From bustling outdoor markets abroad to the deep-fried meccas of U.S. state fairs, a wooden stick can be the vehicle for some of the most interesting (and questionable) foods in the world. Whether ingenious, outrageous, or terrifying, many of these foods — some of which come pretty cheap and could even be made at home — are just begging to be tried.
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A hot dog on a stick isn’t novel, but a frozen treat concocted to look and taste like a wiener definitely ranks as unique. Oscar Mayer’s not-so-cleverly-named Cold Dog features “smokey, umami notes” and is served with a “signature swirl of ‘mustard,'” which we take to mean it tastes anything but sweet. The Cold Dog may be “polarizing,” Oscar Mayer says, but “tens of thousands of fans relished the idea” (groan), so the company made it so, with the help of frozen-dessert maker Popbar, known for its gelato on a stick.
The popsicles cost $2 and are available at Popbar stores in New Orleans, New York City, Long Beach, California, and Alpharetta, Georgia, while supplies last. If you’re tempted to give the Cold Dog a try, let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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At Riverfest in Wichita, Kansas, revelers line up to eat a feared predator deep-fried on a stick. For those interested in trying it at home, a pound of alligator nuggets from Louisiana Crawfish costs about $22.
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If traditional candy apples aren’t exciting enough, try dipping them in melted caramel and covering them with bacon bits — a not-too-healthy but flavorful fan favorite at the Oklahoma State Fair.
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Spaghetti and meatballs can be messy to eat— and it’s not deep-fried. A Bon Appétit recipe corrects all this in a filling and cheap dish that can be made at home.
This is a common “dare on a stick” at the Arizona State Fair. Mealworms actually make candy apples more nutritious— they are, after all, high in protein.
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A staple at state fairs across the country, the deep-fried candy bar mixes doughy and crispy with sweet and gooey on a stick. The batter is simply eggs, water, baking powder, flour, salt, oil for frying, and brown sugar, and virtually any candy bar goes with it.
Like mealworms, scorpions are surprisingly lean and healthy— but folks eat them deep-fried and dipped in chocolate at the Arizona State Fair. You can get a scorpion pre-dipped in chocolate shipped to your home for $5, though you’ll have to skewer it yourself.
This $5 snack combines three important elements of state fair food: bacon, deep-frying, and sticks. Unlike a corn dog, which is fried in cornmeal, the bacon is fried in thick, sweet funnel-cake batter.
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This crisp, creative appetizer from the blog Mantitlement puts antipasto-platter staples such as salami, mozzarella, prosciutto, red peppers, and black olives on a stick, along with favorite greens. The blog 99 Cent Chef has ideas on getting ingredients cheaply.
When calamari just isn’t exotic enough, opt for ikayaki, Japanese grilled squid on a stick — a full squid, tentacles only, or cut into rings. Sometimes called “squid pancakes,” this delicacy usually runs up to 500 yen, or less than $5.
A Wisconsin State Fair treat evokes The King’s favored peanut butter and banana sandwiches — and his notorious weight gain. A Reese’s peanut butter cup on a stick is dipped in banana batter, deep-fried, covered with chocolate sauce, and sprinkled with bacon.
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The ostrich is one of the fastest animals on Earth, but catch one and it cooks up really nice — especially with teriyaki, according to a Twin Cities food blog. A contributor found the massive, flightless bird in bite-size chunks on a skewer, with a side of dipping sauce, at the 2013 Minnesota State Fair.
Following in the footsteps of deep-fried Coke (yes, that’s a thing) comes deep-fried coffee — and not just any old coffee. A booth at the San Diego County Fair served up a treat made from ground Starbucks coffee, Foodbeast reported. Those tempted to try this at home might start with cheaper coffee.
Starfish are not just for drying out and displaying in beach houses. At a night market in Beijing, crunchy, crispy, starfish on a stick cost less than $4 each.
For this dessert from the State Fair of Texas, milk and cookies are slow cooked into a custard, chilled, sliced, dipped in egg wash, covered with breadcrumbs, and, of course, deep-fried on a stick.
What’s for breakfast? Toaster waffles with fruit? Make it portable and kid-friendly by partnering cut-up waffles with chunks of banana, strawberry, or another favorite fruit on a skewer.
Deep-fried butter balls have been a favorite heart attack on a stick at the State Fair of Texas since they won “Most Creative” at the 2009 Big Tex Choice Awards. To make, simply scoop out a globe of butter the size of a golf ball, roll it in sweet dough, and throw it in the fryer.
Who else but Paula Deen could come up with a way to eat stuffing on a stick? Like any stuffing, it can be made with a number of different ingredients, but Deen’s recipe leans on sausage and spice. Even better, it’s deep-fried.
In China, the variety of foods that can be eaten on a stick is quite diverse. Roasting and skewering pig snouts and tails does nothing to distort the unmistakeable Miss Piggy shape of the nose and curl of the tail.
At the Wisconsin State Fair, desserts include a brownie/cake concoction covered in pretzels and chocolate. It is, of course, deep-fried, and comes with caramel dipping sauce.
Fried pig intestines are big in Hong Kong; the Philippines, where the dish is called isaw; and Myanmar, where it can be found alongside pig lungs and pig tongues, also served on sticks — part of the no-waste, head-to-tail philosophy of butchering common in much of the world.
This creation was a finalist in the 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards at the State Fair of Texas. It’s made from a miniature beef patty stuffed with bacon, cheddar, and a beef hot dog, then skewered with a pickle, deep-fried in tempura batter, and served over shoestring fries.
A deep-fried slice of Spam on a stick has been featured at more than one fair over the years. A recipe posted on BigOven takes a different approach, using gelatin, water, popsicle molds, and a blender or food processor to create a “Spam slurry” that freezes into something resembling a Fudgsicle. Then again, maybe this isn’t something you’d want to try at home.
Chicago may not miss celebrity chef Graham Elliot’s Grahamwich eatery, which closed in 2013, but his stand at the Lollapalooza music festival did give the world the lobster dog ($10). Want something slightly healthier? Try a lobster roll.
The master of spiral-cut potatoes on a stick was Los Angeles’ Tornado Potato food truck, but spud lovers everywhere will be better off making their own than waiting for this defunct business to get on the road again.
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