The Iowa Twinkie And 63 Other New State Fair Foods To Try

Iowa Twinkie. Photo courtesy Iowa State Fair

By Amie Rivers

August 8, 2023

Don’t bite into this one expecting it to taste anything like a regular Twinkie. The Iowa Twinkie, one of the Iowa State Fair’s 64 new foods to try in 2023, is a bit hotter than the Hostess snack.

It borrows part of its name and recipe from the Texas Twinkie, so those who have had that trendy dish will be familiar. Instead of stuffing it with brisket like the Texans do, the Iowa Twinkie is stuffed with pulled pork and sweet corn, along with cream cheese and ranch seasoning inside this bacon-wrapped delicacy. It’s also glazed in Whatcha Smokin’s house-made Sweet+Sticky BBQ sauce and topped with fresh green onions. House-made ranch dressing drizzle is the final flourish on this masterpiece.

Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ and Brew will have the Iowa Twinkie for sale for $8 during the fair (Aug. 10-20, 2023).

The Iowa Twinkie from Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ and Brew. (Courtesy Iowa State Fair)

Makes sense that a food that freely flourished so much would make the Top 3 of a whopping 64 new Fair foods to try in 2023.

How are there that many new foods? It helps that many of those 64 new foods are from 20 new food stands dotting the Fairgrounds. (That includes Whatcha Smokin’, which will add another three new foods besides the Iowa Twinkie.)

Get the full food map right here.

If you like bacon, the other two finalists will be right up your alley too. (And if you’re looking for something sweeter, vegetarian, or caffeinated, keep reading!)

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Grinder Ball

Proving that “gluten-free” doesn’t have to mean “healthy,” the Grinder Ball ($6.50, The Bacon Box) is bacon balls, wrapped in bacon, and rotisserie smoked on a stick instead of batter fried (making it gluten-free).

It’s a take on the traditional State Fair Grinder sandwich, though, and so it’s stuffed with mozzarella cheese and dunked in warm marinara to give it an Italian grinder vibe.

The Grinder Ball from The Bacon Box. (Courtesy Iowa State Fair)

But of course, there would have to be at least ONE fried Fair food in the Top 3, and this year that’s the…

Deep-Fried Bacon Brisket Mac-n-Cheese Grilled Cheese

I hope they’ve got an easier name for this one when the line gets long, but at least you pretty much know what you’re getting when you order.

This one is also from a brand-new food vendor, What’s Your Cheez, which has four new foods for fairgoers to try this year. But it’s easy to see why the DFBBMNCGC™ ($12) rose to the top.

The Deep-Fried Bacon Brisket Mac-n-Cheese Grilled Cheese, from What’s Your Cheez. (Courtesy Iowa State Fair)

It’s an American cheese grilled cheese sandwich on bacon-cheddar bread, layered with bacon brisket and macaroni and cheese, then deep fried and served with a raspberry chipotle BBQ sauce.

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The Semi-Finalists

If all that red meat, gooey cheese, and fried batter gets a bit much for you, some lighter (and sweeter!) fair fare made its way onto the Top 10 list, too:

  • Iowa Sweet Corn Sundae: Made to look like an ear of corn, this dish from new vendor Over the Top Ice Cream ($9) is three scoops of ice cream over a green candy “husk” topped with butterscotch and actual sweet corn kernels.
  • Deep-Fried Strawberry Shortcake on a Stick: Pretty explanatory, this dish ($8, Smith’s) is topped with a strawberry glaze and whipped cream.
  • Dill Pickle Flavored Cheese Curd: Battered and fried, and we’re guessing sprinkled with dill ($9, Brad and Harry’s Cheese Curds).
  • Dough Crazy Sweet Stick: Do you like raw cookie dough? Then you will love the Sweet Stick ($12, Dough Crazy), which features a whopping eight different flavors of cookie dough, balled up, skewered on a stick and (if you want) drizzled in chocolate.
  • A-Hootenanny: Whether the “A” was an attempt at getting this one to the top of the new foods list alphabetically, or because this dish—when assembled—kind of looks like the letter “A,” it’s definitely A-dessert-lover’s dream. The A-Hootenanny ($10, Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association) starts with a fresh-baked oatmeal cookie, then tops it with hand-dipped vanilla ice cream, hootenanny jam (all the berries plus peaches and rhubarb), whipped cream and a strawberry.
  • Crunchy Cool Ranch Pickle on a Stick: A spiral-cut big pickle on a stick, but rolled in “cool ranch chips” (don’t sue them, Doritos) this new dish ($6, Grater Tater) also adds extra ranch before being deep-fried. Because you can never have too much ranch.
  • Shrimp Poké Bowl: Lest you think there’s ONLY fried and/or foods-on-a-stick here, new vendor Shrimp Shack will prove you wrong (though among their dishes are also stick-based and fried foods, no worries). This poké bowl ($12) will freshen your batter-soaked tastebuds with a bowl of cooked shrimp, shelled edamame, pineapple, carrots, jalapeños, green onion, “crunch” and spicy aioli on top of rice.

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All 64 New Fair Foods for 2023

Here, then, is the full list of new foods appearing at the 2023 Iowa State Fair, alphabetized by vendor. (*New vendors marked with an asterisk.)

Applishus

  • Caramel Apple Cake Pop

The Bacon Box

  • The Grinder Ball

Bauder’s Ice Cream

  • Bauder’s Cherry Dream Ice Cream

The Best Around

  • Ube Funnel Cake

Big Acai Bowls*

  • The Blue Ribbon
  • Frozen Sorbet
  • The Grandstand
  • The Stars and Stripes
  • The Works

Brad and Harry’s Cheese Curds

  • Dill Pickle Flavored Cheese Curds

Carter’s Cotten Candy and Sno Cones

  • Cotton Candy Art

Coney Corner*

  • Butterbeer Ice Cream

Dog Haus*

  • Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Dog
  • Pretzel Dog

Dough Crazy*

  • Bubble Tea
  • Cookie Dough Sundae
  • Dough Crazy Sweet Stick
  • Soft Serve Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

$5 Diner*

  • Bucket of Soda

Fresh American Lamb

  • Lamb Gyro Salad

Grater Tater

  • Crunchy Cool Ranch Pickle on a Stick

Hagar’s Hoagies*

  • Chicken Salad Hoagie
  • Chopped Italian Chicken Hoagie
  • Chopped Italian Ham Hoagie
  • Chopped Italian Roast Beef Hoagie

Iowa Egg Council

  • Korean Bacon Egg Dog
  • Korean Egg Dog

Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association

  • A-Hootenanny

JR’s SouthPork Ranch

  • Bacon and Sweet Corn Lobster Rolls
  • Made From Scratch Bacon Maple Monkey Bread

McGrath’s Chicken and Steak

  • Buffalo Chicken Bacon Ranch Fries

Mini Doughnuts*

  • Blueberry Mini Donuts

Over the Top Ice Cream*

  • Iowa Sweet Corn Sundae

Peachey’s Baking Co.*

  • Amish Donut
  • Peanut Butter Creme Donuts

Pioneer Wagon

  • Fried Caramel Apple Cow Tail

Saigonais Cuisine

  • Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich)
  • Cafe Muoi (Salted Coffee)

Schuler’s Popcorn and Cotton Candy

  • Cotton Candy Art

Shrimp Shack*

  • Grilled Shrimp on a Stick
  • Popcorn Shrimp
  • Shrimp Ceviche
  • Shrimp Poké
  • Shrimp Tacos

Smith’s

  • Deep-Fried Pretzel
  • Deep-Fried Strawberry Shortcake on a Stick

Smokey’s Grill

  • Byrd Dawg Crispy Chicken Sandwich

The Snack Box*

  • Citrus Boost Energy Drink

Steer N Stein*

  • Pork Belly Pinwheel

Taylor Concessions*

  • Orange Frosty
  • Orange (with Peppermint) Sipper
  • Orange Slush
  • Walking Banana Dessert
  • Walking Smores Dessert

Thelma’s

  • Apple Pie Cookie Ice Cream

The Veggie Table

  • Deep Fried Sweet Corn Nugget

Waffle Chix

  • Oreo Brownie Blast

Walleye on a Stick*

  • Birch Beer Soda
  • Catfish in a Boat
  • Catfish on a Stick
  • Walleye in a Boat
  • Walleye on a Stick

Well’s Wonder Bar

  • Cotton Candy Cheese Cake

Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ*

  • Burrito Bowl
  • Chopped Brisket Sandwich
  • Craft Link on a Stick
  • Iowa Twinkie

What’s Your Cheez*

  • Deep-Fried Bacon Brisket Mac-n-Cheese Grilled Cheese
  • Hot Stuffed Grilled Cheese
  • The Ooey Gooey All American Grilled Cheese
  • Raspberry Chipotle Grilled Cheese

Zag’s Po-Boys

  • Southern Fried Corn on the Cob

Other new vendors, according to the Fair: Gpop’s Candy Shop, Hot Turkey Legs, Miller Ice Cream, and Miller Cotton Candy.

 

by Amie Rivers
08/08/23

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  • Amie Rivers

    Amie Rivers is Starting Line's community editor, labor reporter and newsletter snarker-in-chief. Previously, she was an award-winning journalist at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier; now, she very much enjoys making TikToks and memes. Send all story tips and pet photos to [email protected] and sign up for our newsletter here.

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