I like to tell people my fried food training season begins in June with the Taste of Tacoma and ends with the big event in September: the Puyallup Fair.
As part of my conditioning I recently reviewed my old stories of the fattiest fair food I’ve forced down my gullet. For your convenience, I’ve compiled them into a list I’m calling Fair Foods That Will Kill You Slowly, although this year’s list alternately could be titled The Foods Most Likely to Plasticize You For The “Our Body” Exhibit.
1. Big heartache: Earthquake Burger ($9.30 last year)
This half-pound monstrosity comes with a bun that’s about the size of a small Frisbee. This fair staple earns fairgoers bragging rights just for finishing one. I get mine with cheese and grilled onions because to do otherwise would be un-American.
Find it: At the intersection Grand Avenue and Showplace Way
2. Fried meat pies: Fleischkuechle
This turnover truck operates just outside the fair ground and specializes in German-Russian deep-fried meat pies pronounced fleisch-KOOSH-lay. For 17 years, sisters-in-law Pat Jorgensen and Pat Tuthill sold them outside the fair until family friends Virginia “Ginny” Vrieze and her son Ben Vrieze took over the truck last year.
Find it: Just outside the fairgrounds
3. Fair classic: Krusty Pup ($4.12 last year)
A wiener coated in a crunchy cornmeal batter and deep fried. Walking around the fair with a Krusty Pup coated in mustard is a tradition that stretches back as far as I can remember.
Find it: You can’t turn a circle without seeing one.
4. It’s nature’s food on a stick: Roasted corn ($4.25 last year)
Roasted corn on the cob is one of the healthier treats at the fair. Until the guy at the counter dips it into that vat of melted butter and hands it to you, which you then load up with more fat in the form of grated cheese from the toppings bar. It really feels like September when I feel the butter dripping down my arm.
Find it: Throughout the fair.
5. Is that a bun under there? Killer Kielbasa ($8.50 last year)
I’m never sure how I manage to stomach this thing every year, but I always take one for the team. It’s a half-pound kielbasa smothered in sauteed peppers, onions and ’kraut on a hoagie. Be still my soon-not-to-be beating heart, this is a great version of meat on a bun.
Find it: At the Sausage Shack, across from the Americraft Showplex
Four things I will never eat again, even if you paid me: Deep-fried butter, deep-fried Kool-Aid, a chicken sandwich with doughnuts standing in as the bun and the bacon avalanche ice cream sundae.
New eats at the fair
Every year, the food vendors at the Puyallup Fair attempt to set new records for how much fat, cholesterol and sugar they can pump into a single piece of food. Scanning this year’s list of brand-new nibbles designed to clog your arteries, I see this could be the most gluttonous year yet. Perusing the list, I started wondering – what do all those singers and entertainers eat before taking the Grandstage? My menu suggestions should be taken with tongue firmly planted in cheek:
Willie Nelson: The legendary singer is known for his distinctive, wobbly voice. He’s also collected a reputation as one of the most famous marijuana users in the country. So what would Willie eat? A bacon-wrapped sausage, garlic parmesan fries and deep-fried cake.
Find it: Bacon-wrapped sausage at the Sausage Shack, the deep-fried cake at the Totally Fried booth and garlic parmesan fries at the Lady Luck’s booth.
Big Time Rush:They’re a band. They’re a Nickleodeon show. They’re so sweet, they’re cloyingly delicious! So what should they eat before taking the stage? Why, deep-fried bubble gum, of course.
Find it: The Totally Fried Booth
Martina McBride: For the country crooner who has been named top female vocalist by the County Music Association four times, I’d buy her a Cowgirl Candy Cone – sweet potato fries drizzled with marshmallow fluff and caramel.
Find it: The Lady Luck’s booth near the Sky Ride
Heart: What would musicians probably best known for a song called “Barracuda” eat before a performance? I’d pick the apple wallup, if only for the name. Heart packs its own “wallup” – that’s undeniable.
Find it: The apple wallup is baked sweet dough with apples and cinnamon and will be sold at the Novelle booth near the beef barn.
Jackie Evancho: The 12-year-old already has collected a reputation as a songbird of the classics. Evancho is barely out of grade school, so I’d suggest a pb&j. In keeping with fair custom, this one is deep fried.
Find it: The Totally Fried booth
Enrique Iglesias: Julio’s offspring is smoking hot. That’s undeniable, just look in those smoldering eyes and prepare to melt. He’ll need a yard full of lemonade to cool off before he takes the stage. Oh, wait. Maybe it’s me who needs a big drink of something cold?
Find it: The yard of lemonade comes in a 36-inch refillable plastic cup in the International Village.
A few other new ones to try: Deep-fried buffalo chicken, deep-fried lemonade and deep-fried salsa fritters at the Totally Fried booth, which traditionally is the epicenter of fried foods at the fair. Find cinnamon and caramel apple fries at the International Village.
The Puyallup Fair
When: Sept. 7-23 at the Puyallup Fairgrounds
Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $12.50 for adults, $9 for students and seniors. Children younger than 5 are free.
Parking: $10 weekdays, $12 weekends