Ranking The New Iowa State Fair Foods We’re Excited To Try

Photos courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

Eating absurd and sometimes bizarre foods is a right of passage for people who attend the annual Iowa State Fair.

Fortunately for us, this year’s vendors seem to have outdone themselves with their gluttonous creations and there are 53 new foods this year!

The first day of the fair is Thursday, Aug. 11, and you can vote for the best new fair food on the Iowa State Fair website or the official Iowa State Fair App until 11:59 pm on Monday, Aug.15. 

I have not tried any of these foods yet, but I can make a fair assessment of which ones I would eat based on the descriptions in the Iowa State Fair brochure

Rather than try to rank all 53, I’m going to power rank the top 10 food finalists.

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10. Minty Moo Parfait made with Girl Scout Thin Mints – Dairy Barn

Minty Moo Parfait made with Girl Scout Thin Mints. Photo courtesy of the Iowa Stae Fair.

I have one problem: mint. Eating a delicious treat to only have it taste like my toothpaste is not worth it. This fact negates my love of vanilla with chocolate syrup and cookie crumbles. 

9. Dawghouse Reuben Sandwich – Dawghouse Concessions Pickledawgs

Dawghouse Reuben Sandwich. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

The picture on the brochure is the most unappealing of the bunch. While the official description lists ingredients such as Dawghouse Concessions’ signature Reuben sauce, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, and cream cheese in addition to the pastrami, pickle spear, and bun, I like my fair foods like I like my Hollywood stars, easy on the eyes. Unfortunately, this sandwich does not fit this criterion.

8. Puff Sundae – Bauder’s Ice Cream

Puff Sundae. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair.

The only reason I ranked this as high as I did is that it’s ice cream. This dish is composed of vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows, hot fudge, and a vanilla wafer, all of which make this new fair food middle of the road. However, on a sweltering summer fair day, ice cream is always worth it—unless it has mint. 

7. Blue Ribbon Cobbler – Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers

Blue Ribbon Cobbler. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

This cobbler looks like a cobbler shown on a home cooking magazine cover. Made-from-scratch biscuits sound great with ice cream, blueberries, and whipped cream, but this food is not unique enough to score a higher spot.

6. Chuckie’s Tenderloin Wrap – Chuckie’s

Chuckie’s Tenderloin Wrap. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

This wrap looks mouthwatering. Sweet and spicy sauce with a pork tenderloin sounds like a winning combination. Unfortunately, coleslaw is my nemesis. I will look past the coleslaw mistake because every other part of this wrap hits the marks.

5. Egg-o-Fuego – The Cluck’n Coop

Egg-O-Fuego. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

This egg sandwich should wake you up! A fried egg loaded with pepper jack cheese, Iowa’s own Beeler’s Chorizo, guacamole, and spicy jalapeno relish, all served between a brioche bun. For anyone looking to have an early morning party in their mouth, this new fair food is the way to go. 

4. Pork Belly Bao Buns – Saigonais Cuisine

Pork Belly Bao Buns. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

Filled with braised pork belly,  cilantro, and daikon—a mild and tangy radish—this new dish is why I come to the fair. It is one of a kind, and unlike the unhealthier foods on the list, it looks healthier and appears more refreshing on a balmy day compared to a pork chop on a stick. 

3. Pork Picnic in a Cup – Iowa Pork Tent

Pork Picnic in a Cup. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

Unlike my legislative bills, I love food with a lot of pork! The Pork Picnic in a Cup supplies it. This food is also buoyed by the fact it is served in a cup instead of a paper plate or dish. The ability to walk and eat is always crucial at the fair as one is always on the move to look at animals, prize-winning vegetables, or get free knick-knacks from vendors in the Varied Industries building.

2. The Finisher – Rib Shack

The Finisher. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

An extra-large russet potato with chopped brisket, smoked pulled pork, and Rib Shack’s famous bacon brisket mac and cheese sounds appetizing. But wait, there’s more! It is also topped with gourmet BBQ sour cream and Rib Shack’s signature garlic rub butter. Whoever eats this will not be eating the rest of the day. Overindulgence is the name of the game for fair foods, and The Finisher takes care of this need.

1. “OMG” Chicken Sandwich – Chicken City

“OMG” Chicken Sandwich. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Fair

After originally going third on the list, I realized the bun was a glazed donut. It soared to the top of the list after this discovery. This is the best recipe for fair food. Take two unrelated yet delectable foods and combine them together to make a unique yet must-try food. In between the glazed donut lies a lightly battered chicken breast covered in fried sugar-coated corn flakes. Sign me up and call the ambulance because I am going to need one. I also forgot it is topped with bacon and drizzled with syrup. Need I say more? This is the clear No. 1.

This is the definitive new fair foods power ranking. If you think I am wrong, go try them because I will be. I want to know if my one sense, sight, is on par with my other sense, taste. Be sure to vote before Aug. 16

Before I see you at the fair, I am going to run a couple of miles and lift a few extra pounds because I am going to need it considering the influx of calories my body is about to take on.


by Sean Dengler

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