The State Fair's Award-Winning Deep-Fried Shrimp Boil Is Not a Good as a Shrimp Boil

Well, they look pretty harmless...
It's become an annual tradition, and I'm not sure how. While other food-freaks try to consume deep-fried everything at the State Fair of Texas, I get to know one dish -- always the winner of the Big Tex Choice Awards -- a little more intimately.

So far my experiences haven't been great. Last year's deep-fried Cuban roll was a greasy mess that paled in comparison to the Cuban sandwiches that could be purchased just around the corner. The year before that I was moderately entertained by a deep-fried jambalaya that was tasty but impossibly small.

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When the Texas State Fair's Fried Food Fails You (It Will), Respect the Corny Dog

It's actually difficult to hold a corn dog and a cup of lemonade with one hand.
It started with a simple desire to steer State Fair goers away from lesser grub. I was ready to take things one step further than Alice Laussade, who opined in her State Fair guide that the Big Tex Choice Awards for most creative were fried bullshit. In fact, I wanted to argue, most of the fried everything at the annual spectacle in Fair Park is overrated.

And it's only going to get worse as all of that bubbling oil starts to deteriorate over the next few weeks. Sure, everything tastes OK opening weekend, but as that fry-bath starts to break down, deep-fried everything begins to taste like spent diesel lubricant. It leaves that odd coating in your mouth that even a Funnel Cake Ale can't cut through, which makes me frightened to think of what it does to the rest of your insides.

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The Cheap Bastard's Guide to the 2014 State Fair of Texas

We sent Alice, our resident State Fair of Texas expert, to sample the eight finalists at this year's Big Tex Choice Awards. Well, actually, that's a lie. We didn't send her. She was going no matter what. In fact, God help the poor soul who stands between Alice and a pile of battered, fried, greasy weirdness, particularly if it's ball-shaped. Not that we're making any judgments. She did, though, and here they are:

Before we begin, let's sum up the basic rules of eating things at the State Fair for those of you too damn lazy to read all these words. They are:

• If it's a ball, eat it.
• If it's on a stick, eat it.
• If it's fried, eat it.
• If it's all of the above, praise the Fried Lord, you've found a fried heaven three-fer, SHUT UP AND EAT IT.
• Anyone who says the following words at any time during the fairgoing gets punched in the tit: calories, Paleo, CrossFit, expensive, cardiologist.

Want more details? Keep reading ...

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Your State Fair of Texas Bingo Card

Click To Embiggen
Dan Zettwoch

Ever wanted to make your State Fair trip a little... competitive? Yeah, we got you. Right here at the top of this post you can find your very own State Fair bingo card, and clicking on the little words below it will pump it up to size. Print several, hand out to friends and family, and let the games begin. Maybe the winner gets to eat something that's not deep-fried? We just can't say. We'll let you decide.

How Fried Jesus Abel Gonzales Jr. Got Snubbed in the State Fair's Fried-Food Contest (Q&A)

Mike Mezul
Abel Gonzeles has been a staple at the Big Tex Choice Awards for years.
If The State Fair of Texas is Fried Christmas, Abel Gonzales Jr. is its Fried Jesus. The first year of the Big Tex Choice Awards, he won with Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. The second year, he won with Fried Coke. Third year: Fried Cookie Dough was his winner. The fifth year he competed, he won with Fried Butter. And the eighth year, he won with Fried Jambalaya. He had, until this summer, been a finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards for nine years in a row.

This year was the 10th year of the Big Tex Choice Awards, and when the list of finalists was announced, there was something very different about it: many of our beloved fried competitors had returned as finalists once again, but Fried Jesus was nowhere to be found.

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These Fried Foods Won the State Fair of Texas' 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards

Catherine Downes
The 10th Big Tex Choice Awards were held inside the Tower Building at the State Fair of Texas this year. Unlike in previous years, there was a huge crowd; usually it's just the finalists, the judges, their families, and media, but the State Fair sold tickets to the public to this year's event. For a measly $100 (a portion of which was donated to the State Fair of Texas Youth Scholarship Fund), you could stand in line to taste every single one of the eight foods in the Big Tex Choice Awards finals. When you do the financial math, it's actually a deal. (Don't do the caloric math.)

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Here Are the Finalists for the State Fair of Texas' Big Choice Awards for Fried-Food Weirdness

Stephen Masker
It's fried... something
Remember when I ate that fried Cuban thing that was more of an egg roll and less of a sandwich? Remember when Hanna Raskin hurked after biting into a ravioli of deep-fried beer? Remember when Alice Laussade pointed out that this whole oil-logged Big Tex Choice Awards were getting a little repetitive, and maybe even a little sad?

You didn't expect anything to change, did you?

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The State Fair's Tex-Mex Contest Is a Spicy, Saucy Cult

Ah yes, Monday mornings. Typically fueled by coffee and rage, maybe a sore ankle from having to take a furious sports walk, they are never a welcome or enjoyable experience. Except for this week, when all the ugliness of a regular Monday morning was replaced by all the beautiful smells and fresh-fried air of the State Fair.

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This is the Only Map You Need for the 2013 State Fair of Texas

Words by Alice Laussade/Pictures by Dan Zettwoch
Click here to see the full-sized version.

Fried Spam Empanadas, Pig Toes on a Stick and Other New Fried Food at the State Fair

Sara Kerens
Fried Club Salad is old news. I dare you to try the Fried Spam Empanada, Stupid.
The Big Tex Choice Awards just gave Best Taste to Isaac Ruosso's Fried Cuban Roll and Most Creative to Justin Martinez's Deep Fried Thanksgiving. But that's not the end of the list of new fried items at the fair this year.

Behold: the list of more new fried dare food that awaits you at the 2013 State Fair of Texas.

Deep Fried Chocolate Chip Burrito
Chocolate chip cookie dough in a flour tortilla, FRY IT.

The Beast Burrito
Freebirds, but THEY FRY THAT SHIT, YO. Fourteen-inch tortilla, burger meat, beans, rice, onions, tomatoes, cheese, jalapeños + fried.

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