pushing “cornacopia” to attendees. What looks like a biscuit on a stick is in actuality a corn on the cob portion battered and deep fried. The batter was halfway cooked and the accompanying spicy honey sauce didn’t help the dish. My opinion: stick with the grilled corn-in-the-husk served near the entrance.

Chocolate covered corn dog

Another miss is the chocolate-covered corn dog, pushed again by some unknown vendor. (I’m beginning to think that these vendors like to be unknown in case of failed food experiments.) I like to try a little bit of everything but I passed on this completely. The combination of hot chocolate sauce and sprinkles covering a corn dog failed to entice a taste from me.

Gingerbread Shop

Eton Mess

One item that was a hit in both concept AND taste is the Eton Mess Pudding by the Gingerbread Shop. I usually pass on this place— the gingerbread house theme always seems out of place especially at the start of summer— but it was their sign about this dessert being served at Kate and William’s wedding that drew me (and others) in. Their Eton Mess pudding is macerated strawberries and raspberry puree with vanilla ice cream, meringue bits and whipped cream, served in a dainty plastic champagne glass. The different textures was a nice touch and I’m sure even the burliest of men might enjoy this without having to extend a pinky finger.

Ice cream stuff

Truck rides

I saw they had rides at this year’s party, which seemed like a big gamble considering all the, um, “food” options. Based on personal experiences, be sure to stay away if you have a full stomach or just after consuming deep-fried chocolate-covered bacon butter (or whatever).

Race to the Fair

The San Diego County Fair will be open to the general public on June 10 and running until July 4 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

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Read last year’s post here.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2011 11:48 AM

    Deep fried corn on the cob sounds like a bad idea and chocolate covered corndogs sound awful. No samples of deep fried chocolate covered bacon?

    I always get excited about the weird new foods at the fair every year, but I always end up with just a grilled ear of corn and a tri tip sandwich.

    • June 6, 2011 7:15 AM

      Yes! They were all very bad ideas. I think I would stay away from the deep fried chocolate covered bacon although I love a good piece of bacon. Can’t go wrong with plain old grilled corn.

  2. June 5, 2011 12:46 PM

    That Kool Aid thing just sounds awful. And why wreck a corn dog with chocolate?

    • June 6, 2011 7:15 AM

      The Kool Aid wasn’t that bad although there was room for improvement.

  3. June 5, 2011 1:49 PM

    I tried the chocolate corn dog, just to say I did. A few of my friends/coworkers said “it’s actually kinda good!” but I had to disagree. It was just too confusing for your taste buds. I took one bite and handed the rest to my husband (I was pretty surprised that he thought it was OK – we’re usually in agreement on that stuff). The Kool-Aid I tried didn’t have any undissolved granules, and it seemed like it almost could work with a little improvement, because it was basically a cupcake/doughnut hybrid that just happened to be strawberry Kool Aid flavored.

    • June 6, 2011 7:17 AM

      My husband thought the corn dog was okay too but the smell of hot dog, oil and chocolate was a bit too overwhelming for me. Plus, who thought sprinkles on top of the whole thing was a good idea?!?!

  4. June 5, 2011 5:55 PM

    Nice preview of the fair Darlene! :) My husband thinks the deep fried Kool Aid sounds good! Men…
    Same thing with the chocolate covered corn dog. Ugh.

    • June 6, 2011 7:18 AM

      I think the line is divided now between the sexes re: chocolate covered corn dog. Men = yeah! Women – meh

  5. June 5, 2011 8:21 PM

    I love the Del Mar Fair. What terrific pictures. I was just telling my kids that my first job was at the Fish ‘n Chip stand at the fair- not such fond memories there. however, the cinnamon rolls from one of the vendors are still the best in town. My dad buys them and freezes them until Christmas morning. Delicious!

    • June 6, 2011 7:19 AM

      Thanks!

      I did see the cinnamon roll stand but was too full to try any. In addition, they sell frozen rolls to have at home. I wonder if that’s that the same stand you’re referring to.

  6. June 5, 2011 9:38 PM

    I can’t wait for the fair, but uh, I’ll probably skip the new fandangled treats. I also made fried PB&J sandwiches before and the ones I made were pretty good… so maybe I would try those at the fair, too. Nice recap!

    • June 6, 2011 7:20 AM

      I would try the PB&J sandwiches too. Looking forward to your thoughts on it.

  7. June 12, 2011 2:31 PM

    Nice synopsis. Good you could go, see and try things before the crowds. I know I’d spend more money if they offered sample sizes every day than only on Tuesdays.

    • June 14, 2011 4:10 PM

      I’m considering going back, barred any major crowds, to have their Eton Mess again. Delicious. Hope you have a chance to try it.

  8. June 14, 2011 11:13 AM

    Great pictures. I had a chance to go to the fair this weekend. I had the fried kool-aid, it was ok. Not something to write home about. I was overwhelmed by how much food choices there.

    • June 14, 2011 4:11 PM

      Thanks, Jennifer! Unfortunately, all the food choices seem to look the same after a while and one common denominator — fried!

      • June 14, 2011 4:18 PM

        Noooo- cream puffs, hummus with pita, cesar salad, baked potato, roasted corn, smoked turkey legs…. Plus the Albertson’s booth (right around the corner from Chicken Charlie’s) has all sorts of healthy goodies.

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