The biblical truth that “there is no new thing under the sun” certainly applies to what one might find to eat along the midway and in the newly rechristened SageNet Center during the Tulsa State Fair.
Familiar favorites such as corn dogs, funnel cakes, tacos of all sorts, roasted corn on the cob, meats grilled before your eyes, twisted mounds of fried potatoes, pizza by the slice, cotton candy and enough lemonade to float the U.S.S. Batfish can be readily found and enjoyed at this year’s fair, which runs through Oct. 10 at Expo Square.
Even things that are touted as being new this year are more like subtle variations on the very well-known.
If, for example, you missed out on the “dill pickle” craze that was quite the culinary rage on the midway a couple of years ago, check out Rick’s Pizza stand for a helping of his “pickle pizza,” a hand-tossed crust topped with a homemade dill sauce, fresh mozzarella, thick dill pickle slices and a dill weed seasoning.
For those who require their fair food on a stick, seek out Waffle Chix, where proprietors will happily encase your choice of chicken or sausage in waffle batter, then bake it in a waffle iron. They do the same thing with sweets such as brownies and candy bars.
Unfortunately, the Tulsa World’s gustatory guerrillas’ efforts to sample all the new things at the fair was curtailed by Thursday’s storms, which shut down the midway for some time. But they were able to seek out and sample some truly new things this year, to aid in finding deep-fried sustenance at the Tulsa State Fair.
Three Sisters Hand Pie
If you want to get a taste of one of the area’s newest restaurants, head for the extreme northwest corner of the SageNet Center and sample some of Natv’s offerings. Natv, scheduled to open later this year in Broken Arrow, is a farm-to-table restaurant specializing in contemporary Native American cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, and it has a number of intriguing dishes available, such as bison meat pies, succotash topped with pork belly, corn fritters and grape dumplings. We chose the Three Sisters Hand Pie ($14), a vegetarian creation of sweet corn, black beans and butternut squash in a crust that was as crisp and flavorful as it was free of grease. Even our reluctant consumers of vegetables thought it was a winner.
Cayenne chocolate chip ice cream sandwich
Thelma’s Treats, located on the western half of the midway, sells a variety of handmade ice cream sandwiches priced at $5. One of the choices is cayenne chocolate chip — solid-frozen vanilla ice cream slabbed between two chocolate chip cookies. The cayenne flavor comes from the cookies. You may not immediately taste the cayenne. Wait for it, and, oh, there’s the kick. It’s a pleasant warmth and not so hot that it sabotages enjoyment.
Other flavors: Strawberry sugar cookie, vanilla double chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, s’mores, snickerdoodle, double chocolate chip, chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, gluten-free snickerdoodle and banana peanut butter, which sounds like an adventure for the next trip.
The Gizmo & Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Dog
Freddie’s has been a staple of the Tulsa State Fair for decades, offering everything from hamburgers to roasted corn to cinnamon rolls. This year, some of its fair locations are serving what they tout as “new items” — The Gizmo ($6) and the Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Dog ($4).
The latter is pretty much what it says: a hot dog infused with cheese and pepper on a stick, battered and deep-fried. And, as corn dogs go, it’s pretty good, although the melted cheese releases extra oil, which will require extra napkins. The Gizmo, on the other hand, promises “All the Flavours of Italy,” which is a hefty claim for what is essentially a variation on the sloppy joe: ground beef in tomato sauce with Italian seasonings covered with melted mozzarella cheese in a hoagie roll. Best of all: you can get the sandwich and a 32-oz. lemonade, made from lemons you watch them squeeze, for $9.
Oreo cookies, dunked in funnel cake batter, are tossed into a fryer until well done. Then comes a dusting of powdered sugar. Sound interesting?
Speaking of “sound,” you won’t hear a crunch. Sure, you expect a crunch when eating an Oreo, but the frying process melts the Oreo into molten goodness. Funnel-fried Oreos, available at Carol’s Concessions on the upper level of the fair’s biggest venue, are three for $5, which means you can share with friends and still have stomach space available for additional fair vittles. They’re hot to the touch after coming out of the fryer, so they’re served on a paper plate.
The Box Checker
Fried cheese curds find their way in just about everything sold at Richie’s Cheese Curd Tacos, but if you want to get just about everything this kiosk has to offer in a single bite, then the Box Checker ($12 for an order of two) is the way to go. Grilled chicken, a rasher of bacon, four or five chunks of chewy, tangy cheese in a deep-fried flour tortilla is then topped with lettuce and a generous slather of ranch dressing.
The Men Who Would Be Scene: Episode 28
State fair faves: Recipes for pizza on a stick, deep-fried Oreo's, walking tacos and more
Tulsa’s biggest affair of fall, the Tulsa State Fair, has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fairgoers flock to the fairgrounds each year for a myriad of things — livestock shows, entertainment, vendor booths at Expo Square, and, of course, the Midway for rides and snacks.
The Tulsa State Fair Junior Livestock Shows is happening this year and continues through Sunday, Oct. 4, at the fairgrounds, along with a sampling of fair foods at the food court.
But to replace the abundance of fair foods that are typically available for two weeks, there is one thing you can do — make them at home.
Many folks typically save the occasion to satisfy their corn dog (or cheese-on-a-stick) cravings for the fair’s Midway — myself included. This year, why not fry up a batch at home and eat them out in the backyard? We know it’s not the same, but it’s a piping hot delicious treat nonetheless. Wash them down with a sweet, tart glass of lemonade. For dinner, make walking tacos or pizza on a stick because we all know the best fair food comes in a bag or on a stick.
Save the corn dog batter for dessert. We experimented with an assortment of treats. Oreos and Snickers were the best, in my 11-year-old son’s opinion, when fried. Nutter Butter cookies, not so much. Surprisingly, York Peppermint Patties and Swedish Fish were delicious. The latter, reminiscent of a jelly doughnut.
And that’s what is the most fun about fair food — you’re most apt to try something you’ve never had before!