Every year, some things at the Minnesota State Fair get a little better, and some get a little worse. (Um ... what's up with Wal-Mart's local foods booth?) Through it all, we Minnesotans stay the same. We still stand in lines for samples of 5-Hour Energy drink and we still buy our kids plastic AK-47s.
The Hot Dish sampled this year's new foods (leaving out the ones you can easily get other places--frozen yogurt, horchata, pizza rolls--and the ones that weren't actually new, i.e. the Caprese salad on a stick is so two years ago)--to let you know which ones to seek out, and which ones, listed below, to avoid.[jump]
5. Deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough at Sonny's Spiral Suds($4.50) T-26 Inside Food Building A fun idea, but all those deep-fried ooey-gooey things--the Snickers, the Twinkies, and the like--seem like they turn into mushy sugar overload. Or at least that was the case here, when three dough balls are dipped in doughnut batter and fried until they become molten. You're better off with baked cookies (Sweet Martha's, anyone?) or eating the dough in ice cream or straight from the mixing bowl.
4. Dirt dessert at Spaghetti Eddie's ($3) V-25, Cooper/Dan Patch The dirt dessert was a kiddie birthday party fave a few years back, and this one gives it an Italian spin, with layers of crushed Oreo cookie surrounding cannoli filling and a couple of gummy worms on top. But it seemed a little too sweet for anyone older than five.
3. Crab fritters at Ollie's Crab Fritters ($5.75) U-9, Murphy/Underwood It's a generous helping, at six balls to the order, but these crab fritters seem to have substituted quantity for quality. They're fine as a fried fritter goes, though a little too salty and overbrowned, but the biggest problem is the batter's utter lack of crab. If you get one fleck per bite you'll count yourself lucky. The creamy, spicy sauce does help, but there's no way it can salvage such a dire situation. How did this one slip past the fair folks?
2. Yankee apple pie chocolate sandwich at Moe and Joe's ($4.50) N-30, Clough/Judson The griddled brioche, sprinkled with powdered sugar, is terrific. Too bad this sandwich didn't stop there. The apples come with too much gooey filling, and the melted chocolate makes this thing a sugar bomb.
1. Chocolate-covered jalapenos at Andre's Watermelon ($6.50) R-27, Underwood/Carnes Okay, so we get the whole chili-chocolate Aztec thing, which gives hot cocoa, chocolate cakes, and ice creams a spicy kick. But there's a reason that the base ingredients are never served in an inverse ratio: It's totally unappealing. At Andre's, three fiery, juicy jalapenos are dipped in low-grade chocolate and shoved on a stick. Relative to the item's ingredient and labor costs, the chocolate-covered jalapenos are also one of the fair's biggest rip-offs.
Related Coverage Minnesota State Fair's top 5 best new foods Fair Shake app guides users to MN State Fair foods Minnesota State Fair's list of new foods a major letdown 2010's Worst new Minnesota State Fair Foods