A fair is a veritable smorgasbord-orgasbord-orgasbord.

-Goose, Charlotte’s Web

Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar

Sweet Martha_s MN State Fair3_preview

You seldom get to consume an entire bucket of something. There’s occasional movie popcorn, fried chicken, and Miller Lite, of course, but nothing in a bucket tastes quite so good as chocolate chip cookies do. That’s why Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar deserves its rank as the Minnesota State Fair’s most popular food — they bake 2,000 cookies every minute just to keep up with demand! Everyone at the fair carries around a bucket of Martha’s cookies. I’ve seen Holsteins in the dairy barn daintily toting buckets in their teeth.

Pronto Pups

The Pronto Pup originated in the 1930s in Rockaway Beach, Oregon when a hot dog stand owner got fed up with the rain turning his buns into a soggy mess. In perhaps one of the most American flashes of genius ever, he devised a pancake batter mix that he could deep fry his hot dogs in to keep them perfectly delicious during even the most torrential downpours. Nearly 100 years later, that man’s vision for a weatherproof hot dog lives on with the Pronto Pup, the state fair’s most quintessential food on a stick. Is there a more satisfying feeling than taking the initial bite out of that ambrosial, battered delicacy? Perhaps, but it’s outside the scope of an article about fair foods.

Tom Thumb Donuts

Typically, miniature versions of things aren’t as good as their full-size equivalents. Having a cupcake is never as satisfying as having a cake-cake, sliders are just burgers for elves, and miniature greyhounds pale in comparison to their taller brethren. (I’m not too fond of greyhounds in general — to pointy.) Tom Thumb Donuts are the exception to this rule. By virtue of their smallness, they have a far greater surface area to dough ratio than your typical big lug donut, meaning there’s that much more golden, sugar-coated crust to enjoy. Watching these mini donuts being made is half of the fun: little rings floated around a spiral of hot oil, lovingly flipped midway by an autonomous spatula, and finally ascended via conveyer belt to you, the people. And that smell!

Fresh French Fries

Fresh French Fries has served us what Gourmet Magazine dubbed the “Best French Fries in America” since they were founded in 1973. They only julienne and fry potatoes picked at Hayes Farm in Big Lake just days earlier, because real Minnesotans don’t have no truck with that high falutin Idaho nonsense, no thank you. During the 12 days of the state fair, Fresh French Fries serves about 400,000 pounds of potatoes. That’s nearly the same weight as the Statue of Liberty! Famous French Fries are even better than the Statue of Liberty, though, because you can eat them without first having to take a boat ride.


By David Scheller