America: The land of the free and the home of the brave. You might be asking “What fuels the brave in their endeavors?” The answer, dear reader, is deep-fried food. This time-honored tradition is associated with the South, a fake colonel dressed in white, and most notably—fairs. Since 1841, fairs have intrigued the United States and captivated its citizens with their rickety rides, abnormally sized swine, and questionable foods of all shapes and sizes.  Today on, we pay homage to the multifaceted monster that is gross fair food, from fried Twinkies to dodgy meats:

Food: Sautéed Meal Worms

Location: Arizona State Fair

When: October-November


Attribution: By Pengo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

 Want a little protein in your belly before venturing on the tilt-a-whirl? Meal worms are a common dish in some cultures, but Arizonans still view them as a squirming rarity. Put on a brave face and chomp down on the little buggers either on a bun, or as garnish on a caramel apple. Bugs not really your style? Arizona boasts an impressively nasty state fair food list, from creepy crawlers to deep-fried coffee and the Twinkie dog, a delicious masterpiece consisting of a hot dog jammed inside a Twinkie, that is then dipped in batter and you guessed it—deep-fried.

Food: Pork Parfait

Location: Indiana State Fair

When: August

Pork parfait

A layer of pulled pork, a layer of barbecue sauce, followed by a layer of mashed potatoes, repeat. This layered cup of savory sauciness is just what the doctor ordered. Wait, your doctor would never tell you to indulge in fatty meats, rich buttery potatoes, and sugary sweet barbecue sauce…but hey, the fair is only in town once a year! Toast to your health with this unorthodox “sundae.” 

Food: Deep-Fried Butter

Location: Iowa State Fair

When: August 

Attribution: By David Berkowitz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Attribution: By David Berkowitz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

 Known for having some of the worst state fair food in the country, Iowa takes the cake for disgusting deep-fried dishes. Shockingly, deep-fried butter is no longer a novelty, but a regular menu item at many fairs around the United States. They say you can’t knock it ‘til you try it, and this artery-clogging dish has already been embraced by the masses. If you dare to tempt the coronary fates, you’ll be biting into an ooey gooey butter ball so rich, you’ll feel like a bloated millionaire.

Food: Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger

Location: San Diego County Fair

When: June-July

Attribution: By Phil Denton (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Attribution: By Phil Denton (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Not only can you order a Krispy Kreme cheeseburger at the San Diego County Fair, but you can order a triple Krispy Kreme cheeseburger. It’s like when you’re a kid, and your older sibling dares you to do something, so you double-dog dare them to get out of it. But you can’t get out of it, because digesting this tasty, greasy morsel will take you a long time, and it will haunt you for years to come. Created by the evil geniuses at Chicken Charlie’s, the success of this item, along with the stand’s other “FRYBQ” delicacies, was vast enough that the fair folk opened a restaurant in San Diego. Yep, you can satisfy your donut burger craving all year long.

Food: Exotic Meats

Location: South Florida Fair

When: January

Attribution: By Joe Szilagyi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Attribution: By Joe Szilagyi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Caution: Do not attend the South Florida Fair unless you are mentally prepared to push your gastrointestinal limits. Jungle George’s food truck dominates this Floridian fiesta. Not only does it serve standard fair cuisine like deep-fried Oreos, but it serves up piping hot plates of the strangest meats imaginable. Sink your teeth into yak, kangaroo, bear, llama, rattlesnake, or even tasty raccoon flesh. Want to take it to the next level? Fair-goers can also purchase insect innovations like maggot sandwiches, larvae burgers, or chocolate-covered scorpions.

Old timers might remember the fairs of their youth juxtaposed with the taste of cotton candy and kettle corn. But you’re one of the lucky ones who will become nostalgic for the taste of freshly grilled raccoon flesh and the infinite deep-fried fair food list. America, keeping it classy and caloric since 1776.