Stomach-Churning State Fair Food Not on My Menu

COMMENTARY | Can we all just agree that every possible fair food has been fried, grilled, doused in sauces and buttered? At the Colorado State Fair, a vendor offered grilled cheese. That does not sound too interesting or wacky, until you hear what extra came with the cheese.


George Sandefur offered his diners a grilled maggot and cheese sandwich. According to News Channel 13, one taster, eating them straight, compared the insect larvae to sunflower seeds. I think the question hanging out there right now is what would be wrong with sunflower seeds?

Sandefur, the maggot innovator, has offered black bear, alligator, python and yak.

State fairs act as a carnival of food, taking the edible and making it absurd. Oprah Winfrey famously tried deep fried butter at the Texas State Fair she attended with best friend Gayle King back in 2009. Extreme fair food started with things like the tame-sounding deep-fried Twinkies and deep-fried candy bars. Now we have even graduated to deep-fried beer, a creation that also comes to us courtesy of the Texas State Fair.

Creating bizarre foods obviously gets the vendor, and the event, attention. I’m writing about it, and so are others, probably because none of us can get the image of a wiggly grilled cheese out of our heads (though in fairness, it is unlikely the maggots would survive the grilling process. Besides, they are also dried to start).

In past years in Arizona, diners could score a caramel apple covered with sauteed mealworms. Generally, if I found something like mealworms covering my caramel apple, I’d ask for a refund, not pay extra, but they are, according to Travel + Leisure, supposed to be a good, low-fat source of protein.

Even if the end-product strongly resembles a health-code violation.

Maybe I’m not adventurous. Maybe I just cannot turn off that part of my brain that says that if I eat an entire stick of butter covered in batter and deep-fried, my arteries will seize up on the spot in protest. Maybe, despite insects forming a major source of protein in other parts of the world, I cannot get over the fact that in my part of the world, they form a major source of fumigation revenue.

Be it wriggly or greasy, sugar-drenched or drizzled in barbeque sauce, odds are it’s at a state fair somewhere. To those brave tasters, I salute you. Though I won’t be joining you, munch on, weird food triers, munch on.

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