No one really knows who first discovered that food just tastes better when it’s on a stick, but it’s become a veritable fact of life. The modern-day corn dog traces its origins to the 1940s, and the Good Humor Bar, the first ice cream treat on a stick, gained popularity in the 1920s. But research strongly suggests that early man used sticks as some of the first eating utensils, conjuring up the image of “caveman cuisine” and skewered meat cooked over a fire. Whatever its origins, food on a stick is more than just a shtick. So in honor of Something on a Stick Day, which occurs annually on March 28, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite treats that just so happen to come stabbed, stuck and skewered. From the wacky to the wonderful, and everything in between, this list will really stick it to you.
If you always thought fruit was a smart choice, think again. Introduced at the Iowa State Fair in 2008, this delightfully sinful slice of the tropics takes a big hunk of pineapple, dips it in cake batter and then irreverently destroys any healthy sensibilities by dragging it through the deep fryer and dousing it with a liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar. While certainly not good for you, it’s probably better than most fried, on-a-stick foods you’ll find at the fair.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs might not seem like the most mind blowing thing that could ever grace a skewer, but the sheer fact that this crazy concoction seems to defy the laws of physics makes it worthy of nabbing a spot on our list. A treat first found at the Minnesota State Fair, this on-a-stick offering is formed from a mix of meatballs and cooked spaghetti that is mashed into balls, and then delicately dunked into garlic batter and given a healthy deep fry. Once it’s cooked to crispy perfection and skewered, this unique eat is topped off with piping hot marinara sauce.
Key Lime Pie
One of the few on-a-stick foods that you won’t find deep fried, Key lime pie is given the stick treatment in this confection that’s perfect for a hot summer day. A frozen slice of tangy and delicious Key lime pie is dipped in melted dark chocolate, resulting in a Popsicle-esque treat that threatens to rival any standard dessert. You can find this chocolatey citrus delight in shops around Key West, as locals say it was originated at the Key West Key Lime Pie Company.
If you’re never had this strange swamp meat before, what better way to try it than deep fried and on a stick? This gamey treat, which some say tastes like pork and has the texture of veal, is cut into strips, deep fried and skewered. Not surprisingly, you can find this at select state fairs across the nation, particularly the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, which offers the delicacy in both plain and teriyaki styles.
No list of on-a-stick treats would be complete without mentioning the Holy Grail of skewered eats: butter. How do you get a condiment as slippery as butter to coexist peacefully with a stick? If you haven’t figured it out by now, the answer is always fry. Debuted at the State Fair of Texas in 2009, this corndog-shaped monstrosity features an entire stick of butter on a stick dipped in a cinnamon honey batter and then, you guessed it, deep fried. As if the caloric count wasn’t high enough at this point, the pièce de résistance is its sickeningly sweet sugary glaze.
We’ve all seen hot dogs on a stick (hint: they’re corn dogs). But what about the hot dog’s red-ringed stepchild, bologna? Equally deserving of being deep fried and on a stick, bologna is elevated from your average deli meat to new culinary heights when it is cut into a half-inch thick slab, dipped in cornbread batter and fried to a crispy, golden brown. Slathered with some classic yellow mustard, this indulgence will soon have you saying “Corn dog, who?”
Another marvel brought to you by the culinary innovators at the Minnesota State Fair, this snack features a regional specialty known as hotdish, a dish common in the upper Midwestern United States that is essentially a baked casserole generally composed of tater tots, ground beef, onions or green beans and cream of something soup (mushroom, celery, chicken, etc.) The on-the-stick version features the above ingredients formed into a hot dog shape, skewered and dipped in cornbread batter and deep fried, generally accompanied by a canned soup dipping sauce.
To counterbalance the notion that all foods that come on a stick are inherently unhealthy, the folks at Giggles’ Campfire Grill at the Minnesota State Fair are offering the Northwoods Salad on a Stick, which is essentially a caprese-style salad chock full of grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and dressing on a stick served on a bed of chilled wild rice.
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