10/12/11 — Explore some history by looking at fair treats

View Archive

Explore some history by looking at fair treats

By Heidi Cox
Published in News on October 12, 2011 1:46 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Wayne County Fair might be over, but with the state fair beginning this week, people's minds are still turning to treats like funnel cakes and fried Twinkies. Spring Creek High School food students researched and wrote this article in honor of Wayne County's fair week.

When asked what is so special about the county fair, Spring Creek High School senior Stacie Carlton said, "There is no food like fair food." When you hear the word fair, the first thought that comes to mind is fried food.

However, fried food wasn't part of the original menu of the fair until the late 1950s.

First on the list is the funnel cake, which is originally linked to Germany, where German immigrants would serve it at festivals and holiday celebrations. Some say the funnel cake is a descendant of the Dutch word olieball, literally meaning "oil ball." Some say the funnel cake is the doughnut's "more appetizing sister" with elephant ears being its "uncle."

Next on the list is the corn dog, which was popularized by the brothers Neil and Carl Fletcher of Dallas, Texas. The Fletchers introduced the "corny dog" in 1942 at the Texas State Fair. However, Oregon argues that the corn dog, which they called "pronto pups," was invented at a lumber camp in 1941.

Samuel Bert introduced snow cones in 1919 at the Texas State Fair using a type of tool to shave the ice off the ice block, and a year later invented an ice crushing machine for the popular treat.

In order to improve the treat, New Orleans native Ernest Hanson created the first ice-shaving machine in 1934. The machine made the ice into a snow-like flake, which compared to Samuel's creation, was softer and held the flavoring syrup better.

Cotton candy, originally known as "fairy floss," was introduced in 1904 at the World's Fair in St. Louis, by William Morrison and John C. Wharton of Nashville, Tenn. The pair also created the first patented electric machine for spinning sugar into threads in 1899. The name "fairy floss" wasn't changed to cotton candy until the 1920s.

Last, but not least, is the caramel apple, which attracted people to the fact that the apple is sour, but the coating is sweet. The caramel apple as we know it today wasn't invented until the 1950s when Dan Walker, a sales representative of Kraft, came up with the idea of printing caramel apple recipes on the bags of the company's caramels.

The candy apple recipes date back to the 1700s, but they weren't marketed until the late 1800s.

As fair food became a bigger franchise, so did the trend for frying food. People began frying food that no one could even imagine could be fried.

For example, some vendors have deep fried Kool-Aid, sodas, beer and butter. It does not stop there. Some fair vendors also take sweets to the next level by offering deep fried pie, Oreos and bubblegum.

Whether you're a fan of fried food or sweets, the fair has a variety of food that will make your mouth water.

Try this recipe in honor of the county and state fairs:


2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

1 cup pancake mix (any brand)

1 large egg 10 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies

2 teaspoon vegetable oil

10 peanut-butter filled chocolate sandwich cookies

1 cup fat free half and half

10 vanilla-filled chocolate sandwich cookies

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

powdered sugar (for decorating)

Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees.

Whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla flavoring and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the pancake mix until no dry lumps remain.

Dip the cookies into the batter one at a time, and carefully place into the hot frying oil. Fry only 4 or 5 at a time to avoid overcrowding the deep fryer. Cook until the cookies are golden-brown, about 2 minutes.

Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 30.

Heidi Cox is an advanced food studies student at Spring Creek High School.